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

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  760 ratings  ·  66 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 of
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1996 by Currency (first published 1991)
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Michael Burnam-Fink
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, academic, innovation
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
Jun 17, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nate Huston
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Blue Morse
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is not about predicting the future, rather it is about perceiving futures in the present as a means to penetrate our assumptions and internal mental defenses. Put simply, this book is about how to adapt and survive in an ever changing environment by asking the right questions through scenario based reasoning.

Schwartz unpacks a lot of themes in this book like the power of narratives, diversity of thought, and organizational resiliency.

However, arguably his best contribution is the met
In the early 1970’s Royal Dutch Shell formed a unit called Group Planning. Lead by Pierre Wack this group made scenario planning a part of the strategic process in the company. When OPEC caught the rest of the world by surprise by declaring an oil embargo in 1973, Shell was mentally prepared for a situation like this and could take actions that propelled them to become the largest company in the world. They had already thought through what they would do and how they would act if a scenario like ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Really 2.5 stars, but Goodreads.

So this is an overview of how to be a "futurist," which is someone who tries to anticipate how various changes in business, culture, and whatever else will affect the choices you make today. Schwartz draws mostly on his work at Shell back in the 70s and 80s to talk about creating scenarios, which are narratives of possible futures. The information is solid, challenging the reader to consider if this happened, then what--it's not a hard concept, but not one that pe
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, read-twice
The book utilized the notion of "scenario" to explain lots of phenomenons from business world, such as which business does well during which period of time which really made sense to me.

A complete scenario session puts you on right business track. But there is a prerequisite, and this is a big prerequisite - you need to do a tons, tons, and tons of field research on what customer is really looking for. You spend time and energy to know that even during the hard economic times, people are still
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book written in the early 1990s by noted futurist Peter Schwartz. Much of what the author offers parallels later works by Danikel Kaheman and Gary Klein. Most notably, Schwartz describes his approach to building scenarios to change the way that decision-makers in large organizations think about future possibilities. As he notes, scenari0-building is not about prediction, it is about re-perceiving what MIGHT happen. Doing so gets leaders beyond the stagnation of status quos and ...more
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Schwartz approach to the scenario planning - "Using scenarios is rehearsing the future. You run through the simulated events as if you were already living them. You train yourself to recognize which drama is unfolding. That helps you avoid unpleasant surprises, and know how to act."
The valuable part of this book is an in-depth description of methods and ways of thinking developed in Shell for their strategic conversations. It's just what I was looking for.
Some of the illustrating stori
J  Brown
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a must for anyone who needs the understanding of what the long hard hours are leading to at the end of the day. Once you have dedicated yourself to your craft you can appreciate the ideas the Peter Schwatrz presents in The Art of the Long View. His explanation of deliberate practice is a keen insight on how to focus and make the most of the fruits of a punishing workload. For those who are disciplined and/or fortunate enough not to have gone through the labor of deliberate practice ...more
Mohamed Yehia
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
The book is one of the classics in the strageic scenario planning technique as a more effective way of strategic planing than the traditional fixed way of seeing only one future state & work towards it.

It talks about the origin of the subject & the first projects that had successfully used this planing tool.

The books lays the foundations of this field of knowledge in a really good way, with an easy to understand language away from any embegouty.

The process he describes is a bit old after this
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am just trying to understand the theories and pragmatics of futuristic studies. This is the first book, which I read after received a recommendation. I would say, this makes a simple understanding of scenario planning. Despite the fact that it was published in 1990s, I would say a beginner can understand how to see the long view with enough of examples.
Vikrant Singal
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was written in 1991, but I found it tremendously useful even in 2018. I continuously wondered why this book was not a prescribed text at my MBA school. This has to rank as one the better books on strategy and future planning.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was probably precedent setting when published. On scanning through it in 2017, I thought it presented a good check list for bracketing a challenging issue. However, most futurists have incorporated the approach outlined in their analysis.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Read this for school and I am not exactly sure why. I imagine my professor was moved by this book in 1990, but all reference points are so very dated and reading a self-proclaimed futurist wax poetic about the technological advancements of Walkmen and fax machines in 2019 is painful.
Charlotte Sloan
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great for military

Must read for all current a future leaders of the military. This is how you develop strategic thinkers who may be positioned at the strategic, operational or tactical level.
Marion Kipiani
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: strategy
A good discussion of the importance of scenario planning and the steps in developing scenarios. The book would have benefited from being a little less wordy and better organized,avoiding multiple afterwords, appendices, etc.
Martine Delannoy
Jun 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an easy read and is definitively a "must read" for any futures specialist.
I managed to find a few useful tips for improving my future scenario work.
However the publication from 1997 contains examples that have become very outdated.
Ryan Coons
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Somewhat dated, but usable.
Nick Lofthouse
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone involved in strategy, projections, or forecasting.
Mark Kelley
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book some time ago to learn more about scenario planning. Successful scenario plans include unconventional thinking and look at fringe technologies to identify different scenarios.
Sanjeev Roy
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book very useful in appreciating the concept of Scenario Planning. Have since been using it to study our own pandemic afflicted world.
I wish it had the tools more clearly defined.
Michael Belcher
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Informative discussion of using scenario planning (story-telling) to develop alternative future. While interesting, I recommend scanning the chapters for the strategic planning steps and skip the self-indulgent stories. A sample population of 1 does not constitute sufficient proof of effectiveness.
Scott Ford
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
A bit too redundant and being nearly 27 years old also made it a challenging read. This could have been a 20 page white paper or a great HBR article with the same data. The guy loves what he does and writes like it - in a long-winded fashion. I would think someone with a career in business would be more succinct.
Isaac Perez Moncho
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The tool described, scenario planning, it's extremely useful when thinking strategically and creating new strategies.
The book explains how to create future scenarios, the pitfalls and the benefits.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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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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