Tag Archives: futurity

Building the Long-Term Orientation

by John L. Ward

In a previous blog I wrote of recent research by Professors Lupkin and Brigham that offered clues to what Long-Term Orientation (LTO) means and how to see it in key prospective hires. Their three ingredients to LTO are:

I have aspirations for others. (Futurity)
I have respect for the lessons of tradition. (Continuity)
I believe sacrifice is rewarded. (Perseverance)

I now go on with my interpretations of their counsel on how to foster the LTO.

They propose three ways to facilitate an organization to think long-term rather than take a decision that only maximizes short-term economic gains.

1.         Emphasize attractive, vivid, compelling, non-economic outcomes for the benefit of other stakeholders. (Framing)

– “Let’s look forward to celebrating our 100th anniversary in
–  “Successful succession is the final test of greatness.”
–  “This decision will really make a difference for our

2.         Develop self-control – avoiding the natural emotional temptations of instant gratification. (Self-Control)

–  Establish accountability systems – boards, councils, frequent reporting.
–  Be public with commitments.

3.         Provide positive reinforcement on the journey to the long-term goal. (Anticipation)

–  “We’re doing something special” (rather than “Somehow this will all work out”).
–  “Let’s celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far!” (rather than highlight the unfortunate negative surprises).
–  “The journey is great for us” (rather than “we’re unresolved on some of the tactics”).

Human nature is to seek instant gratification and to avoid the anxiety of uncertainty. Maintaining the commitment to long-term aspirations, continuing the legacy, and “doing the right thing” requires conscious leadership attention. Otherwise the short-term will win out.


Managing as if the Future Mattered: What to Look for in Non-Family Executives and Board Members

by John L. Ward

It’s generally believed that “the long-term view” is the most valuable and most emphasized competitive advantage of family firms. If so, it seems critical that board members and executives share that perspective – otherwise there could be a troublesome cultural misfit. But how does one see the long-term view trait when evaluating prospects?

A paper by two highly respected academics provides excellent clues (and deeper insight) into what “long-term orientation” really means.[1]

They propose there are three dimensions to “long-term orientation.” Thinking particularly of each of these provides ways to gain more insight on critical hires. Doing so also offers ideas on what to emphasize in employee orientation and training.


“I’m excited about the future. By planning ahead we can achieve some things that are important to me. I have some socio-emotional goals (i.e., benefits for non-economic stakeholders, such as the community, employees, suppliers) that I believe it’s important to realize.”


“I want to steward and pass on our proud legacy and reputation. I believe in pursuing an enduring mission. I have great respect for the past and see the past as a bridge to the future.


“Doing the ‘right thing’ today will make the future plans possible. Though it takes time, thrift, persistence, patience and hard work are redeeming values.”

In short, a definition of long-term orientation is

  • I have aspirations for others;
  • I have respect for the lessons of tradition;
  • I believe sacrifice is rewarded.

If so, it’s natural to embrace the long-term thinking that’s so fundamental to family business identity and success.

[1] Tom Lumpkin of Syracuse University and Keith Brigham of Texas Tech University (2011)