Examples Of Long Term Orientation

tamagotchiMy previous post on the cultural dimension Long Term Orientation had a lot of comments. Mainly on Social media. Since the concept of this dimension is often quite confusing for Westerns, I’d like to share a couple of examples of Long Term Orientation in this article.

Coming Up With Examples Of Long Term Orientation Is Difficult

Why is this so? In the discussions going on, on different Social Media Platforms, there were a lot of comments about the US being long term oriented (which they are not, compared to Indians, Chinese, Japanese etc; All of the discussion were from the US).

The Anglo Saxon reaction is typical for low scoring countries like the US (in other words being short term oriented): wanting to get to the “absolute answer” of this discussion.

An LTO Illustration

Imagine this… No, better actually Do This: Take a pen in your hand and hold it over a table. Now ask yourself: Will the pen drop if I let it go? Then let the pen go.

What happened? Did the pen drop? Now REALLY do this 10 times in a row. As silly as it may look.

This is a typical example of long term orientation. What’s the “low scoring” answer? “Of course it will“; what’s the “high scoring” answer? “I don’t know, it may or it may not, you haven’t let go of the pen yet…

Three More Practical Examples

One example is fairly short and simple: for how long does a house mortgage run in the Western World? A typical number would be some where between 20 and 30 years.

However in Hong Kong, and China there are plenty of cases where a mortgage runs for 80 years if not longer. This means it carries over a generation!

The second example is about the length of a business plan in years. What’s a good average for a Western company? 5 years? or only 3 years? Usually with a rolling forecast.

A couple of years ago I heard of a large Japanese producer of photocopiers, that had trimmed down the length of their business plan from 150 (!) years to 80 years. Again, this spans several generations.

My third example is probably the most futuristic. Remember the time when the “Tamagotchi” was very popular? Those little key-chain electronic kind of animals! You had to “take care of them” otherwise they would die! I had one… :-)

The Tamagotchi was hardly an animal. But what followed was already more resembling a domestic pet. Nothing like a real animal yet. Why not? because the technology was and is still not ready.

But what is the deeper (business) thought here?robot animal

Think about it. Sony developed (a few years ago) a robotic animal that kids age 8-12 bought (well their parents bought the robot). The parents have no affection what so ever with the robot. The kids get some sort of affection for their robot animal, but very much understand that their robot animal is something completely different than a real animal.

Move forward 30 years.

The kids have grown up and have kids of their own. That new generation will buy their robotic animals that their parents had. But this generation will have much more advanced and more capable robot animals.

The great difference is, that now there are 2 generation who are “used” to robotic animals and are capable of developing some sort of (growing) affection with their animal machine.

Far fetched? I’m not sure. I would not be surprised if this is the actual strategy of Sony for the coming future.

 

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