Energy for Work
I've been fascinated lately by how we think about productivity; how we think about work. The total amount of energy in a system (a population) that is available for work has ties to our nutritional health, our mental health, and our overall resourcefulness.
Take every human in any system or group and look at the system's total available energy for work, i.e., available energy for producing goods & services. The median age in Africa is 18. Compare that to 35 across North America, 47 in Japan and 45 across our Atlantic Provinces. Here is Bill & Melinda Gates talk about the potential of young people in Africa:
"Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about what happens if large numbers of young people in the poorest countries are denied opportunities to build better lives. People worry about insecurity, instability, and mass migration. We wish they would also recognize young people’s enormous potential to drive growth. They are the activists, innovators, leaders, and workers of the future."
If emerging and developing markets can get healthy, sustainable and deploy new cool tools like mobile payment schemes, the amount of available energy for work will be compounded into incredible progress. Productivity like this tends to come in a whoosh. Look at East China, Bangalore, India, and Lagos, Nigeria; they're booming and they are young.
For those like us that are energy-challenged, we are going to need to free up some of this energy for work and harness it appropriately. We are not getting any younger and we are having fewer children per family and that means the kind of work we do will be inherently different than those with an energy surplus.
Historically, social change and a reinvention of the value chain are led by people younger than not. If we're smart, we will free up available energy for great work.