Keeping Your Eye on the Spires

We attend conferences for a number of reasons; learning more about the subject, expanding our horizons or perhaps just for a day out of the office!

My day at the PATA Global Insights Conference in Auckland on 16 October 2015 was largely about expanding my horizons.   This was particularly so during the address given by Rick Antonson, former CEO of Tourism Vancouver.

The theme of his address was “Cathedral Thinking”.    Rick Antonson challenged us to start a project that you will likely never see come to fruition in your lifetime.  What can we do to benefit future generations in our industry- the tourism industry?

“Cathedral Thinking” isn’t a new concept.  It looked back in history to the Middle Ages when the instigators of some of the most magnificent Cathedrals, which were very complex endeavours, died before their work was completed.     St Martin’s Cathedral in Ypres, Belgium, was started in 1230 but it took a hundred and forty years to complete, and this is only one example.

St Martin's Cathedral in Ypres, Belgium.  It took 140 years to build (1230 - 1370).  The building was damaged during WW I and was rebuilt after the war (1922-30).

St Martin's Cathedral in Ypres, Belgium.  It took 140 years to build (1230 - 1370).  The building was damaged during WW I and was rebuilt after the war (1922-30).

Unfortunately, in our current society we incentivise short-term thinking.  In politics actions are geared to suit the electoral cycle.  In business we do six monthly projections, annual plans, three-year strategic plans or occasionally 10 years plans but we’re unlikely to do anything beyond.  Why should we?   We won’t be around – right!

Had the architects and builders of magnificent edifices built during the Middle Ages thought that, we wouldn’t have those truly amazing buildings today, let alone their rich history and legacy.    

So, in our business do we take time to think about the future and contemplate what initiative we can start that will outlive us?