Are we in a Thinking Ahead Crisis?

by Trudy on August 5, 2011

I often ponder what is going to come of us as a society. I am a little bit more anxious about it these days when I see all kinds of evidence of people, companies and governments so pre-occupied with the here and now, that they are not taking the time to really look ahead and then purposefully move to create a thoughtful productive, valuable future.

I see it with clients that no longer do annual budgets, rather quarterly budgeting, and sometimes monthly (JIT budgeting or lack of foresight and confidence?). I see it in month-to-month real estate sale comparisons (alarm the bell, we sold 25 less houses this month!). How about the daily ride of the TSX (Daily? Really?!). Everywhere I turn I see an overwhelming abundance of shortsighted thinking.

But the real kicker for me came at a recent visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre. For the first time in US space exploration history, there is NO plan for space travel. The Atlantis landing was the conclusion of the space shuttle program, and there is no other program/aircraft to follow it. Wow.

I can appreciate that it is an expensive time for the US right now – wars to pay for, economic recovery to pay for and health care reform to fund. Times are tough. And space exploration might seem like an easy thing to cut, after all, most people could not really cite why the space program is important to them personally, so the flack for the lack of funding will be much quieter to deal with.

But I say, look over your shoulder…here comes China. They are investing, planning, strategizing and spending, when North America is caught in the here and now.

It seems that most sectors and companies in North America are living in the land of popular votes of citizens and shareholders, requiring short-term thinking, decisions and actions.

I look at it all and really wonder what is going to become of us? With so few leaders having the nerve to buck the JIT habit, how will companies/the county ever be ahead of the pack, innovating and creating real value?

I’d like to discuss if we are in a thinking ahead crisis, but I fear that people are so caught up in the here and now that it will need to be put off until another day.

Heads up, watch out for that cliff!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sheila August 7, 2011 at 1:48 am

Great blog, Trudy. I really enjoyed reading this.

I believe that many “great” leaders lack the leadership competency of Strategic Orientation. You can see why it is easy to lose when leaders are being asked by their teams for quicl “band aid” solutions constantly and senior managers are asking for immediate cost savings.

Interestingly, most companies have even lost the ability to “spend today to save tomorrow”. It’s very sad.

It will be interesting to see some of these companies in 10 years…wait…that’s 1 + 9 years from now…. Not sure many people can really think that far ahead!

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