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Listening to the Future: Why It's Everybody's Business Hardcover – December 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470413441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470413449
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,274,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"…have produced a timely book about positoning business to deal with the uncertain challenges of the future." (B-eye-network.com, March 5th, 2009)

From the Inside Flap

Listening to the Future

Why It's Everybody's Business

New business models, new sources of competition, sweeping changes in the workforce—and information at the center of it all. Is your business ready for what's next?

In Listening to the Future: Why It's Everybody's Business, forecasters Daniel W. Rasmus and Rob Salkowitz present the perspectives of Microsoft®, the world's largest software company, on the challenges ahead for businesses, governments, and people around the world. How can we share knowledge and empower people in our organizations to act with insight and confidence in a world inundated with data? How can businesses get out in front of new technology innovations in the consumer world and the enterprise to unlock the potential of a new generation of talent? How can information technology provide strategic value in a dynamic and interconnected world?

Rasmus and Salkowitz look beyond the near-term trends and the latest high-tech fads to expose the critical uncertainties surrounding globalization, workforce evolution, transparency, and the effects of networks and mass collaboration. By exploring divergent scenarios of possible futures rather than a firm set of predictions, they offer business leaders a framework to make their organizations resilient against a range of potential circumstances, while positioning themselves to take maximum advantage of new opportunities.

Part of Microsoft's Executive Leadership series, Listening to the Future: Why It's Everybody's Business examines specific industries, including manufacturing, financial services and insurance, retail, professional services, government and public sector, education, and healthcare, identifying how the key themes of the new world of business will play out in these segments of the economy.

This timely book explores:

  • Strategies for managing a dynamic business

  • Discovering and acting on insights developed from complexity

  • Gaining strategic advantage through IT

  • Maximizing the value of a blended workforce

  • Recognizing how driving forces are shaping the business climate

  • Sharing knowledge to improve business performance

Business-focused and jargon-free, Listening to the Future: Why It's Everybody's Business provides decision-makers with a clear frame-work for making sense of the critical dynamics and uncertainties shaping the next ten to fifteen years, and clearly explains the innovative technologies that may play a role in the new world of business and work.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Venkatesh Rao on January 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Two quotes immediately flashed across my mind as I started reading Listening to the Future by Dan Rasmus, a key soothsayer at Microsoft, and Rob Salkowitz, a free ranger in the Microsoft ecosystem who occasionally wanders further afield. The first is a Kant quote: we see not what is, but who we are. The second is due to Alan Kay, a big name in the hoary past of my employer, Xerox: the easiest way to predict the future is to invent it. Looking out and ahead at the future is as much a synthetic and introspective act as it is a predictive act, even if you don't explicitly set out to introspect or synthesize. Microsoft's visions of the future merit some belief simply because the vast energies of that 600 lb gorilla, channeled by those visions, might be sufficient to bring them about. Goliaths win more often than we suspect, because Goliath beating David doesn't make the news. For you and me, this book is vastly more interesting for what it reveals about the strategic culture at Microsoft than for what it reveals about the future (which is interesting enough in its own right though).

The governing paradigm of the book might be called Scenario Planning 2.0. If strategic cultures were cars, this would be a PT Cruiser. Scenario planning is an approach to imagining the future that relies on specific background narratives; grand What-Ifs against which your foreground ideas can be war-gamed. To get at their big what-ifs, Rasmus and Salkowitz looked at the bewildering variety of variables that people think (or panic or daydream) about -- aging Baby Boomers, green issues, terrorism, peak oil -- and pick out two: globalization and workforce democratization, to serve as the key ones. Each of these two variables is used to create a dichotomy axis that separates out mutually-exclusive futures.
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Format: Hardcover
Listening to The Future offers a great deal of information and potential conditions, as well as scenario planning possibilities that can serve as a backdrop to many of today's business challenges, and more importantly to those challenges on the horizon. As an organizational architect, taking the "people" perspective of corporate life, Chapter 3 on "Prospering in a Blended World" was of specific interest. Understanding the impact of blended workforces; how this will impact middle management (a group that deserves more developmental attention than most organizations provide) is key to be strategically competitive. Chapter 6 "From the New World of Business to the New World of Work" also contains many interesting calls to actions. Recognizing the role of transparency is critical to remaining competitive, but it connects back to valuing what the youngest of generations expect from the workplace. As the world changes, so do people's expectations about what they want from a company from an employee and a customer perspective. Listening to the Future is the only way to be proactive and prescient. Good read, highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a worthwhile read because it covers a number of important issues about strategic planning and frameworks for thinking about future trends. It's interesting to learn about the future scenarios Microsoft has envisioned for itself about "the future of work". They can have an affect on all of us.

The author(s) can be forgiven for some choppy spots, given the breadth of the subject. There were spots when it appeared as though the target reader had changed, lacking clearer transitions. These are minor matters; it contains some useful concepts and concise case studies that should provoke good discussion within an organzation.
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Format: Hardcover
I did not like this book. And since I actually bought it (paid money for it) I'm going to say I hate it. Thus the 1-star rating. I picked this book up at Borders and skimmed through it and thought it would be an interesting read. Unfortunately my skim job was a bit too cursory and when I later sat down at home to read it I was terribly disappointed. The book is a theoretical fluff piece with no practical application that I am aware of.

It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to know that the world over the next ten years is going to be faced with huge problems. A ticking time bomb is getting ready to explode as to the following:

1. Environmental Problems
2. Business & Economic Problems
3. Political & Governmental Problems
4. Social & People Problems, including education, healthcare, and social security

This book does not scratch the surface of the vast majority of these 4 pillars of problems we are going to face. What this book talks about is how change exists in the business and home lives of most people, and they (we) have to do some "scenario planning" in order to anticipate surprises in an Age of Uncertainty & Risk. Some scenarios are touched upon. But touching on the ones included in this book wasn't helpful to me. And most of them were common sense, too.

I will rank this book with another book I recently read and reviewed - "Leaders Make the Future" (ISBN: 9781605090023). I gave it a 3-star rating since I did not pay for it. But if I had bought it, then I would have given it a 1-star, too. These books that try to cover the future typically just don't come across well. They don't cover enough bases or make meaningful helpful points that the reader can use in moving forward in their lives.

I "listen" to the future. Sure I do.
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