Mariana Mazzucato’s “Mission economy” is one of those books written by scholars grounded by COVID. I am a Mazzucato fan. Because she shows how governments developed major innovations capitalized on by big tech, and she calls for more entrepreneurial public services. Mission economy takes all this one step further. It starts from the commonly held view that governments as risk-adverse, ineffective and here to fix market failures. It shows how this drains their capabilities and resources while enriching outsourced consultants. It then suggests turning this around by adopting a mission-oriented approach – akin to landing a man on the moon – to public service delivery. The approach of the US Apollo Programme could indeed apply to government-led missions: set a vision, design a mission map (she gives illustrations), catalyze stakeholder engagement, and embrace outcome-based budgeting. Mazzucato argues that this approach requires a new political economy that redefines value creation and governance. This would imply refocusing governments on driving public purpose and shaping markets rather than fixing them. Exciting proposition, honestly. But aren’t pathways to the SDGs more politically-charged and less scientifically-understood than the Apollo project? Probably. But at a time when trust in governments is at its lowest, this book provides a refreshing perspective and energy for public servants want-to-bes.
Like many, I joined Clubhouse a couple weeks ago. I quickly felt, like with other social media, that it was not for me. And I did not think about it much until I read Zeynep Tufekci’s “The Clubhouse App and the rise of oral psychodynamics” showing how social media, from Twitter to Clubhouse, rebalances oral with written culture. Exchanges on social media follow oral modalities of thought that contrast with the written culture predominant in the West where it shapes literacy and power dynamics. I had never looked at social media that way before.
Bloomberg’s “Sustained gains: ESG leaders are outperforming the broader European stock market” shows how European ESG investments have consistently outperformed traditional ones since last March. It is profitable to do good.
My quote this week is from Bill Gates in Sway [21’04”]: ”No I am not a Mars person. I know a lot of Mars people. But, you know, I am not subject to that. […] I don’t think rockets are the solutions but maybe I am missing something there.”