Frank Knight, the Chicago School economist wrote: “The chief thing which the common sense individual actually wants is not satisfaction for the wants which he has, but more, and better wants.” To him, opportunity to create value–economic and other value–comes from identifying those tacit “better wants” and creating ways to fulfill them.
A post Easter Monday is a good time to think about “better wants” in our lives and the lives of others. Wants are not “needs,” they are aspirations and dreams. They are not something we give to satisfy, like food and water, but something we fulfill, like education and safety. They come from asking about dreams, not requirements.
Understanding “better want” requires us to get deeply into the meaning of culture and how people live it–their rituals and ceremonies. I’ve been signing a lot of books these past weeks and I had no idea how meaningful it is to people to have an author sign a book they are about to read. In the two or three minutes of engagement they have with you, they tell stories, gives complements, shyly suggest names they want on the page and simply have an intimate moment with you. This is a “better want” and I’m happy I can satisfy it.