How Long is Long Enough?

Business tends to take the human desire for certainty to an extreme.

(Recall Paul Krugman’s writing about business leaders waiting for the Confidence Fairy to arrive before they’d start investing again in the depths of the financial crisis.)

Almost any crisis can be path-determining to some extent, but true leaps generally require that enough people be persuaded enough that conditions are different enough to invest and act as if things really are going to be different over the long term.

Right now, it seems we still hang in the balance: if allowed out tomorrow, we’d likely snap back to “normal” as we remember it as quickly as we could.

If that’s not a good idea — as the climate and the culture suggest it wouldn’t be — how can we credibly set long-term expectations in a better direction such that we keep moving that way even after we’re once again free to move about?