The notion of an enabling economy

While the production roles in an economy are well understood, the enabling roles of the economy are not well understood, and in fact, many of the enabling roles have themselves become production roles instead of remaining enabling roles. The challenge before us is how do we create systems that combine economic value-addition along with enablement of the individual.

The two building block ideas (i) socio-economic deliverables having two kinds of value (economic and enablement value), and (ii) enabling systems which look at creating both economic value-addition combined with enablement of the individual, together point to a new vision of the enabling economy.

Let us understand this idea a little differently. The more industrialized a country gets, the more production and value-addition capacity an economy creates at a scale level, the more we will face a situation of ‘growth without jobs’. Technology innovations such as AI, for example, may relentlessly replace human activity so that productivity improves without corresponding growth in jobs.

Yet we see even in industrialized nations, a huge number of ‘vacancies’ in enabling roles such as childcare, healthcare, personal counseling, etc.

All these enabling roles have high enablement value but often very low economic (and in some cases societal) value, leading to these roles being played by individuals who seek to ‘serve’ or earn a little extra, or individuals less ‘qualified’ for more value-adding activities.

This happens primarily because of a blind spot in the collective mind that places a greater price-tag on economic value than on enablement value.

Similarly, in the Indian context, we find that there are a range of enabling roles – some of them physical enablement, functional enablement, knowledge enablement, (such as nurses, physiotherapists, gym trainers, household help, etc. etc.), all of which provide help in various ways to other human beings.

Put another way, an economy has two types of roles

While the production roles in an economy are well understood, the enabling roles of the economy are not well understood, and in fact, many of the enabling roles have themselves become production roles instead of remaining enabling roles. And the reason for this is because we know and understand economic systems, the importance of economic value-addition, and the relative importance of various roles within these systems, while we do not know much about, nor do we understand how enabling systems are designed, the importance of enablement value to human beings and to human collectives, and the fact that many enabling roles are not played in society.

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