Customer Reviews


5 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Update of "Future Shock", 11 Jun 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Inevitable Surprises (Paperback)
In Inevitable Surprises, veteran futurist and scenario constructor, Peter Schwartz, takes an assignment done for Citicorp in 2001 and turns it into a discussion of seven themes for the future.
Here is the book's structure:
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 Science and Technology
Chapter 8: A Cleaner, Deadlier World
Chapter 9: Inevitable Strategies
In chapter 1, he argues that scenarios can predict the future. His most telling example is having helped develop a scenario involving airplanes destroying the World Trade towers for the Hart-Rudman Commission that was reported a few months after President George W. Bush took office in 2000. But no one paid attention. He cites several other examples of denial that have led to corporate disasters from ignoring scenarios he helped construct. If you would like to learn more about scenario construction, I also highly recommend his fine book, The Art of the Long View, which was published in 1991.
What can we expect now? "First, there will be more surprises. Second, we will be able to deal with them. Third, we can anticipate many of them."
Chapter 2 begins by pointing out that the U.S. retirement age began climbing in 2001 and will probably continue to do so. People are living longer, are healthier, and either want to work (as his examples of wealthy, educated people show) or have to work (as his example of the airline attendant in her 70s who cannot afford to retire shows). Even after retirement, these people will be active and be part of society. Strom Thurmond's retiring from the Senate at 100 is described as what could become the norm in the future.
Chapter 3 is more about migration than population growth, which is expected to be pretty much over worldwide in the next 50 years. He focuses on Asians and Hispanics in the U.S., unwelcome Muslims in Europe, and Chinese become mobile around the world.
Chapter 4 describes a return of the old drivers of economic growth: greater productivity; better communications; and greater globalization. He feels that the next 3-4 years might be so-so, but that the good times will be back by late in the decade.
Chapter 5 was written before the war in Iraq began, but it describes the issue of having the U.S. operate unilaterally even when the international community doesn't agree -- becoming a rogue superpower in the eyes of much of the rest of the world. He builds up a theme that nations which are orderly internally and encourage order internationally will do best. Most countries will learn to compete in fostering orderliness, sort of like Singapore.
Chapter 6 describes a world of continuing terrorism, and high costs to offset it. This is not because terrorism really threatens individuals . . . but because the thought of terrorism is intolerable. By changing individual behavior around the world, terrorists are encouraged to continue. He seems establishing honest democracies in all the Middle Eastern countries as the only way around this. He's concerned about the potential of religious groups coming into conflict in other parts of the world.
Chapter 7 is the most intriguing part of the book. He speculates that we could be at the beginning of a new set of fundamental discoveries including new sources of energy, broad scale applications of nanotechnology (molecular devices) controlling biological processes and developing quantum computing, and far-out changes like changing fundamental reality so that science fiction (like teleportation) becomes science fact. If you're not familiar, though, with the background of what he's talking about, you won't get enough here to help you understand it.
Chapter 8 was written before the S.A.R.S. outbreak, but describes a similar scenarios about how new diseases may spread very rapidly and be hard to control. He's very optimistic about ordinary source of pollution being cleaned up, as fossil fuels are replaced by new technologies. In an area where you may not agree, he forecasts a bright future for the growth of atomic energy for power generation.
In Chapter 9, you are given some principles to use in trying to anticipate when to pay attention to concerning these scenarios for a business. These include having "strategic conversations" with colleagues, thinking about "timing," identifying "earning warning indicators," foster your own use of mechanisms that "engender creative destruction," try to avoid denial of the scenarios, think like a "commodity company," be aware of where your judgment is and is not "competent," and focus on learning, good environmental practices and financial infrastructure and support. He reminds readers that there are no "pat" answers or formulas to apply.
For most people, these trends are not new. What's new is his weaving of the trends together into a picture of what could emerge. Necessarily, the pictures are blurry.
The book's main weakness is in the flip and incomplete way that he sometimes introduces ideas. For example, he argues that nuclear reactors are not really dangerous because Israeli air attacks on the reactor in Baghdad failed to destroy the facility. Nowhere is there a description of how to handle the nuclear waste, especially the waste that can be turned into terrorist weapons. As a result, I'd encourage you to take this as "food for thought" rather than being "carved in stone" as inevitable.
After you finish, think about some trend that he did not mention that will be important to your life or your business and think about what will probably happen. My favorite example is the rapid growth in the use of antidepressant medications in the U.S. How will that affect our health, wealth and happiness? What will come next? You probably can think of a trend that has more meaning to you, such as the growth in regular exercise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Update of "Future Shock", 21 Jun 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
In Inevitable Surprises, veteran futurist and scenario constructor, Peter Schwartz, takes an assignment done for Citicorp in 2001 and turns it into a discussion of seven themes for the future.
Here is the book's structure:
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 Science and Technology
Chapter 8: A Cleaner, Deadlier World
Chapter 9: Inevitable Strategies
In chapter 1, he argues that scenarios can predict the future. His most telling example is having helped develop a scenario involving airplanes destroying the World Trade towers for the Hart-Rudman Commission that was reported a few months after President George W. Bush took office in 2000. But no one paid attention. He cites several other examples of denial that have led to corporate disasters from ignoring scenarios he helped construct. If you would like to learn more about scenario construction, I also highly recommend his fine book, The Art of the Long View, which was published in 1991.
What can we expect now? "First, there will be more surprises. Second, we will be able to deal with them. Third, we can anticipate many of them."
Chapter 2 begins by pointing out that the U.S. retirement age began climbing in 2001 and will probably continue to do so. People are living longer, are healthier, and either want to work (as his examples of wealthy, educated people show) or have to work (as his example of the airline attendant in her 70s who cannot afford to retire shows). Even after retirement, these people will be active and be part of society. Strom Thurmond's retiring from the Senate at 100 is described as what could become the norm in the future.
Chapter 3 is more about migration than population growth, which is expected to be pretty much over worldwide in the next 50 years. He focuses on Asians and Hispanics in the U.S., unwelcome Muslims in Europe, and Chinese become mobile around the world.
Chapter 4 describes a return of the old drivers of economic growth: greater productivity; better communications; and greater globalization. He feels that the next 3-4 years might be so-so, but that the good times will be back by late in the decade.
Chapter 5 was written before the war in Iraq began, but it describes the issue of having the U.S. operate unilaterally even when the international community doesn't agree -- becoming a rogue superpower in the eyes of much of the rest of the world. He builds up a theme that nations which are orderly internally and encourage order internationally will do best. Most countries will learn to compete in fostering orderliness, sort of like Singapore.
Chapter 6 describes a world of continuing terrorism, and high costs to offset it. This is not because terrorism really threatens individuals . . . but because the thought of terrorism is intolerable. By changing individual behavior around the world, terrorists are encouraged to continue. He seems establishing honest democracies in all the Middle Eastern countries as the only way around this. He's concerned about the potential of religious groups coming into conflict in other parts of the world.
Chapter 7 is the most intriguing part of the book. He speculates that we could be at the beginning of a new set of fundamental discoveries including new sources of energy, broad scale applications of nanotechnology (molecular devices) controlling biological processes and developing quantum computing, and far-out changes like changing fundamental reality so that science fiction (like teleportation) becomes science fact. If you're not familiar, though, with the background of what he's talking about, you won't get enough here to help you understand it.
Chapter 8 was written before the S.A.R.S. outbreak, but describes a similar scenarios about how new diseases may spread very rapidly and be hard to control. He's very optimistic about ordinary source of pollution being cleaned up, as fossil fuels are replaced by new technologies. In an area where you may not agree, he forecasts a bright future for the growth of atomic energy for power generation.
In Chapter 9, you are given some principles to use in trying to anticipate when to pay attention to concerning these scenarios for a business. These include having "strategic conversations" with colleagues, thinking about "timing," identifying "earning warning indicators," foster your own use of mechanisms that "engender creative destruction," try to avoid denial of the scenarios, think like a "commodity company," be aware of where your judgment is and is not "competent," and focus on learning, good environmental practices and financial infrastructure and support. He reminds readers that there are no "pat" answers or formulas to apply.
For most people, these trends are not new. What's new is his weaving of the trends together into a picture of what could emerge. Necessarily, the pictures are blurry.
The book's main weakness is in the flip and incomplete way that he sometimes introduces ideas. For example, he argues that nuclear reactors are not really dangerous because Israeli air attacks on the reactor in Baghdad failed to destroy the facility. Nowhere is there a description of how to handle the nuclear waste, especially the waste that can be turned into terrorist weapons. As a result, I'd encourage you to take this as "food for thought" rather than being "carved in stone" as inevitable.
After you finish, think about some trend that he did not mention that will be important to your life or your business and think about what will probably happen. My favorite example is the rapid growth in the use of antidepressant medications in the U.S. How will that affect our health, wealth and happiness? What will come next? You probably can think of a trend that has more meaning to you, such as the growth in regular exercise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Perhaps the string that is easiest to pull first....", 18 Feb 2006
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Previously, Schwartz wrote The Art of the Long View as well as The Long Boom (which he co-authored with Peter Leyden and Joel Hyatt) and When Good Companies Do Bad Things (which he co-authored with Blair Gibb). In this volume, he addresses many of the same issues as in his previous works. However, in my opinion, he examines them in much greater depth while addressing other issues suggested by questions such as these:

1. In an increasingly more turbulent environment, how to recognize and understand "the inevitable surprises that lie ahead of us, particularly in the next twenty-five years"? For example, how to know what is needed to be known and then obtain that knowledge?

2. Given those "inevitable surprises," which steps must be taken that would allow a company or organization to thrive? For example, how to overcome "two different types of natural [but fundamentally irresponsible] reaction": denial and defensiveness?

3. What to do when new complications reveal themselves? For example, how can an "early-warning system" identify them so that appropriate and effective responses can be made in a timely manner?

Schwartz's response to only one of these questions is worth far more than the cost of his book. As he explains in Chapter 1, "Underneath the specifics, between the lines on every page in this book, you will find a basic message about the future in general: The challenges facing civilization right now are immense -- arguably more difficult than they have been during the lifetime of any living person. At the same time, because of advances in knowledge and technology, the human race has never been so capable. And since most of our challenges are caused, at least partly, by our own activity, this expanded capability is a double-edged sword." In ways and to an extent which Schwartz carefully explains, these are (in Dickens' words) the best of times and the worst of times.

The material is carefully organized within nine chapters whose titles range from "Inevitable Surprises" to "Inevitable Strategies." Of special interest to me is what Schwartz has to say in Chapter 5, "The Thoroughly New World Order." Here is a representative portion of Schwartz's rigorous narrative: "In the words of Robert Kagan, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus. And then there is a third set of nations, increasingly chaotic and disorderly, in danger of being written off as marginal by the rest of the world. Their power, when they have it, is the power of terrorism. And if that is the only power available to them, they will use it more and more frequently." How prescient.

It is important to keep in mind when reading this book that Schwartz is not relying on a real or imagined crystal ball. He would be the first to insist that, at best, useful speculation identifies degrees of probability. This is especially true of efforts to reduce the number of what would otherwise be "inevitable surprises."

Here's a hypothetical example. (Mine, not Schwartz's.) Let's say that you learn that your next competitive environment will probably involve competition by teams. You cannot (as yet) identify the specific sport but you already know that, whatever it proves to be, members of the team must be in superb physical condition and possess certain qualities such as speed, agility, sufficient intelligence, hand-eye coordination, commitment to teamwork, etc. You should also know where to obtain, on short notice, the equipment needed. Also the correct sizes for various uniforms. Terms and conditions of appropriate behavior can be formulated. Nutrition can be controlled. You can also be alert for "signals" generated by your early-warning system. For example, at some point, you learn that the competition will be indoors. You then learn that height is irrelevant. That rules out basketball. You get the idea.

In all of three of his books that I have read, Schwartz helps his reader to (a) identify relevant probabilities, (b) ask the most important questions bount each, (c) know how and where to obtain the information needed, (d) complete contingency preparations, and (e) modify plans as new information becomes available.

Over the past 50 years, there have been so many examples of this in the business world. They include the pressurized cabin which was essential to airline travel and the rapid adoption of facsimile machines which substantially reduced the volume of overnight delivery of 1-5 page documentsas well as the Internet and WWW which enabled those online to communicate with others online (anywhere and any time), obtain information and complete commercial transactions almost instantaneously. As Schwartz explains so well, once relevant probabilities and heir implications have been identified, better decisions can be made and more effective actions can be taken.

Schwartz is generally optimistic that those who share the "thoroughly new world order" can overcome the chaos and turbulence to come if (a huge "if") they build and then maintain sensory and intelligence systems; cultivate a sense of timing; put in place mechanisms to engender what Joseph Stumper once characterized as "creative destruction"; avoid denial of the chaos and turbulence; "think like a commodity company" (see page 232); remain aware of the competence of judgment and the level of judgment that new situations require, then move deliberately and humbly into new situations that stretch that judgment; place a very, very high premium on learning, on environmental and ecological sustainability, and on financial infrastructure; and finally, cultivate "deep, candid" connections.

Schwartz does not assert that these values and strategies will guarantee the total elimination of all of the problems we have now nor the prevention of others in years to come. However, he has convinced me that these values and strategies can -- and will -- improve the prospects for human survival. I agree with him that "There is no recipe or playbook for doing this. There is only the ongoing knot of life to unravel. Perhaps the string that is easiest to pull first is the string in inevitable surprises."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Update of "Future Shock", 21 Jun 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence (Paperback)
In Inevitable Surprises, veteran futurist and scenario constructor, Peter Schwartz, takes an assignment done for Citicorp in 2001 and turns it into a discussion of seven themes for the future.
Here is the book's structure:
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 Science and Technology
Chapter 8: A Cleaner, Deadlier World
Chapter 9: Inevitable Strategies
In chapter 1, he argues that scenarios can predict the future. His most telling example is having helped develop a scenario involving airplanes destroying the World Trade towers for the Hart-Rudman Commission that was reported a few months after President George W. Bush took office in 2000. But no one paid attention. He cites several other examples of denial that have led to corporate disasters from ignoring scenarios he helped construct. If you would like to learn more about scenario construction, I also highly recommend his fine book, The Art of the Long View, which was published in 1991.
What can we expect now? "First, there will be more surprises. Second, we will be able to deal with them. Third, we can anticipate many of them."
Chapter 2 begins by pointing out that the U.S. retirement age began climbing in 2001 and will probably continue to do so. People are living longer, are healthier, and either want to work (as his examples of wealthy, educated people show) or have to work (as his example of the airline attendant in her 70s who cannot afford to retire shows). Even after retirement, these people will be active and be part of society. Strom Thurmond's retiring from the Senate at 100 is described as what could become the norm in the future.
Chapter 3 is more about migration than population growth, which is expected to be pretty much over worldwide in the next 50 years. He focuses on Asians and Hispanics in the U.S., unwelcome Muslims in Europe, and Chinese become mobile around the world.
Chapter 4 describes a return of the old drivers of economic growth: greater productivity; better communications; and greater globalization. He feels that the next 3-4 years might be so-so, but that the good times will be back by late in the decade.
Chapter 5 was written before the war in Iraq began, but it describes the issue of having the U.S. operate unilaterally even when the international community doesn't agree -- becoming a rogue superpower in the eyes of much of the rest of the world. He builds up a theme that nations which are orderly internally and encourage order internationally will do best. Most countries will learn to compete in fostering orderliness, sort of like Singapore.
Chapter 6 describes a world of continuing terrorism, and high costs to offset it. This is not because terrorism really threatens individuals . . . but because the thought of terrorism is intolerable. By changing individual behavior around the world, terrorists are encouraged to continue. He seems establishing honest democracies in all the Middle Eastern countries as the only way around this. He's concerned about the potential of religious groups coming into conflict in other parts of the world.
Chapter 7 is the most intriguing part of the book. He speculates that we could be at the beginning of a new set of fundamental discoveries including new sources of energy, broad scale applications of nanotechnology (molecular devices) controlling biological processes and developing quantum computing, and far-out changes like changing fundamental reality so that science fiction (like teleportation) becomes science fact. If you're not familiar, though, with the background of what he's talking about, you won't get enough here to help you understand it.
Chapter 8 was written before the S.A.R.S. outbreak, but describes a similar scenarios about how new diseases may spread very rapidly and be hard to control. He's very optimistic about ordinary source of pollution being cleaned up, as fossil fuels are replaced by new technologies. In an area where you may not agree, he forecasts a bright future for the growth of atomic energy for power generation.
In Chapter 9, you are given some principles to use in trying to anticipate when to pay attention to concerning these scenarios for a business. These include having "strategic conversations" with colleagues, thinking about "timing," identifying "earning warning indicators," foster your own use of mechanisms that "engender creative destruction," try to avoid denial of the scenarios, think like a "commodity company," be aware of where your judgment is and is not "competent," and focus on learning, good environmental practices and financial infrastructure and support. He reminds readers that there are no "pat" answers or formulas to apply.
For most people, these trends are not new. What's new is his weaving of the trends together into a picture of what could emerge. Necessarily, the pictures are blurry.
The book's main weakness is in the flip and incomplete way that he sometimes introduces ideas. For example, he argues that nuclear reactors are not really dangerous because Israeli air attacks on the reactor in Baghdad failed to destroy the facility. Nowhere is there a description of how to handle the nuclear waste, especially the waste that can be turned into terrorist weapons. As a result, I'd encourage you to take this as "food for thought" rather than being "carved in stone" as inevitable.
After you finish, think about some trend that he did not mention that will be important to your life or your business and think about what will probably happen. My favorite example is the rapid growth in the use of antidepressant medications in the U.S. How will that affect our health, wealth and happiness? What will come next? You probably can think of a trend that has more meaning to you, such as the growth in regular exercise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!, 4 Aug 2004
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Change is no news. The great changes that will alter the commercial, political and demographic workings of the world are already underway and some of their consequences are quite predictable, says author Peter Schwartz. He outlines a variety of the more important changes, particularly in places such as China and India, and limns scenarios that represent possible futures. Perhaps this sort of book is inevitable at the turning of a century, of a millennium. The author, in fact, compares his work to predecessors at the end of the nineteenth century. Although some of his predictions fall far short of shocking - for example, global warming and aging populations are hardly undiscovered issues - the exercise of thinking about scenarios and preparing strategies is a good one. The book is also entertaining, because Schwartz writes with a light hand and a casual style. We believe this book would be a good airplane read. It would certainly be appropriate for a long flight, since air travel contributes to some of the more important changes the author discusses. And, if you read it, the time will fly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence
Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence by Peter Schwartz (Paperback - 2 Aug 2004)
Used & New from: 1.91
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews