The friend who recommended Peter Schwartz’s The Art of the Long View lent me his copy of Schwartz’s Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence. This book was not about scenario planning, but it provided data for a scenario planning view. You do not have to have read The Art of the Long View to appreciate and learn from this title.
The first third of the book covered some of the things that are going to happen due to demographic changes. These few chapters spooked me and made me worry about our lack of planning, but I’ll probably put those problems on the back burner……and keep watching to see which way things shake out. The issue of the rapidly rising number of elderly people is a good place to learn to deal with scenario planning and Schwartz’s take on the future. There are some big changes coming that have to happen, based on what’s happened so far. What we don’t know is how governments and cultures and individuals will respond to those changes. So you have to keep your ear to the ground or keep scanning the horizon (choose your metaphor) to be able to react appropriately once things head down a certain path.
The last two thirds of the book were much more interesting to me, given my recent readings. Schwartz covers his view on the Long Boom, which will return. Then he moves into the econo-political problems of today’s world and covers some of the ways those conflicts may be resolved or may get worse. He ends the book with a scenario planning view of global climate changes and our responses to it, followed by some general strategies which anyone can apply to their life to make them more aware of what’s going on and to help them respond more effectively to the inevitable surprises which are coming down the pike.
I told someone at work today that reading this book is very much like being at a seminar and listening to a very engaging speaker. I would like meet Mr. Schwartz one day.