Heirlooms Foster Long Term Thinking

Caring for an object for the purpose of passing down to a future generation helps people think long term. Being and heirloom means it can’t be consumed or depleted and it instills a sense of duty to grow or preserve for successive generations. This helps to combat a tragedy of the commons. As good example of a shared heirloom that promotes long term environmental conservation is the US National Parks.

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A company can use time horizons as a competitive advantage by being willing to wait longer for returns on investment than competitors. The set of ideas possible with a longer time horizon is inclusive of the set of ideas in shorter time horizon, but also includes more ideas that are not available in the shorter. Assuming some of those ideas are fruitful, there is a fundamental advantage to having a longer time horizon than the competition.

Stone fish traps in use over the last 40,000 years located in the Barwon River that some believe are the earliest human construction in the world. It’s an example of a man made system that has endured for thousands of years and is still in use today—a model for how one might approach building new systems.

Long term work on inter-generational problems (e.g. climate change) requires inter-generational partnership. Fostering these relationships is difficult because thinking long term is undervalued compared to solving short term problems and those in positions of power tend to be from the previous generation (Planck’s principle) which tends to favor themselves (i.e. in-group favoritism).