Has the recession taught us the value of long-term thinking?

A common refrain in many organizations is “Always time to do it over, never time to do it right.”  How often have you seen this in your company? When I was consulting, it was one of the most popular problems we dealt with.  I would repeatedly hear employees use these words to describe how things were done in their workplace.  It was no wonder that American quality fell behind that of the Japanese during the eighties. We became a country where we did little or no long term thinking or planning. Our planning horizon was sixteen weeks.  This is the length of time between quarterly reports. Our goal was firmly fixed on the corporate stock price. Could we have a more fickle or less worthwhile target?  We are so busy doing things short term that we find it easier to fix the problems this creates rather than thinking things through and avoiding the problems in the first place. We ignore the old admonition that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
When I look back to the date I started consulting (September 1986), I ask myself, “Have we changed?” As a nation and as a people, are we looking any more long-term? Have we moved away from simplistic measures of success? Are we looking at more forward thinking or are we still primarily reacting to changes?  We have just gone through one of the worst recessions in history and have we learned anything from our experience?  Many would argue that it was short-term thinking that was the major cause of the recession. We spent and spent and bought and bought and borrowed and borrowed like there would be no tomorrows.  A few wiser people tried to warn us about this long-term debt and increased deficit spending, but most of us were too busy “shopping until we dropped” to worry about the future. We were like the grasshopper fiddling while the summer slowly passed by.  Finally, the winter came and you know what happened to the grasshopper. 
We are now in the situation of slowly recovering from this recession.  Many are still unemployed. Many are still homeless or in foreclosure.  Many are still in debt up to their eyeballs.  But we are still asked and perhaps willing to build billion dollar stadiums for the pleasure of watching our favorite sports teams on Saturday and Sunday.  Sports seems to have become the “Opiate of the Masses.”  No times or recession can be too bleak as long as the NFL is still playing on Sunday.  We can wait until November to find a new savior who will pull us once and for all out of this recession and restore us to our rightful place as the most powerful and prosperous nation on the face of the earth and indeed in the history of mankind.  Our new savior needs to do this with little or no effort on our part and certainly not ask us to save more or put off until tomorrow what we want to buy today.  Its not our fault if the country was in recession, it is the fault of the politicians who mismanaged the economy.  How dare they ask us to spend less and save more. Why is it taking Obama so long to fix things?  
Do you think long-term or are you primarily always reacting to short-term crisis?  Do you plan for the future or are you focused simply on what problems and troubles today will bring?  What role does long-term thinking play in your life?  

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