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Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence

by Peter Schwartz

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1101199,688 (3.42)1
One of America's foremost prognosticators and author of the bestseller and management classic The Art of the Long Viewdiscusses the big surprises ahead, the resulting scenarios that are creating the future of our world, and what they will mean for you and your business. The world we live in today is more volatile than ever. At times it seems that the only constant we can rely on is change itself-and what the future will bring appears to be anybody's guess. But Peter Schwartz, one of the most visionary scenario planners of our time, believes the future is taking shape around us now, and that by taking a closer look at the changes in action today, we can predict what the world of tomorrow will be like. With Inevitable Surprises, Schwartz offers a provocative look at the forces that are dramatically reshaping our world-and shows what we can do to plan ahead for our society, our businesses, and ourselves. Each chapter takes a predetermined new reality that we will soon face-including regenerative medicine, global climate change, an aging population in the West, and the rise of terrorism-and offers critical foresight for the coming decades. Ultimately, Schwartz brings his analyses of these developments together to offer three overarching scenarios that are possible directions for world history in the coming years, and outlines the implications for each. Timely, thought-provoking, and endlessly fascinating, Peter Schwartz's Inevitable Surprisesis a book no one in business-or anyone with an interest in the future-can afford to miss.… (more)
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Schwartz is the author of the very influential Art of the Long View, the book that made scenarios a household word. This 2003 book is a follow-up to that, a very necessary one. In addition to cataloging the surprises that he thinks are inevitable, he also expounds on the importance of using scenarios correctly – as the Bush Administration recently failed to do.

The use of three scenarios (four is too confusing, two is too limiting) is now standard practice in almost any kind of planning. While this book came out too early to deal with the Go Long/Go Strong/ Go Home scenarios, Schwartz does discuss the failure of such obviously pre-determined planning. The purpose of scenarios is not to predict the future accurately. If it were that simple to predict the future, everyone would do it. The goal is to look at possibilities that stretch your thinking. Whether oil prices are going to go up or down, planners should break through their assumptions and prepare for futures that will not go the way they would like. This “re-perception” is the real value of using scenarios.

It also shows the phoniness of the Bush planning and scenario use during the run up to the surge. Going home was never a possibility and no amount of reality could make it so. Going long is the reality that has resulted, but those words could not be used, since they would expose the bankruptcy of the policy, even though it was likely the best description of the policy from the beginning. Go strong is also a misuse of words, since we are only going back to the number of troops that were insufficient in the past. It was predetermined what Bush’s decision would be and no new thoughts or perceptions would be permitted. No voice would be given to futures that would not be to Bush’s liking.

Moving from the immediate politics, the book is chock full of great ideas, especially for a reality based community. Schwartz even acknowledges the possibility that America will turn into a rogue super-power, citing that as one of the few events that can shutdown what he sees as an inevitable future of wonders. Don’t worry. He is not looking through rose colored glasses. Vastly increased surveillance. The near certainty of deadly plagues. Large scale migrations, not all of them voluntary.

The most useful takeaway is the chapter on inevitable strategies – how to prepare not just for futures we can foresee, but those we can’t. Even when the broad strokes are clear, the secondary effects of those stroke can be world changing.

Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence

Chapter 1 - Inevitable Surprises

Chapter 2 - A World Integrated with Elders

Chapter 3 - The Great Flood of People

Chapter 4 - The Return of the Long Boom

Chapter 5 - The Thoroughly New World Order

Chapter 6 - A Catalog of Disorder

Chapter 7 - Breakthroughs in Breaking Through: Science and Technology

Chapter 8 - A Cleaner, Deadlier World

Chapter 9 - Inevitable Strategies ( )
  neotradlibrarian | Nov 25, 2007 |
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One of America's foremost prognosticators and author of the bestseller and management classic The Art of the Long Viewdiscusses the big surprises ahead, the resulting scenarios that are creating the future of our world, and what they will mean for you and your business. The world we live in today is more volatile than ever. At times it seems that the only constant we can rely on is change itself-and what the future will bring appears to be anybody's guess. But Peter Schwartz, one of the most visionary scenario planners of our time, believes the future is taking shape around us now, and that by taking a closer look at the changes in action today, we can predict what the world of tomorrow will be like. With Inevitable Surprises, Schwartz offers a provocative look at the forces that are dramatically reshaping our world-and shows what we can do to plan ahead for our society, our businesses, and ourselves. Each chapter takes a predetermined new reality that we will soon face-including regenerative medicine, global climate change, an aging population in the West, and the rise of terrorism-and offers critical foresight for the coming decades. Ultimately, Schwartz brings his analyses of these developments together to offer three overarching scenarios that are possible directions for world history in the coming years, and outlines the implications for each. Timely, thought-provoking, and endlessly fascinating, Peter Schwartz's Inevitable Surprisesis a book no one in business-or anyone with an interest in the future-can afford to miss.

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