In the long run...

Apr 7, 2008, 10:05 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Last Friday, in his thoughtful blog, Tactical Philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton, wrote about the often-missed opportunity philanthropies have to focus on the long run.  Stannard-Stockton directs the philanthropy practice at Ensemble Capital Management, a position which informs his perspective, as you’ll see in this excerpt from his blog:

It is human nature to want results as quickly as possible. But to achieve success, we must match our investment decisions to our time horizon. If we want to fix a local school because our child will be attending starting next year, then it might make sense to focus on short-term solutions. But most donors fund issues because they want to have a sustained impact on a situation. The techniques that might reduce crime in a bad neighborhood the most over the next month are unlikely to be the techniques that will have the largest, permanent impact on reducing crime rates over the next couple of decades.

Financial market participants are often short-term focused. They often focus on metrics which describe short-term conditions, but do little to illuminate long-term trends. But great investors and great philanthropists must focus on the information that matters to the long-term success of their projects.

On the Pioneer Portfolio, we’re interested in understanding those long-term trends, because they are driven by forces and create conditions that make today’s radical ideas tomorrow’s successes.

Recently, we’ve been watching trends of patient empowerment, IT/communications technology, and data mining/rapid learning.  What trends are you watching and what implications do you think they have—long term—for health and health care?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.