The Cat And The Canary: Why We Can’t Ignore Long-Term Thinking


When I was a kid, my parents made me watch an old black and white movie called The Cat and the Canary. It was about a group of people who were trapped in a house with a crazy person who tried to kill them. One of my favorite scenes is when one character tells another to stop thinking about tomorrow because it’s too far away. “You’ll never get there,” he says. “Just focus on today.” That might work for some things in life, but not for business—and not when it comes to making decisions that affect employees’ lives over time.

Long-term thinking is not a focus for many businesses

But you know what? That’s not good enough.

For too long, short-term thinking has dominated our economy and society. We focus on the next quarter or year–the quarterly earnings report, shareholder value and so on–and we expect businesses to do the same. This is why we have an economy that produces suboptimal results for everyone but a small group of elites: because most companies don’t think about the long term at all; they are focused solely on their next financial quarter or year.

Long-term thinking leads to better decisions

Long-term thinking leads to better decisions because it is more likely to consider the consequences of actions.

Long-term thinking is a better way to make decisions because it considers the future.

Long-term thinking can benefit business owners and employees

Long-term thinking is not just about the environment, or profits, or making money. It’s about all three of these things–and more.

Long-term thinking can benefit business owners and employees in many ways:

  • Employees will be happier with their jobs because they will feel like they’re making an impact on something bigger than themselves. This means that they’ll be more motivated to do well at work and less likely to leave their jobs in search of something else where they feel like they’re contributing more.
  • The company’s reputation will improve since customers will know that it values its employees’ well-being above all else (or at least ahead of short term profits).
  • Customers are likely to trust the company more when they see how much care goes into every decision made by its leadership team; this increased trust leads directly into increased sales from loyal customers who know what good service looks like from experience!

We need to make long term thinking a priority.

We need to make long term thinking a priority.

Long-term thinking leads to better decisions, and it benefits business owners, employees and society as a whole.


The future is uncertain, but it’s not so hard to see that we need to start thinking long term. The world is changing rapidly, and businesses and individuals who don’t consider the long-term consequences of their actions are going to be left behind. We have all the tools we need–it’s just a matter of using them wisely.