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Profiting from Uncertainty: Strategies for Succeeding No Matter What the Future Brings Hardcover – July 11, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like fossilized skeletons of species past, the carcasses of companies that failed to heed the shifting winds of change litter the landscape of the business world. Strategic planner Schoemaker presents various examples of blindered business outlooks in this guide to making the best of a rapidly changing world. As he freely admits, change is not manageable in the least and is often quite scary. "Uncertainty cannot be pinned down or coaxed into cages. It is only partly tamable, and we must learn to live with the beast." These are brave and true words, and it's to Schoemaker's credit that he states them up front. (Too many business gurus insist that everything can be planned for given a generous layout of consulting fees, of course and easily managed.) Schoemaker's point is that too many companies try to figure out the future by looking at the past (Cisco's sad story is a particularly telling example of this tendency). Of course, the book's litany of mistakes and don't-repeat-this case studies start to seem like just another way of looking backwards into the future. There is some valuable information here, though, as Schoemaker breaks down the scenario-building process and shows readers how to gaze into the crystal ball and plan for not just one, but multiple possible futures. He also addresses the importance of things like simply getting a company's higher-ups to listen to you. Although not groundbreaking, this is a worthy and useful reminder of the danger of resting on one's laurels.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"Paul Schoemaker belongs to an extremely exclusive club -- the one for business authors who are both leading-edge practitioners and academic researchers. This extraordinary book offers eminently practical, yet theoretically pure, advice for managers in these uncertain times." (Hugh Courtney, Ph.D. McKinsey consultant and author of 20/20 Foresight)

"The title says it all...Schoemaker guides us through the uncertainties and anxieties that confound business post-dotcom/post-September 11/post-Enron/post-economic downturn. He shows how businesspeople can create scenarios that will make them prepared and how the prepared can exploit the opportunities inherent in an uncertain world." (Professor Marvin Zonis, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago)

"This is the strategic equivalent of a good liberal arts education. It teaches you a broad-based approach that will keep you from being surprised by change." (Alberto Ibargüen Publisher, The Miami Herald)

"Paul Schoemaker describes a strategic process that will better prepare organizations for the future. This book is an invaluable guide for managers in both the public and private sectors." (Henry Hatch, 47th Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Commanding General)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (July 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743223284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743223287
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a consultant, I have been working with companies in all kinds of industries on strategy issues for 25 years. During that time, I have been a prolific reader of books on the strategy process, as well as of books on strategies being used by leading companies. I am not sure how I missed this book when it was published seven years ago, but I am grateful that I finally learned about it as a result of a chance encounter with author Paul Schoemaker.

As I write this review, companies in all manner of industries face as much uncertainty as likely has ever existed in modern business times. Many a CEO has told me that they are struggling not only with problems of their company but also with unbelievable uncertainty as to both the overall economy and as to their industry. Ripple effects from other industries are causing all kinds of problems. Uncertainty reigns supreme.

Schoemaker writes about an approach to strategy development and planning that embraces the uncertainty, and he goes even further to encourage management to profit from uncertainty. I love the way his holistic approach weaves together strategy development best practices, decision theory, organizational behavior, and dynamic monitoring. Brilliant!

When written in the year following the 9/11 catastrophe, uncertainty was an important factor for management to consider and the author gives insightful examples of companies doing exactly that. But, in today's global meltdown, planning for uncertainty becomes an absolute necessity.

In a sense, this was a book written ahead of its time. But, you can expect to see more and more books emulating this gem over the next twelve to eighteen months. No need to wait for those books, this book is the pace setter.
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By A Customer on October 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The best thing going for this book is that it is in fact well-written not like most of the dreck in business books. The ideas here are not revolutionary and you're not likely to find anything you hadn't at least heard before. It does however organize all of these disparate thoughts and bring them together in a way to help motivate action.
Along the way I'd also recommend Tony Murphy's Achieving Business Value from IT as a book that effectively does the same thing -- organizes information well to help you move toward positive action and improving process and performance (as oppossed to strategy which is this books forte).
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