Cathedral thinking

My brother Shaun and I were at a vineyard in the Adelaide hills a few months back. When the staffer offered us a 100-year-old port, we had to try it.

I pointed out a couple of things: firstly when it was bottled, the world was coincidentally in the grips of another pandemic.

Perhaps more importantly, the person who did the bottling, knew they would not be alive by the time the product was to be sampled. It was a dizzying notion to contemplate.

You know how the saying goes, we overestimate what we can get done in a day, and underestimate what we can get done in a lifetime. If that’s true, how much more in several lifetimes?

That’s what the medieval cathedral builders did, they applied intergenerational thinking to actual, tangible works. Hence the phrase “cathedral thinking”.

The business equivalent, in my opinion, would be something like MONDRAGON Corporation. A business that started with half a dozen guys hiring themselves in a desperately poor region of economically battered Spain in 1956. It was organised around some timeless ideas, and stood firm with them always.

Flash forward seven decades, Mondragon now generates €12B in sales a year and employs 81,000 people.

I feel the world could use more cathedral thinking.

The port tasted unreal by the way.

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