Field Reports Indicators of social good

On Tuesday, Obama spoke about the budget. He outlined its central role in redefining areas critical for the US’s future competitiveness: Education; Healthcare; and Energy. While these issue all have tangible, measurable daily meaning to us, the term “budget” is rather abstract. A budget is no more than the overall organization of expenditure, or is it?

Today I met with David of the Institute for Responsible Investment and we had a very interesting discussion. I find it fascinating to delve into the intersection between financial issues and social values. In addition to the traditional argument of competitiveness, Obama’s speech had strong threads regarding the need to “do good”. But what is – in a broader sense- the connection between expenditure and social good? How can we see that these resources are organized, injected, and accounted for in ways that help promote broader social values? How does a corporation that wants to “do good” in terms of sustainability see and measure its ROI in these terms? These are multidimensional, complex issues that will require synthesis.

In all of this the question of how, and what, you measure will be critical. What will our “next generation” indicators look like? I think design has a role in shaping many of these questions.