The pressure on organisations to deliver immediate results has never been higher. This short-term focus is often driven by stakeholder demands, quarterly financial reporting and the relentless pursuit of quick wins in an ever-shifting global economy.

BJSS wanted to get under the skin of how businesses are shaping their short and long term goals, so we partnered with SPARCK to commission a Censuswide survey of C-suite executives about their approaches and methods for planning. Responses came from over 100 leaders of UK-based organisations across a multitude of sectors, including energy, financial, health and social care, and retail. As evidenced by the survey findings, there is a distinct lack of long-term thinking, with only 17% of organisations stating they have a future strategy (10+ years).

However, a mindset fixed on short-term operations and opportunities can jeopardise an organisation's long-term resilience and competitiveness. The survey findings detailed in the BJSS and SPARCK report, Embracing Tomorrow: Insights for Anticipating and Thriving in an Uncertain Future illuminate the extent of this issue and underscore the need for a strategic shift towards a futures-oriented approach.

Mark Murphy, a Senior Contributor at Forbes defines short-termism as, “prioritizing short-term results to the detriment of long-term interests.” In our blog we explore the adverse consequences of short-termism on sustainable organisational resilience and competitiveness. And we ask the question, is it possible for organisations to effectively balance immediate priorities and long-term objectives simultaneously?

Insights are provided on how embracing a futures-oriented approach can assist organisations in striking a balance between addressing immediate needs and fostering long-term resilience and growth.

The prevelance of short-term thinking

The report highlighted a troubling trend, with a significant majority of organisations primarily focused on short-term results, with only 17% of respondents having a forward-looking strategy that extends beyond the next 10 years. This emphasis on immediate results can be attributed to several factors. The volatility of markets, the rapid pace of technological change, and the pressures exerted by investors and shareholders all contribute to a short-term mindset.

Additionally, performance metrics and incentives often prioritise short-term achievements, reinforcing this behaviour within organisations.

Consequences of short-termism

The consequences of short-termism are far-reaching and can severely undermine an organisation's ability to sustain success over the long haul. Here are some of the adverse effects:

Inhibition of innovation

When organisations focus solely on immediate outcomes, they are less likely to invest in research and development or take the risks necessary for groundbreaking innovations. Over time, this can lead to a stagnation of ideas and a failure to keep pace with competitors embracing a forward-looking approach.

High-pressure working environments

Organisations that prioritise short-term results often create high-pressure environments that can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction among employees. Talented individuals may leave for companies that offer a more balanced and supportive approach, leading to a loss of valuable team members.

Risk of obsolescence

By not investing in long-term strategies, organisations run the risk of becoming obsolete. Companies that do not adapt to changing market conditions, technological advancements and evolving customer preferences will eventually be outpaced by more agile and forward-looking competitors.

Embracing a future-oriented approach

To counteract the detrimental effects of short-termism, organisations must adopt a futures-oriented approach that balances immediate needs with long-term resilience and growth. Here are some strategies to achieve this balance:

Cultivate a long-term vision

Leadership should articulate a clear, compelling long-term vision that aligns with the organisation’s values and goals. This vision should be communicated consistently throughout the organisation to ensure that every member, at every level, understands and is committed to the long-term objectives.

Invest in workforce strategies

Develop balanced performance metrics that align short-term results with long-term goals, including innovation, employee development and customer satisfaction. Invest in continuous employee development, offering learning and growth opportunities to enhance satisfaction and retention. This approach ensures a skilled, adaptable workforce prepared for future challenges, that can contribute to long-term success.

Foster a culture of innovation

Encourage a culture that values innovation and calculated risk-taking. This can be achieved by allocating resources to research and development, supporting creative problem-solving and recognising and rewarding innovative efforts. Creating a safe space for experimentation can lead to breakthroughs that drive long-term growth.

Employ scenario planning

Engage in scenario planning to anticipate and prepare for various future situations. This strategic foresight enables organisations to be proactive rather than reactive, positioning them to navigate uncertainties and seize emerging opportunities.


While the allure of immediate results is strong, the costs of short-term thinking can be detrimental to the long-term success of an organisation. By adopting a futures-oriented approach, organisations can strike a balance between addressing current demands and investing in their future resilience and growth.

However, it is vital to remain level-headed when it comes to fears regarding short-termism, with Harvard Law School professor Lucian A. Bebchuk arguing against the prevailing belief that short-term pressures harm company performance in the long-term. He suggests that concerns over short-termism lack solid evidence and that short-termism can serve a beneficial role, challenging the idea that external pressures inherently lead to negative long-term outcomes.

Prepare your organisation to embrace the uncertainty that the future holds with the BJSS Futures Thinking report.

“By extending focus beyond the immediate, organisations can better anticipate and adapt to the evolving landscape, turning short-term challenges into long-term opportunities.”

Embracing Tomorrow: Insights for Anticipating and Thriving in an Uncertain Future, BJSS and SPARCK

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