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The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World Paperback – Unabridged, April 15, 1996
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From the Back Cover
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This book is about using future scenarios to make better current decisions. As Peter Schwartz alerts us, "Scenarios are not predictions." They represent instead, possible alternative dimensions of the future that reflect the driving forces of that future. This is particularly valuable now because unpredictability is growing. "Unpredictability in every field is the result of the conquest of the whole of the present world by scientific power."
You are encouraged to use these scenarios as simulations to help you think more concretely and accurately about what might come next. Then you choose decisions and actions that leave you better off than the alternatives, regardless of the future scenario that occurs. Such scenarios are like projected script plots for a movie, and help us develop "memories of the future" (as David Ingvar noted) that make thinking about the future more practical for us. Generally one scenario will be better than the current direction, one worse, and one different.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of these practices is that "scenarios are . . . the most powerful vehicles . . . for challenging our 'mental models' about the world and lifting the 'blinders' that limit our creativity and resourcefulness." So you can think of scenarios as a stallbusting technique for overcoming the miscommunication, misconception, and disbelief stalls, as well.Read more ›
Managers of companies (regardless of size or nature) are already aware of constant change within their competitive marketplace. Recent developments, notably use of the Internet to expedite globalization, suggest that change will occur progressively faster and have progressively greater impact, both positive and negative.
Meanwhile, for obvious reasons, managers of companies face daily situations and circumstances which require immediate attention and, more often than not, they must quickly make decisions which have profound implications. As a result managers find it very difficult to see "the larger picture", to maintain a "long-term perspective."
Schwartz suggests how. Like Drucker, he avoids making predictions. Rather, he helps his reader to formulate the degree of probability of certain events yet to occur...and then to prepare accordingly.
But Peter Schwartz's book takes planning for the future to a much higher level. Subtitled "Planning for the future in an uncertain world", in "The art of the long view" Schwartz illustrates his own successful recipe for practical futurism.
He outlines a "scenario" approach for developing a strategic vision. This approach involves developing 2 - 4 varying scenarios. The approach is based upon a series of steps for developing each scenario, preparing for the likelihood each scenario, and recognising early on which one (or more than one) scenario is actually eventuating, so that appropriate steps can be taken.
Although the proposed scenarios are to be presented in a narrative form (which may make some people uncomfortable), the "Long View" approach is quite methodical (though it could perhaps have been presented in a more organised fashion). Apart from that, the approach holds much advantage. I expected a full-on business book glorifying globalisation, knowing that Schwartz had been involved with several multi-nationals like the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company. I was therefore pleasantly surprised with Schwartz's environmental leanings and his inclusion of the ecological impacts of decisions in scenarios.
Taking into account the success rate of teams in which Schwartz has been involved with in the past, the scenario developing strategy definitely seems to me to have much merit. (It would be interesting to see how his predictions for 2005 turns out - in 3 years time). Now if we could only get politicians to read this book and look past their re-election windows. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine read on the foundations and methods of scenario planning. I learned a great deal about the why of this type of planning, not just the how. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gordon Straw
Padded, repetitive, self promoting. Basic thesis has merit but could be stated in a shorter essay.Published 5 months ago by Robert Cluff
It was written back some 25 years ago or so. Feels like coming from the future. A must read, re read and enjoyed. Why not practiced.Published 14 months ago by Paulo Reimann
The Art of the Long View is one of the best books I've read about foresight. The publication contains many valuable examples of business use of foresight with particular emphasis... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Matt Mayevsky