Inception Under Threat

Adding perspective to this fevered trend of cuts. 

By Lucy P. Marcus

I’m tracking a deeply disturbing trend: inception is under attack.

Things that fall into categories of blue-skies, notional and long-term thinking and investments, be it in people, planet, businesses, politics or culture are under threat. The choices that lead to these decisions and cuts are named and blamed on many things – mostly tough economic times, impact investing, tactical concerns – but it all boils down to one thing: we are threatening our future because things that are intangible are easiest to cut in a need to demonstrate results and a drive to look impactful. Anything that is notional, hard to measure, early stage is in line to get slashed. This seems true from notional scientific research to libraries and early child education.

It is not just happening in government. In board rooms around the world, companies are making tough decisions about where money is spent, and they are having a hard time justifying investing in their future when their present looks so shaky. These choices in turn touch not only the companies themselves but their impact also ripples out to stakeholders, sectors, communities. The choices they make as to whether they invest in sustainable ways of operating, innovative solutions or their communities reach far into the future and help decide if we are all standing still or are even moving backwards.

No society, community, company or entity can survive on impact-based, easily defined and measured things alone. It takes strong principled leaders with integrity and vision, skill and determination, in the public and private sectors, to stand up and fight for the worth of investing in the future: without that there won’t be a terribly interesting future to look forward to and only regret to look back with.

One of the most recognised phrases around the world begins with: “In the beginning…” but if we don’t invest in beginnings, how can we hope to see happy endings?

About Lucy P. Marcus 

The founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting, Lucy P. Marcus currently serves as the non-executive chair of the Mobius Life Sciences Fund and as a non-executive director and chair of the board audit committee of BioCity Nottingham. She is a fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and a member of the board of IE Business School. She is a prolific writer on global economic trends and best practices for corporate governance, venture capital, entrepreneurship, biotech, cleantech and women in business, and regularly speaks on these topics to diverse audiences around the globe.

Follow Lucy P. Marcus on Twitter: @lucymarcus

Talkback Readers: What strategies can you share to help promote investment in long-term, blue-skies “beginnings?” Tell us on Talkback!

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