When the vending machine runs out.

We’re all familiar with the sight of an angry person hitting a vending machine into which they have put money, and what they want doesn’t come out—that look of puzzlement and incomprehension.

It crossed my mind as I listened to the news that Westminster has allocated £280m to try and ensure GPs do more face to face consultations. It is the latest in a long line of initiatives defined in terms of money intended to address issues money has little to do with and far more to do with relationships, understanding, empathy, and a clear sense of purpose.

It feels like some bizarre “Skinner Box” behavioural psychology experiment. Get the pigeon to push the button to get a reward. We have now been doing that for so long, encouraged by business schools and consultants, that we seem to have entered a place of unthinking responses, a place of “willful blindness.”

We see the same befuddlement as commentators talk in breathless terms about the prospect of a lack of plushy toys for Christmas and talk of “sustainable” aircraft fuel that still pumps out carbon dioxide but is derived from a different form of exploitation of natural resources.

We have entered a new reality, and the vending machine is empty. Business has a pivotal but not central part in the economy emerging in a post-pandemic, trans climate change world. Our priorities have changed, and our business frameworks and politics will have to change with it.

Consuming less via shorter supply chains, more beauty, less blind bluster. More critical thinking, less knee jerk profit taking. Less efficiency, more effectiveness. More humanity,

That’s a long road and will be fraught with challenges, but we have to begin. Money is a valuable servant but a dreadful master.

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