Lucy Marcus: Are We Erasing the Future?

“In board rooms around the world, companies are making tough decisions about where money is spent, and they are having a hard time justifying investing in their future when their present looks so shaky.”

It’s easy to hack off the younger, less-certain branches of a tree that aren’t yet bearing fruit.  In theory, the loss of a few saplings doesn’t cost you anything in the Now that becomes so important when resources are scarce.  It is only later that you realize what you’ve given up on – the future, the growth, the promise of new things.

Some of my favorite books and films are the ones with plots focused on the What If?  What if Marty McFly fails to get his parents to fall in love back in the 1950’s?  What if that butterfly didn’t flap its wings exactly when it did?

Writing at CSRwire, Lucy Marcus ponders exactly this kind of question as it relates to the choking off of innovation and initiative as institutions aim to get their budgets in order.  Are companies and governments too quick to sacrifice their futures in the blood-spattered Civil War triage tent that is our present state of deleveraging?

I’m tracking a deeply disturbing trend: inception is under attack.

Things that fall into categories of blue-skies, notional and long-term thinking and investments, be it in people, planet, businesses, politics or culture are under threat. The choices that lead to these decisions and cuts are named and blamed on many things – mostly tough economic times, impact investing, tactical concerns – but it all boils down to one thing: we are threatening our future because things that are intangible are easiest to cut in a need to demonstrate results and a drive to look impactful. Anything that is notional, hard to measure, early stage is in line to get slashed. This seems true from notional scientific research to libraries and early child education.

You’ll likely read quite a few things today, many of them urgent-seeming and reflective of the current moment.  This is the thing you should read about how this moment may be jeopardizing the projects and products of the future.


Inception Under Threat (CSRwire)

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