In January, having spent 15 years at The Future Laboratory – one of the world’s most renowned futures consultancies, Tom Savigar set up Avansere; a company which focuses on shifting mindsets within brands and corporations towards fulfilling more human and planetary needs. He believes that by empowering businesses to put people and the environment first, they can achieve more regenerative, rewarding enterprise. Quintet understands that living a rich and fulfilling life is about more than simply having money and possessions. In November 2020, Quintet hosted an online discussion - ‘For a Richer Planet: Carbon reduction and the role humans must play’; to better understand how all our lives can be enrichened when we put people and the planet first; something which Tom deep-dived in to as a guest speaker on the panel.
In the last few years, I am sure like me, you have noticed that ‘health and wellness’ has been front of mind when it comes to choosing a direction for a business. Better. Betterment. Wellness. Well-being. Athleisure. Future-fitness. Transformation. Whole-health. Me. We. World. Many smart businesses know that without a committed effort to advance the health of internal and external audiences there will be no return on investment.
From corporate purposes that promote systemic physical and mental betterment among employees and consumers; to business models that create value in ways that do not degenerate the condition of society and the environment; to profitability calculations that take into account the full range negative and positive impacts on human health; to economic growth at no cost to human health. Many of us have designed visions and strategies to do this. But even the most intrepid leaders have struggled to put a tangible value on the positive impacts associated with elevating human health.
Is the pandemic the push corporations need to move forward and succeed by exceeding human health needs? Will a more refined and courteous human emerge from the crisis, one that is more creative, connected, convivial and clear-headed?
The pandemic push
Some say Covid-19 is the catalyst outliers, misfits, visionaries and entrepreneurs have been waiting for. With corporations doing their bit more and more, capitalism will now have to factor the organisation of human health worldwide into its DNA during and post-pandemic. Indeed, the health-driven measures will continue for some time with contactless everything, the rise of hygiene theatre by companies, higher protectionism in public places and unprecedented public-private synergies to prepare for the next pandemic.
'Bezos told investors that the $4 billion in profits they were expecting would be reinvested. The investment had a theme: Covid-19. Specifically, Bezos outlined a vision for at-home Covid tests, plasma donors, PPE equipment, distancing, additional compensation, and protocols to adapt to a new world. Jeff Bezos is developing the earth’s first “vaccinated” supply chain', recently commended Scott Galaway, Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Interestingly, The World Health Organisation's definition of health is 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'. They assert that physical and mental well-being is a human right, enabling a life without limitation or restriction. Indeed, the meaning of this universal definition has transformed in the context of Covid-19. 'Enabling a life without limitation or restriction' will come to life in new, tech-driven ways over the coming year; and there will be renewed focus on a wider range of indicators that describe people's state of 'complete physical, mental and social well-being’.
The reason why this is so important is because a healthier consumer equals greater brand loyalty and spend. A healthier workforce equals higher productivity and profit. A healthier electorate equals more votes and loyalty. Indeed, governments, institutions and corporations need to foresee those elements of the human condition that require elevating; and isolate non-negotiable, sustainable and scalable opportunities to regenerate the things that really make a difference to human health.
The return? A healthier consumer equals greater brand loyalty and spend. A healthier workforce equals higher productivity and profit. A healthier electorate equals more votes and loyalty.
The purpose of purpose
In this human health-driven terrain, especially amid other climate, biodiversity, economic, societal and political crises, the definition of company purpose will shift from meaning ‘using resources and engaging in activities to increase profits’ to ‘accelerating a global cultural shift to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy’. But a well phrased purpose means nothing unless it is culturally relevant. Where is best to play?
By aggregating data from national statistic bureaus, World Bank, the Social Progress Index and the OECD Better Life Index, Avansere assesses whether the five basic elements of the human condition below are being satisfied, and which ones need elevating through regenerative actions.
- Body: The desire to have better physical health and life expectancy
- Well-being: The desire to have better safety and security, shelter and prosperity
- Belonging: The desire to have a better connection to family, friends, community and civic engagement
- Mind: The desire to enjoy better mental health, learning, expression and esteem
- Spirit: The desire to enjoy better life satisfaction and a connection to the natural environment
The following thoughts look at this broader definition of human health in developed and developing OECD markets, but critically sit alongside the immediate challenge of tackling the current pandemic. This means remedying Covid-19 casualties now and regenerating a broader definition of human health in the coming months and years.
Developed markets: 'to belong is to be better’
‘We must spend our energy, money and time wisely in the coming months and years to solve this new human health dilemma and decide what the right moves are to survive and thrive’
Before Covid-19 took over the lives of many people in developed OECD markets, Avansere assessed that 'belonging' was the lowest scoring element of the human condition. People in developed OECD markets were searching for solutions to enjoy a better connection to family, friends, community and civic engagement.
Systemically, civic engagement was the drag factor pulling people back from a deep sense of fulfilment. In today's isolationist climate, this element has become even more important to remedy for people.
Trust in governments and corporations and social cohesion was very low, and now more than ever it is essential for well-being. Indeed, people now demand even more transparency from governments and businesses that have gone deeper into their lives because of the pandemic. Indeed, 'belonging' is one key intervention point in developed markets that companies should double down on if they want to thrive over the coming years.
Developing markets: 'to be mentally and physically secure is to be better’
Prior to Covid-19, now spreading into the lives of people in developing OECD markets, 'mind' and 'well-being' were both low scoring elements of their human condition. People in developing OECD markets were searching for solutions to enjoy a better life satisfaction; better mental health, learning, expression and esteem; and better safety and security, shelter and prosperity. Surrounded by the super wicked problem that is the pandemic, 'mind' and 'well-being' need to be quickly elevated to protect basic human rights.
We now know that stay-at-home lockdowns work to control the spread of the virus. We also know that lockdowns kill the economy. The consequences are not just financial; there is also a direct human toll. Systemically speaking, education and income are the drag factors pulling people in developing markets back from a deep sense of well-being.
In a fast-changing, Fourth Industrial Revolution worldwide, low levels of higher-education means many of these people will not acquire the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in modern economies; and mean many of these people will be affected by one devastating effect of Covid-19 — unemployment.
So 'mind' and 'well-being' are the intervention points in developing markets that you should now focus as you move forward through the crisis. How might you elevate people in developing markets’ ability to better protect themselves from economic vulnerability, achieve higher living standards and greater well-being?
This year, it has often been said that we must use the positive side effects of the pandemic to learn and adapt before we go back to old degenerative habits. We must spend our energy, money and time wisely in the coming months and years to solve this new human health dilemma and decide what the right moves are to survive and thrive by regenerating 'belonging' in developed markets; and regenerating 'mind' and 'well-being' in developing markets.
Which direction are you going to take? Because again the return is a healthier consumer, which equals greater brand loyalty and spend; a healthier workforce, which equals higher productivity and profit; and a healthier electorate, which equals more votes and loyalty. www.avansere.no
Tom Savigar took part in Quintet’s webinar ‘For a Richer Planet: Carbon reduction and the role humans must play’. If you missed the discussion, click here to watch a recording of the full event.