The Economics of Change

by Adam on April 19, 2013

For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about economics and the use of resources to exact change in our lives and our world. When I drilled all the way down, I came to realize that there is a bottom-line to which all resources can be simplified, which basically comes down to:

  • Time
  • Money
  • People

I realize this may be an oversimplification, but I do think from these three elements, one can derive a host of complexities on which our society is built. Many (or, uh, the few) who are reading this will surely say something about land, and water and food and how all of those are resources, and indeed resources we are running out of. But, again, if I can oversimplify and leave out the debate around where our food will come from and how we’ll share resources in the future, I would boil it down as follows:

“If you wanted to grow food on a piece of land, you’d need money (to buy the land), people (to plant the seed) and time (to watch it grow).”

Most of the change we wish to effect in the world can be done with all three of these pieces. In fact, I’d say all sorts of social and humanistic change can actually be made into reality with at least two (but no less than two) of these factors. I have to be relatively broad-minded in this post, because I can’t actually point to a specific type of change that I want to single out.

But, let’s take any number of societal changes as an example.

In one instance, you could deploy capital and put together marketing campaigns, lobby government entities, found organizations to work on your behalf, etc, while also employing people (another resource) to be advocates for whatever that change was.

Or, if you had no money, but you had enough time, and enough people behind you, it would be possible to convert hearts and minds around a cause that they stood behind (it’s somewhat like the Arab Spring in that people banded together behind change they wanted to effect).

In weighing the above, I actually think people are probably the most valuable resource when it comes to any sort of campaign around change-agents and metrics…primarily because people are so hard to reach, but once they are advocates or influencers for whatever it is you are trying to do, they tend to be very loyal if they believe in it (and also can amplify your own network). And that can often-times be more powerful than money (although time is always a helpful resource to have on your side, as the saying goes).


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