Summary of The Art of the Long View

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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’d based your actions on his scenarios, you would have been well-equipped for the last two decades. His very useful principles of scenario planning and multisource information gathering have not changed since he delineated them. The result is a classic. getAbstract recommends this book to entrepreneurs, organizational decision makers and anyone interested in strategic planning, futurism or change.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz is a futurist, the co-founder of the Global Business Network and the author of Inevitable Surprises and When Good Companies Do Bad Things, among other books.



A Tool for All Futures: Scenarios

The future is so uncertain that it makes people anxious. They don’t know what decisions to make now. To equip yourself to make informed choices in this continually shifting world, use scenarios. A scenario isn’t a prediction. No one can know the future with certainty, and if you think you do, you’re sure to be wrong. That is why the process of “scenario planning” calls for developing challenging stories about a number of possible futures. First, gather the best data available from a broad range of sources. Include information and perspectives that are just appearing on the horizon and on the fringes of society. Use the data to generate several divergent yet plausible scenarios, each incorporating different assumptions about the nature of the changes your organization will face. This lets you examine which futures might unfold and anticipate and rehearse possible responses.

Whether you’re starting a small business or running a multinational company, you need to ask the same kinds of questions about possible futures that may affect you. Some people will be better at building scenarios than others, at least at the start, but everyone ...

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