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The Art Of The Long View: Planning For The Future In An Uncertain World

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  359 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1996 by Crown Business (first published 1991)
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Michael Burnam-fink
I've been calling myself a futurist for the past five years, and for five years, I've been lying. But no longer, because I've read this book, which is every bit as a thought-provoking as Science Fiction for Prototyping proved disappointing. Peter Schwartz is one of the founders of the Global Business Network consulting firm, and honed his skills designing scenarios for Shell Oil in the 1980s. In The Art of the Long View, he makes a strong case for the utility of scenario planning, explains how t ...more
It's easy for a book published in 1991 to feel dated, especially when the second last chapter of the book is titled "The World in 2005: Three Scenarios" and when the book references Mikhail Gorbachev. But Chapter 9 aside, The Art of the Long View is still a very relevant read for anyone looking at the medium to long term and wondering how they can position themselves and their organisations to meet future challenges. More so in these volatile times when it seems that we're not just confronted by ...more
Jonathan Jeckell
I had major reservations about this book at first. I've been deeply steeped in books like "Thinking Fast and Slow" and "Think Twice" that warn about the dangers of our intuition and our penchant for developing a coherent narrative. As I continued, the author emphasized the need to develop multiple scenarios and avoid latching on to one of them as your official or favorite prediction. He gave pretty solid guidance o ...more
Jun 17, 2007 Infromsea rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
I hate not finishing a book. I’ve only “not finished” three or four books in my life, this book really tested me to the end. It’s on the Navy recommended reading list so I pulled it down and took it for a spin. Let me sum it up for you: think of all possibilities and what you would do should those possibilities come to light. Honestly, that’s it. Don’t waste you time, move on. There is a great deal of attempting to back up the art of looking forward and thinking of all possibilities with data bu ...more
Chris Lund
I'm not really sure what the purpose of this book is. It seems to basically boil down to "you should consider a few different possible futures before making decisions and you should be prepared for futures that are different from what you expect". While this sort of thinking is certainly useful, the book doesn't really add a whole lot more than that. It covers some basic strategies and concepts for structuring potential future "scenarios", but for the most part it reads more like a long advertis ...more
Shows its age, but well worth reading, sold on scenario-building.

I'm reviewing the 1996 edition.

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 wh
Nate Huston
A bit like "Good Strategy Bad Strategy" in that it is fairly straightforward and discusses standard corporate planning and strategy fare. Again, nothing too earth-shattering, though to someone not familiar with this sort of scenario-based planning, it is a great introduction. For the more advanced reader or practitioner, it still has value insofar as it simplifies and codifies what good scenario-based planning is all about - better decision-making.

The most valuable insight in Schwartz's book is
Matt Mayevsky
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 on the scenario method. What can you learn from a book? First of all, the publication opens your eyes to the possibilities offered by foresight in every area of life. Second, the author puts emphasis on business applications convincing about the need and possibilities of foresight for both corporations and small busines ...more
Mark Lacy
Read this because of Stewart Brand's "The Clock of the Long Now", and because I thought it might be helpful if I changed my career at my company to something more related to scenario planning and systems dynamics. Not a hard book to read, but it's not readily apparent how something that seems a relatively simple process could have such a huge impact in various businesses. Guess I need to see it in action sometime.
Foundational text on scenario planning

Peter Schwartz evidences charming honesty and humility about his experiences building scenarios. He learned from his failures, so he includes them, as well as his rather impressive successes. Schwartz emphasizes that scenario planning is not the same thing as predicting the future and that complete accuracy is not the goal. Yet, it is still striking how accurately his 1991 scenarios played out. He may have missed a few specific events and trends but, if you’
Neeraj Bali
An interesting primer to strategic thinking by the 'Scenario Method'. I enjoyed its simplicity, but wished it had not beend so simplistic. As I read, I hungrily looked for a complete example of decision making that would open a new window for me. For example, the author builds three futuristic scenarios for the world (for the year 2005) but, at the end of it, does not mention - leave alone explain - what decisions are influenced by such an exercise.

I also tried relating it to strategic decision
Wens Tan
Peter Schwartz is an experienced futurist who had done scenario planning for companies such as Shell. He is the co-founder of Global Business Network, a consultancy for stategic scenario planning.

This book is about his experience in and views of using scenarios to help companies prepare strategically for an uncertain future. The idea is to use easily grasped "stories" to help companies decide whether their decisions can make sense in different possible futures, and to even consider alternative
I found this one interesting specifically for the predictions in it that actually came true. It is somewhat disconcerting to see predictions in an old book come to reality. I found the content interesting and insightful. Hopefully I can put the recommendations into practice.
Probably one of the books that influenced me most. An extraordinarily generative way to 'learn from the future'. It was part of the secret of why the South African transition to democracy was successful as it was used to make the parties get realistic about the possible futures facing South Africa. But it is also a dramatically useful business tool for dealing with the unforeseeable future by trying to capture the possible scenarios that might unfold and finding ways to be ready or at least awar ...more
Paulo Reimann
Simply and plainly: a must read.

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.
I really did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but I feel ilke it gets me. It really discusses who I try to be...a person who is constantly trying to stay on top of everything, and understand how the future may lay that I may create stories within that future. (whether on a small or large scale) It explains my draw to book stores, and asking too many questions of people I just meet, among other things. I think it is an excellent book, and offers a lot of insight into humani ...more
Tapani Aulu
Erinomainen johdatus tulevaisuustutkimuksen perustutkimusmenetelmään skenaarionrakentamiseen. Pääsi hyvin perille siitä mitä Mari tekee gradussaan.
Radovan Janecek
some nice parts but in general, I guess I am skeptical about predicting future...
use scenario method to think about and plan for future possibilities
building blocks of scenario are: society, technology, economics,politics, and environment

3 types: more of same, worse , different -better with profound social changes

problem of denial - may not be able to contemplate so use scenario/stories with figures
3 broad perspectives - optimists, pessimists and status quo seekers
look at broad picture and specific areas of concern - global and local
conduct wide research - include fringe ide
A little dated, but deeply transformational. Highly recommended to strategists and would-be strategists.
At times disorganized and random, Peter Schwartz still wrote a compelling book about the requirement to stay relevant or die. Written in the early nineties many of his 23 year old predictions never materialized, but still he foresaw the technology revolution that is still churning. This book's points come to mind often when I'm disengaged from my daily work routine, on a long jot or drive. Therefore, I liked it and will keep it on my shelf for reference in the years to come.
It presents a pretty interesting concept of how to plan and see things, but I found it a bit repetitive. I also didnt like that the author was very arrogant. He makes a claim that he predicted the fall of Russia and the CIA wouldnt listen to him. The last few chapters talked about a concept of the teenager of the future that I found a bit unrealistic. It is worth a read because it has interesting thoughts just dont take it for ground truth.
Really enjoyed this book - the concept of scenarios, story telling new ideas for yourself and seeing them as myths of the future is something which really appeals to me.

I ended up writing my own story as I read it, how I saw myself both now and in the future.

I liked the idea of how there are plots in the world, which affect your individual story. Interestingly this isn't a creative writing book, but a book about being entrepreneurial!
I have used scenarios as a thinking technique since reading this book a decade ago.
Consider multiple scenarios for the future, focusing on uncertainties and what could make your assumptions fall through. Practice mental preparation for alternate futures according to their likelihood, and push to encounter new ideas. Scenario-writing is a lot like screen-writing, in devising plots and selling the ideas to those in charge. [Also entertaining for early nineties predictions about the coming generation.]
Interesting approach to thinking strategically about the future: do tons of research about trends that affect your business, and from those trends, create scenarios about possible alternative futures. then imagine how various strategic decisions would play out in these scenarios...

I would love to be part of an organization that went through the process he outlines. It would be fascinating!
The focus was on scenario planning which is always interesting. I had hoped it would have more insights for other aspects of strategic planning but overall it was good and worth the time to read.
Ash Crowe
Like many management books this one would function just as well if I contained only the summation & appendices. Schawrtz's users guide for strategic discussions and scenario planning steps are useful. The book in total, however, drags and repeats itself too much for my tastes.
Enjoyed book.Received many useful tips on forecasting and building scenarios in order to achieve great outcomes.Lots of coaching is given about predetermined elements and looking for driving forces that effect results.
I read this book multiple times in the mid 90s. Brilliant, forward-thinking concepts for pushing one's thinking into new roads--especially appropriate for risk management, but also opportunity identification.
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Don't waste your time 1 16 Jun 17, 2007 02:04PM  
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Peter is the author of Inevitable Surprises (2003), a provocative look at the dynamic forces at play in the world today and their implications for business and society. His first book, The Art of the Long View(1991), is considered a seminal publication on scenario planning and was recently voted the No. 1 futures book by the Association of Professional Futurists. He also co-authored The Long Boom ...more
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“And there is, of course, a filter within yourself. When a book, or magazine article, or idea makes you uncomfortable, notice your exact reaction. If you're bored, move on. If you feel threatened, stay with it and see what troubles you.” 0 likes
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