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TAKE CHARGE OF THE FUTURE

USING THE POWER OF SCENARIOS TO DRIVE STRATEGY AND PERFORMANCE

A useful, pragmatic approach that should ultimately lead to better strategic decision-making.

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In this business book, a consultant promotes a scenarios-to-strategy planning process.

With four decades of experience, Brummell is a credible expert when it comes to strategic planning. His focus in this executive-level volume is “scenario thinking,” which is intended “to create understanding of a broader range of possible future outcomes, and to enhance the ability to adapt.” In five terse parts the book covers the logic of scenarios; how to develop them; how they are utilized in strategy development; strategy implementation; and the author’s own application of the planning process. Part 1 lays the groundwork by detailing the attributes of scenarios, or “stories describing a range of different futures.” Brummell makes an important distinction between forecasting and scenarios. Forecasting, widely used by business managers, attempts to specifically predict the future, while a scenario focuses on uncertainties that suggest different potential outcomes. As Brummell writes, “Scenario thinking does not try to reduce uncertainty but to embrace it. As a result, scenarios are most appropriate during periods of turbulence and uncertainty.” In Part 2, the author outlines a five-step method for developing focused scenarios in a workshop environment, which he finds most conducive for the process. Enough detail is provided to comprehend, if not implement, scenario development. Along the way, Brummell offers helpful examples of types of scenarios. Part 3 concentrates on strategy development, demonstrating how scenarios can lead to strategies. Here, the author includes a useful road map to help readers visualize a five-step process. Three pertinent examples of strategy development are described in this part. Implementing strategy is the subject of Part 4, which includes an excellent discussion of the criteria for success. Part 5 examines the author’s personal experiences, from his introduction to scenario planning through trials and tribulations associated with the process. He cites several intriguing cases in which he was involved, including global scenario planning for the future of Africa, Latin America, and even the Soviet Union. The book concludes with Brummell’s insightful assessment of “three major themes” that emerged from scenario projects. Numerous charts, graphs, and sidebars enhance the main text.

A useful, pragmatic approach that should ultimately lead to better strategic decision-making.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2023

ISBN: 978-1039156029

Page Count: 248

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2023

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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