Some objectives might be to minimize cost, maximize safety, maximize comfort, maximize
reliability, maximize cargo capacity (for shopping), maximize maneuverability (in city traffic). Students
will undoubtedly come up with others as well.
In this new context, appropriate objectives might be minimize travel time, maximize exercise, minimize
total transportation cost, minimize use of fossil fuels, maximize ease (suitably defined) of visiting friends
and shopping. New alternatives to consider include using a bicycle or public transportation, walking,
rollerblading, skateboarding, motor scooter, renting a car only when necessary. One might even consider
moving in order to live in a more convenient location.
Future options can affect the eventual value of the consequence. For example, a university faculty
member, when accepting a position at a different institution, may not immediately resign his or her position
at the first university. Instead, a leave of absence may be taken. The leave of absence provides the
opportunity to decide in the future whether to stay at the new institution or return to the old one. A faculty
member would most likely think about the two different situations — resigning the current position
immediately versus taking a leave and postponing a permanent decision — in very different ways.
Another good example is purchasing a house. For many people in our mobile society, it is important to
think about the potential for selling the house in the future. Many purchasers might buy an unusual house
that suits them fine. However, if the house is too unusual, would-be purchasers might be afraid that,
decide to sell the house in the near future
, it may be difficult to find a buyer and the sales price might be
lower than it would be for a more conventional house.
Finally, the current choice might eliminate a future valuable option. For example, our policy of
powering cars with fossil fuels reduces our options for using oil for potentially more valuable and less
destructive future activities.
In the first case, the planning horizon may be tied directly to the solution of the specific problem at
hand. If the problem is an isolated one not expected to repeat, this is a reasonable horizon. If more similar
problems are anticipated, the planning horizon might change to look forward in time far enough to
anticipate future such situations. If the firm is considering hiring a permanent employee or training existing