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A New Measure of Man: Measuring Lifetime Output

Page history last edited by Alex Backer, Ph.D. 13 years, 3 months ago

What we measure is key to what we do --it's hard to make progress on a dimension we don't measure. And what we measure and showcase influences what people work for. The telescope was central to changing our understanding of our place in the world. Improvement in navigation measurement devices was central to the discovery of the New World. The microscope was key to advances in microbiology.

America measures its people to a large degree by what it calls their 'net worth', defined by what they own. The very name of it implies that it defines how much they are worth. A man who gives away his fortune loses 'stature' in the eyes of rankings such as Fortune's World's Billionaires. Yet surely a man who gives away his fortune is no less valuable to humankind than one who hoards his. A new measure of man is needed. 


I propose an alternate measure of man (and woman, of course): how much they have produced. Measuring the output of man is harder than measuring his wealth, but not impossible. For example, at QLess, we measure ourselves by how many years of standing in line we have returned to humankind, making our customers free to spend that time as they wish. We keep a running tab at , and are now at more than 23 years. At the US average wage of $23/hour (, that's $4.6M. Of course, we've only just begun. But I think that's a much better measure of worth than how much we pay ourselves.


Would you call it Lifetime Output? Lifetime production? Lifetime impact?


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