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The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World Paperback – Unabridged, April 15, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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

Schwartz is co-founder and chairman of Global Business Network.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Currency Doubleday; Reprint edition (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385267320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385267328
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME on October 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you liked Arie de Geus' book, The Living Company, or The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, you will find The Art of the Long View a related, helpful exploration of how to go beyond "forecasting" the future to "preparing" for it.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Chairman of the Global Business Network, Schwartz is one of the world's leading futurists. As also indicated in the more recently published The Long Boom, his writing is as clear and crisp as his thinking. Schwartz's comments and suggestions are anchored in extensive real-world experience. His objective is to explain the process of what he calls "scenario-building" which enables managers to "invent and then consider, in depth, several varied stories of equally plausible futures" so that they can make (in his words) "strategic decisions that will be sound for all plausible futures. No matter what future takes place, you are much more likely to be ready for it -- and influential in it -- if you have thought seriously about scenarios."
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.
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I belief that I possess a strong and reliable gut-feel or instinct. I also have a good knack for organising and quantifying information to help me in the process of decision making. Together these factors which have helped me through many decisions, from moderately difficult to life changing decisions, such as immigration.
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.
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