Long-term strategy depends on reweighting the balance of cost and value

“We have all but lost the capacity to think strategically . . . we have simply fallen out of the habit, and have lost the culture of strategy making.”

So says, according to Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph,  a report of our Parliament’s Public Administration Select Committee –  not yet up on their website, please let me know when it is – and it’s hard to disagree.

For me the answer is quite stark – government has placed far too much emphasis on cost rather than value. Only if this is rebalanced with long-term incentives, will we ever develop large, long lifespan strategic assets. And as Johnston rightly points out, nowhere is this more true than post the Comprehensive Spending Review,  in energy or defence.

What is the value of aircraft carriers’ conventional deterrence, low and high intensity warfare air support and disaster relief capabilities over 40 years that these mobile airbases can bring to anywhere in the world?

Equally, what is the value of a Severn Tidal Barrage’s 100% predictable power output with zero fuel costs throughout its 120 year lifetime?

In both cases, their long-term value relative to their initial cost, is inordinately high. Would that we as a nation could recognise that and countless other examples too.