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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
What increasingly affects all of us, whether professional planners or individuals preparing for a better future, is not the tangibles of life - bottom-line numbers, for instance - but the intangibles: our hopes and fears, our beliefs and dreams. Only stories - scenarios - and our ability to visualize different kinds of futures adequately capture these intangibles. In The Art of the Long View, now for the first time in paperback and with the addition of an all-new User's Guide, Peter Schwartz outlines the "scenaric" approach, giving you the tools for developing a strategic vision within your business. Schwartz describes the new techniques, originally developed within Royal/Dutch Shell, based on many of his firsthand scenario exercises with the world's leading institutions and companies, including the White House, EPA, BellSouth, PG&E, and the International Stock Exchange.
About the Author
Peter Schwartz is the chairman of the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, as well as the teacher of an advanced writing course at the Institute's Objectivist Graduate Center.
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What the book does well.
It’s a great sales pitch for the concept of scenario-building. I'm sold on the idea.
It's very approachable and easy reading. There are a lot of anecdotes, asides about history, culture, and social observations. I appreciated Peter Schwartz's keen powers of observation.
That said, the writing style is mostly in the form of anecdotes, most of which will be confusing to readers who did not grow up in the 80s. The book's age is a constant distraction.
There are a lot of excellent academic level concepts on scenario-building, how it work, why it works, how to make it work. Most of it is summarized in the index, which is not to miss.
Overall, it's a great introduction to the concepts of scenario planning. It has many flaws, but it's well worth reading.
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.
Author of The Art of the Long View is a former employee of SRI International, Shell and co-founder of the Global Business Network. From today, Peter Schwartz is my guru of the foreight and scenario method.