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Posted: December 06, 2009

How should we measure success?

Make no mistake: happiness impacts the bottom line

Lisa Jackson

(The second of two parts. Read part one here.)

If it's true that "You get what you measure" what would happen if we developed a "balanced scorecard" of success in our society that tracked and reported statistics related to happiness, right alongside all those "hard" measures?

This is the question being actively explored by world leaders and progressive economists. In a September USA Today article, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has given legs (and maybe even some running shoes) to the concept of "gross national happiness." He recently commissioned a blue-ribbon panel of economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Armatya Sen, to study new ways to measure a society's well-being. He rolled out his plan at the G-20 Summit (Top 20 industrialized nation leaders) in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24, 2009. Proposals of what to measure include the quality of the environment, healthcare, leisure time and labor protections.

For those who can see beyond personal politics with France and its President - you must admit that's interesting leadership from a country who isn't exactly puny on the GDP scale: France ranks No. 5 in 2008, above the U.K.

Please join us in applauding the spirit and wisdom of expanding our definition of success. In addition to GDP, the Consumer Price Index, and Consumer Bundle, we recommend a few additional measures of success:

PIF Index - Pay It Forward Index - the measure of how many deeds of kindness a person performed in a year, that benefit someone else and have no expectation of a return favor.

TTP - Truth-Trust Product - the number of times a person in a position of leadership - in any government or organization - reports uncensored truthful facts with NO spin, multiplied by the growth in trust as reported by the employees and stakeholders within that leader's domain of influence.

P-flation - along with Inflation, a measure of the number of passionate ideas which are offered within a organization - this would be self-reported on a website "measurethepassion.org" and would rely on "honor system" reporting with a multiplier of growth in GDP, divided by the number of hours worked per year per employee. You might even see if you can beat Toyota's number - they implement over 1,095,000 ideas per year - that's 3,000 ideas per day, and 3.1 ideas per employee per year implemented.

Someone figured out how to get employees excited about making a difference every day, and Toyota has the biggest market capitalization of all of the U.S. automakers combined. Toyota makes more of the profit than any other automaker and it has less than 15 percent of the market.

Maybe the concept of measuring success by something other than hard numbers is charming but fanciful and far-fetched - a luxury for people who don't have to live in the business world (which has not done Joe Taxpayer and Jane Investor much good lately).

If the reputation of our best and brightest leaders impact on Wall Street weren't enough evidence, we now know for sure the "soft stuff" actually is upstream to measurable "hard performance" on any balanced sheet (Gallup and many other surveys are proving the link).
Happier people help a business in lots of ways that go way beyond soft:

• Higher productivity - happy people achieve better results
• Higher quality - because happy employees care about quality
• Lower absenteeism - people actually want to go to work
• Less stress and burnout - happy people are less susceptible to stress
• Attract and retain the best people - people want to work for you
• Higher sales - happy people are the best sales people
• Higher customer satisfaction - happy employees are the best basis for good service
• More creativity and innovation - happy people are more creative
• More adaptive - happy people are much more adaptive and open to change
• Better stock performance - for all of the above reasons
• Higher profits - for all of the above reasons

Happy people, unite! Let's go out on a limb and throw our full support behind Sarkozy and Company. This is an idea whose time has come. There is very little to lose and a lot of smiles to be gained by expanding how we define success in our society.

The good news for those of you who have a leadership role in any capacity - whether that be with a corporation, a small business, a church community or a small project team - you don't have to wait for the blue ribbon panel's report to consider how more "aesthetic" measures can tangibly impact your team and your business. 

No time like the present to find out.

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Lisa Jackson is a corporate culture expert on assessing, defining, and improving culture's impact on business performance, especially during mergers and strategy shifts. Look for her new book "Fit to Compete: 9 Truths for Transforming Corporate Culture" this fall or visit her on the web at http://www.jacksonandschmidt.com.

 

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