Tuesday, September 09, 2003

At our August 25 Senior Operations meeting, the CIO tossed out a pile of books and asked everyone to take one and bring back a half page book report in two weeks. I choose The Art of the Long View.

This book was written by noted futurist Peter Schwartz and is designed to provide a toolkit for long term planning and thinking. The toolkit resolves around developing scenarios to alternative futures and using these scenarios to help plan. His scenarios are not technical presentations, but stories. The author draws the analogy of writing scripts for the theater as a way to think about the development of the scenarios.

My favorite section of the book was entitled Tactics: Where to Look in the Information-Hunting and Gathering chapter. His recommended sources for information to research scenarios includes: remarkable people; sources of surprise (reading outside your immediate specialty); filters (routinely pick up a dozen magazines from a newsstand and scan them); immersion in challenging environments (travel is the single best way to immerse yourself in unfamiliarity); and networked sensibilities (using technology to exchange and share information).

An interesting application of the tools can be seen in some scenarios developed by the Valleys Futures Project. As part of this project, four possible scenarios for the Sacramento area in 2025 were developed, including: Rios de Oro; Silver Lining; New Tech Mirage; and Paradise Lost.

If you live in Sacramento, I strongly recommend reading the Silver Lining scenario!

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