As a basis of our discussion at the NAC we used the National Values Assessments (NVA) of 24 nations. The NVA measure what people value and desire in society and the dysfunction or unproductive side of a nation. Of the 24 nations only one made it under the healthy level of 10% productivity loss - Bhutan with 4%. It is followed by United Arab Emirates with 12%. Surprised?
It was a surprise for us to see these two countries as the most productive or least dysfunctional societies. The closest Western nation is Denmark with 21%. And Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world. Of the 24 nations only 5 have a dysfunction of less than 40%. Australia sits at 42%.
Bhutan’s results mean that their leaders align their decisions (and policy) with what people need and want from society. Interestingly, Bhutan does not pursue Landes material progress. Instead people desire contentment. From 40% dysfunction a nation needs serious structure and leadership changes. Without these changes productivity cannot increase. Yet, it is the structure itself which currently keeps the impasse and stops Australia’s progress to a more productive society.
When considering Landes standard for governments there are (sad) revelations. Nationally, Australian’s desire a culture that has concern for future generations, cares for the elderly and the disadvantaged, and has the fundamentals of employment, health care and housing covered. Instead the survey tells us that people experience a waste of resources, materialistic views, corruption, short-term focus, blame and crime. This breaks about every productivity standard described.
The most pleasing outcome is the evident similarity of what people value regardless of their cultural background. From the top 10 personal values, six nations share eight values and 15 share six. What differs are the beliefs and the meaning we attach to these values. From a relationship perspective it is these beliefs that lead to misunderstanding. With some good dialogue and an open mind towards others these differences could dissipate. Not impossible as Australian personal values are relationship based with a focus on family and friendship, care, respect and trust: a solid foundation for a positive culture in Australia.
And more good news is that community values assessments in the UK have shown that people perceive a difference in the way they view their national culture and the way they see their community culture. The latter is seen far more positive supporting that relationships happen at the community level. This should also mean that community productivity is better if we focus locally on inclusive relationships and human well-being before economic well-being.
Some food for thought for our local community leaders.