Friday, February 27, 2009

The Long Now

A friend of mine from BGI (of course) passed along some info on an organization seeking to change our perception of time through the creation of a 10,000 year clock; The Long Now.

What a cool idea.

I am just as guilty of the short-term imperative as anyone else out there. Heck, throughout my corporate life it's bee all about "just ship it", especially if it's the end of the month (I think that's management-by-objective v. management-by-means, but that's a different post). I have a hard time planning my meals for a week (from a guy that's trying to think and act locally when it comes to food & business) never-mind thinking about laying something fallow next growing season.

Seriously (well, the next post will be more me), we are in the thrall of corporations, let's just be honest about it. It's illustrated vividly in what's happening now with manufacturing & finance globally. OK, OK, it's a systems issue...absolutely, we buy the stuff they sell, whether it's non-existent "assets" or cars (note the date on the "cars" article), or soft drinks, Pop-tarts, or beer (my local favorite, Harpoon IPA)...where was I going with this? Oh Yeah!

If we are in thrall of corporations, and their time frame in quarterly, how might we start thinking in 1000 year increments?


Unknown said...

Most sustainability issues that I am aware of, whether for corporations or society, only need a window of 50 years. This window forces corporations to change their behaviors. In 50 years, the entire workforce demographics will change and companies need to be prepared for it. As it is, companies are dealing with four generations of workers - each with their own set of motivations. If companies do not change to address these, they will not be the "employers of choice" and so they will not be able to choose the best employees.

In only 25 years, companies need to realize that energy costs will be so exorbitant that they will not be sustainable. If they do not do all they can now, they will be out of business because of their energy costs.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment, and helping me reframe my thinking about "long-term" in a way most people might find approachable, especially in corporate management. I assume the C-level execs are the ones that are (or should) be managing 25-50 years out.

Brian C. Setzler, CPA said...

A few random and related comments.

First, sustainability needs to be measured over centuries, at a minimum, which means it is inaccurate to say anything we are doing is sustainable.

Time is a very weird thing. Before the invention of the mechanical clock, time was always measure by natural cycles (day, season, etc.).

The mechanical clock was just a machine that went around and around which we began to equate to time until it took over our lives and our thoughts.

At TriLibrium, we are trying to move entirely away from time billing and instead are trying to implement value billing.

This helps us focus on value and our values rather than time. Time makes everyone feel like they are on a treadmill.

Anonymous said...


Another good point. If I am not mistaken, clocks really became more powerful as we industrialized society, maybe with the rise of Taylorism in manufacturing to control labor and therefore output & profit. There is one thing that still somewhat follows the natural cycle, the school year.

- Wayno