My friend Sam Duregger (@duregger) pointed me to an article about the obsessive-ness people have developed with their smartphones.

The article opens with a story about a man who was so engaged with his smartphone he didn’t notice the bathtub water he was filling for his daughter was overflowing onto the floor.  Why is this technology so engaging?  What is going on in peoples’ heads?  The article explains it with this:

It is because they are human, and human beings tend to repeat actions that are pleasurable and rewarding, particularly if they get our endorphins flowing. The complication is that we devalue delayed rewards — the feeling, for instance, of looking back on lovely moments with family — in favor of the immediacy of the new. In this case, it’s data. It makes us high.

Meeting short-term expectations of investors or the board is the smartphone of the business world.  The short term rewards feel good, and people want businesses to produce similar results time and again.  The reality is those short-sighted goals can lead to painful long-term results (and not always for the people setting those objectives, unfortunately).  This description at least gives me some perspective on why any business could possibly be short-sighted…this smartphone mentality simply transfers to their approach to business.

Hey, and for fun, the article even gives an example you can try out on your friends!

Get some friends together and tell them you will give them $100 now or $200 next year. Most of them, he said, will take the $100. Now tell them they can have $100 in 10 years or $200 in 11 years. Most will take the $200 because there is nothing immediate, or more exciting, fogging up their calculation about which is the greater reward.

Lean is for the long haul.  Lean focuses on building long-term value: for customers, for employees, for stake-holders.  You may not see the results in Q1 of implementation.  Endurance is needed.  But if you stick with it, the results will come and will be sustained long after the other guy’s bathtub is spilling onto the floor.

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