Monday, October 24, 2011

The Long Is Short

Apparently I have a 'Present-Future' thinking style. I filled out the short survey on Mind Time Maps and got the chart opposite (with some additional commentary on what it all means). It's a neat way of thinking about the relative importance of the past, present and future in our lives. Though I suspect lifestage (i.e.: getting older) has an influence on one's place on the map. I'll be sure to update it for you in twenty years time...

The time map idea is featured in an excellent report on the idea of The Future Quotient. You've heard of IQ and EQ - now there's FQ. It's a fascinating report, full of interesting ideas, tools and examples. Well worth the read. It also includes a reference to Andrew Haldane's paper that I blogged about previously - whence the title of this post.

The authors are anxious to arrest a perceived decline in thinking about the future. I think any 'decline' is an inevitable consequence of increasing uncertainty. When the near term is so uncertain, what's the point of thinking about the long term? Chris Dillow has a contrarian perspective (as usual): we are moving rapidly from a Fordist era of planning and thinking (writ large in macro economic forecasting) towards a Zaraist era of real time responses to demand (making macro forecasting useless, let alone inaccurate). Alternatively, it could be that we are simply 'over-discounting' the future - we need a better way to price the future.

Perhaps. But there also profound cultural differences. According to Geert Hofstede's analyses of Long Term Orientation (LTO), it is predominantly Asian countries that have the highest capacity. There isn't a measure for Ireland - but I suspect we're not much different to the UK: and their LTO capacity is on a par with Tanzania and Zambia... By the way, another cultural dimension measured by Hofstede is that of the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). Countries with a high UAI have populations that generally seek to avoid novel situations that are unstructured and surprising or different from usual.

And the country with the highest UAI in the world? Greece. Oh dear...

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