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Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence
During the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, some disturbances hit societies all around the world. Japan faced economic hardships, as opposed to China’s and India’s growth.
Who Should Read “Inevitable Surprises”? And Why?
This world continually changes. According to author Peter Schwartz, the changes that will transform the global business, politics, and demographics are in progress by now.
He also argues that most of their outcomes are entirely predictable. He plots an assortment of the more critical changes, especially in countries like China and India, and outlines scenarios for the potential futures.
Schwartz has written this book using a light tone and writing style, so the book is an easy read, entertaining for everyone. We recommend “Inevitable Surprises” to all people that have a few hours to spare, and for those who want to contemplate the possible futures of the world we live in.
About Peter Schwartz
Peter Schwartz is part of the Monitor Group and an executive of Global Business Network. He is a partner in the venture capital ﬁrm Alta Partners as well. He has authored The Art of the Long View, and co-authored The Long Boom and When Bad Companies Do Good Things.
He lives in California and has advised ﬁlmmaker Steven Spielberg on possible futures of the world.
“Inevitable Surprises Summary”
Technology continued advancing, and the dot.com stock market bubble emerged. Numerous terrorist attacks happened around the world, culminating with the 9/11. The Euro’s establishment supplanted the pound, mark, and the franc. The global economy noticed a steady development; all the while anti-globalization movements started appearing.
All of these changes are linked among themselves, and they are outcomes of certain underlying circumstances. On the one hand, a handful of positive factors such as technology, investment, and education, combined with decreased corruption and more democratic governments, fueled the economic growth.
On the other hand, negative factors such as Islamic radicalism, the imbalance between economic growth and environmental care, a widened gap between the wealthy and the poor, and the existence of new diseases, brought adverse events.
The future is expected to play out in the zone where the positive and the adverse circumstances touch each other. Depending on which one of the two groups prove stronger, there are two scenarios for the future.
In the first situation, China will become a global industrial leader, and an Asian power structure will be created, India will notice a significant economic leap, the U.S.’s technological advancements will create a new productivity boom and will put together a new international system including Islamic nations.
The second one, on the other hand, would be a result of the supremacy of negative forces and would include wars against terrorism and local conflicts in Nigeria, Pakistan, Africa, as well as an Islamic revolution in Saudi Arabia.
These regional conflicts matter to the whole world since they influence resources which are essential to the global economy, such as oil, which will become more expensive.
The world has been under the influence of two important particularities in the past: agricultural development and the industrial revolution. Agriculture helped people achieve stability. Hunting wasn’t a sustainable way of life, since meat from dead animals doesn’t last long, so people had to hunt regularly.
The time that people spent hunting meant that they didn’t have time for development of literature, mathematics, music, etc. With agriculture, people could cultivate, and more importantly store food surpluses, which on the other hand stimulated trade.
When the agricultural society reached its peak of development, revolutions happened. When knowledge started to spread around, the scientific-technical way of thinking dominated the societies. This mindset led to the industrial revolution.
The third particularity that the world expects to happen will presumably lead to a much more significant transformation. We cannot be sure whether a positive or an adverse change awaits the world.
But still, whatever happens, if you do not prepare ahead of time, your enterprise will inevitably react to the coming transition either by denying it or by fearing it. None of these responses is advantageous. When you face change, you need to be reasonable and rational.
Assess your current situation, your company, and your capabilities. According to your assessment, find a way to react to the changing environment. And lastly, do not fight change, accept it work with it.
Key Lessons from “Inevitable Surprises”
Many possibilities exist for the future, which you cannot foresee with certainty. So what can you do to prepare? Well, there are a few measures you can take.
1. Create the proper company culture
2. Develop a list of indicators
3. Keep expanding
Create the proper company culture
Make sure that in your company you encourage a culture of thinking and communication about important forces that can challenge your firm.
Never deny the possibility of change, no matter how unimaginable it looks at the moment.
Develop a list of indicators
These indicators should urge you to take action and show you when it is time to react to the changing environment. Timing is everything, so assess how much time you have before a change happens, and how much time you have to get ready for it.
Recognize the importance of ﬁnance and make sure your company has the needed financial means to be able to transform when change happens.
Keep expanding and emphasize continuous learning and training. At the same time, know your limits. Be aware of what you can do and try to do it in the best way possible, but don’t assume that just because you are an expert in one area, you are good at everything.
Respect the competence and insight others can give you. Also, don’t forget to think of externalities. In other words, stay aware of the surroundings and the working climate and react based on your position.
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“Inevitable Surprises” QuotesNanotechnology is one of several ’stage-one’ technologies that are predetermined to appear soon. Click To Tweet Europe has become a postmilitary power. Click To Tweet Ultimately, the quality of globalization depends upon the levels of trust and mistrust among governments, international businesses, major investors and bankers, and consumers. Click To Tweet We can’t know the consequences in advance, or how they will affect us, but we know many of the surprises to come. Click To Tweet The great risk of our time is being overtaken by inevitable surprises. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
The author juxtaposes his work to his predecessors’ actions towards the end of the nineteenth century. Albeit some of his expectations aren’t shocking and unexpected – for instance, the climate change is a current problem, the act of predicting future situations and getting ready for them is valuable.
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