Reviews of Futures Oriented Books
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future

The following major headings indicate the brief summaries available. Each is linked to take you directly to that portion of the summaries, and they you can scroll up/down to see others on the listing. They are all in the order listed in in the major headings below. These references are intended to give you a quickly acquired overview of futures-related issues and techniques. While we will not discuss these in class, they should form the basis for your further exploration of topics of interest. These books are also listed in separate pages for each of the 6 groups below and presented as Seminar 1.

Popularized Visions or Images of the Future
Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives
Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990s
The Popcorn Report.
Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century.
Predicting the Future
Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse and Envisioning a Sustainable Future
Vital Signs 1999: Trends That Are Shaping the Future

Paradigm Shifts or Major Possible Discontinuities

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization.
Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.

Technology and the American Economic Transition: Choices for the Future
Dateline 2000: The New Higher Education Agenda
The New Realities
Forecasting, Planning, and Strategy for the 21st Century
The Art of the Long View: Planning for the future in an uncertain world
The Cycles of American History
The Decade Matrix,
For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future.
Sustainable America: America’s Environment, Economy and Society in the 21st Century.

Society and Organization Relative to the Future

Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-biological Civilization
The Fifth Discipline: The art & Practice of the Learning Organization.
Upsizing the Individual in the Downsized Organization
The Team Net Factor: Bringing the Power of the Boundary Crossing Into the Heart of Your Business.
Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time, and Organizations with Technology
Being Digital
Intuition at Work: Pathways to Unlimited Possibilities.
Rethinking America
The New Management: Democracy and Enterprise are Transforming Organizations
The Second Curve: Managing the Velocity of Change
Future Tense: The Business Realities for the Next Ten Years.

Some Older Observations Revisited

The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society
How to Lie With Statistics
Limits to Growth
Models of Doom: A Critique of the Limits to Growth0
The Unprepared Society: Planning for a Precarious Future.
Avoiding 1984: Moving Toward Independence
The Change Resisters: How they prevent progress and what managers can do about them

Specific "Forecasts" About the Future

What Lies Ahead: Countdown to the 21st Century.
The Next Three Futures: Paradigms of Things to Come
Visions of Desirable Societies.

2020 Visions: Long View of a Changing World.
America Beyond 2001: Opposing Viewpoints
Inside College: Undergraduate Education for the Future
Education for the Twenty-First Century
The 500 Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next.
2025: Scenarios of US and Global Society Reshaped by Science and Technology
A View from the Year 3000: A Ranking of the 100 Most Influential Persons of All Time
Which World? Scenarios fort the 21st Century: Global Destinies, Regional Choices


This Business of Issues: Coping with the Company's Environments
Issues Management: How You Can Plan, Organize and Manage For the Future
State Government Foresight in the U.S.
The Foresight Principle: Cultural Recovery in the 21st Century

Approaches Learned from the Experiences of Others

How to Tell Good Work from Bad
Comments by Don Michael
Perspectives of Roy Amara
What I Have Learned: Thinking About the Future Then and Now
What Futurists Believe.

Popularized Visions or Images of the Future

The futures literature that can be grouped into several sections. Some are very academic and narrowly focused, some are scholarly but cover a range of materials, some are simple collections of facts, and some are more popularized collections. The material below represents the popularized category.

Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives. 1982. John Naisbitt. Warner Books.

Identifies 10 major trends shaping the future. These trends are developed from the "ground up" by reading multiple sources of newspapers and other "close to the people" publications. The trends are: industrial society moving to an information society, forced technology moving to high technology, national economy moving to world economy, short term moving to long term, centralization moving to decentralization, institutional help moving to self help, representative democracy moving to participatory democracy, hierarchies moving to networking, power base of north part of U.S moving to southern U.S., and either/or options moving to multiple options.

Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990s. 1990. John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene. William Morrow and Company.

This is a new version of the original Megatrends (1982) book. The new trends are: global economic boom of the 1990s, renaissance in the arts, emergence of free-market socialism, global lifestyles and cultural nationalism, privatization of the welfare state, rise of the pacific rim, the 1990s as a decade of women in leadership, the age of biology, religious revival of the third millennium, and triumph of the individual.

The Popcorn Report. Faith Popcorn. 1991. 226 p.

The book is divided into three sections: understanding the future, paths to the future, and getting on-trend, capitalizing on the trends, the new marketing frontier, and future signals. She identifies 10 trends (cocooning in a new decade, fantasy adventure, small indulgences, egonomics, cashing out, down aging, staying alive, the vigilante consumer, 99 lives, and saving our society. Some of the methods they use to identify trends include reading about: food (new products/trendy restaurants, best selling books), new products (successful or not), transformations in family structure, shifts in the workplace, the environment (are people motivated to change?), the economy (is the fear level high?), the overall cultural mood (anxious or hopeful?).

Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century. 1990. Alvin Toffler. Bantam Books.

Toffler published Future Shock in 1970; this proved to be a very popular book and started him on a series of other books relating to the future. These others are The Third Wave and Powershift. Powershift focuses on the where the "power" will be located, what it will be, and how it will affect others. The book is full of Toffler generated jargon and consists of a series of choppy sections that make interesting reading but are hard to summarize here briefly.

Predicting the Future. 1993. Leo Howe and Alan Wain (ed). Cambridge University Press. 195 p.

The book is a series of essays by experts in the field covering the future of the universe, chaos, comets and the world's end, economy, medical frontier, divine providence, Buddhist predictions, and the last judgement. The authors not the processes for predicting the future are not always the same, and one needs to look at different societies and at different times.

Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse and Envisioning a Sustainable Future. 1991. Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers.

This book is self-identified as a sequel to The Limits to Growth (published by the same authors in 1972). The first book used five variables to model the world from 1900 to 2100: resources, population, pollution, food, and industrial output. This book (20 years later) uses the same variables, updates the data, and uses a computer program (Stella) that runs on a Macintosh microcomputer rather than a mainframe computer. They also add new perspectives (e.g., global warming, ozone depletion), and focus on sustainability. A number of models are presented, using different assumptions. Comparisons are made between the results represented by two books.

Vital Signs 1999: Trends That Are Shaping the Future. Lester Brown, et al. 1999 (published annually).

Key indicators are described and summarized as: food, agricultural resources, energy, atmospheric, economic, social, and military. They focus on environment, economy, and social to describe the results of the trends found by following the indicators. They conclude we are entering an new era that primarily involves food, energy, and social changes. Both positive and negative trends and outcomes are reviewed.

Paradigm Shifts or Major Possible Discontinuities

The "big" changes are the important ones in foresight. Trends that continue in approximately the same direction can be more easily understood and the information found in multiple sources. The perturbations of existing trends, or major new paradigms that develop generally have their roots in earlier events. Trying to find the "early warnings" of these new directions is of great use in developing foresight.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. 1999. Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY. 394 p.

In this book the "olive tree" represents the the old world/way and the Lexus represents the new world/way - with both of them taking place at the same time and in the same places. The book is focused on what is driving globalization and what effects might occur. Traditional assumptions or information sources may not be as useful as new approaches to looking at the question. As a way of presenting, Friedman "look at the world through a multidimens9ional, multilens perspective, and at the same time, convey that complexity to readers through simple stories, not grand theories". He refers to this as a form of "information arbitrage" (see page 15 for more explanation of his use of the term). Friedman does a good job of addressing the  "paradigm shift" to globalization in ways that indeed convey the complexity and importance but in ways we an all understand. He addresses the impact acceptance and backlash against this type of change and the role of America.

Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. 1990. Ernest L. Boyer. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

A history of scholarship over time with sections on faculty, campus and community changing times. A report on internal changes in the academy, with another book coming on role of scholarship and the changing social context and emerging debate about "ways of knowing". The Boyer book concludes that scholarship must be defined differently in the future, and not just focus on working at the frontier of knowledge. He observes four main areas of scholarship: exploration of the frontiers of knowledge, integration of ideas and works, translation of thoughts into actions, and inspiration of students.

Technology and the American Economic Transition: Choices for the Future. 1988

Addresses the potential impacts of new technology on the economy over the next two decades. The approach is new and breaks out 10 components of the economy: food, housing, health, transportation, clothing and personal care, education, personal business and communication, recreation and leisure, defense, and government activities not elsewhere classified. Within each of these components, it is analyzed by construction, social services, transactions, transporting trade, manufacturing, and natural resources. The rules under which the economy operates are being reshaped by four major forces:

Dateline 2000: The New Higher Education Agenda. 1990. Dale Parnell. The Community College Press. 303 p.

Discusses a wide range of issues facing higher education, including opportunities and challenges for the 1990s, missing linkages of general economy to higher education, global issues (geography and culture), changing student base, and misconceptions about real costs of higher education. Each chapter has a series of forecasts and executive summary; the one for opportunities describes seven internal issues: understand and act on relatedness of issues, build a sense of community within and outside the college, recruit and retain more ethnic minority students and faculty, increase institutional flexibility, develop funding stability, solve the faculty shortage problem, improve governance and leadership effectiveness. Some of his forecasts mirror those of others and some are quite different.

The New Realities. Peter Drucker. 1989. Harper and Row. 276 p.

Some of the issues/new realities:

Forecasting, Planning, and Strategy for the 21st Century. 1990. Spyros Makridakis. 293p.

Management theories rise and fall, our judgement has biases and limitations, myth and reality about predicting the future, identifying megapatterns (trends vs cycles), the emerging future, business firms and managers in the 21st century, competitive and non-competitive strategies, creativity, avoiding or delaying failure, achieving and sustaining success, and toward a new management. Suggests the future organization will include highly automated methods to produce what the customer wants, and depend on creativity and ability to implement an effective strategy; this will separate the leading companies from others.

The Art of the Long View: Planning for the future in an uncertain world. 1991. Peter Schwartz. 258 p.

Major focus is on scenario building, including how to gather the information and begin the early creation process (use both conventional and unconventional sources). A guide would include reviewing driving forces as developed by an interdisciplinary team, look for ambiguity and uncertainty, and developing a plot for the scenario. He ends with three scenarios for 2005, assuming the following driving forces: shuffling political alignments, technology explosion, global pragmatism, demographic changes, energy, environment, and global information economy. I: New Empires (changes in the leadership nations). II: Market World (allowing things to work themselves out by the market system). III: Change without Progress (chaos and crisis). This book is also online at the Global Business Network (

The Cycles of American History, Arthur Schlesinger, Houghton Mifflin, 1986, 448 p.

Schlesinger discusses a 30-year cycle, with alternations between public purpose and private interest (this was first proposed by his father in 1949). If the 30-year cycle holds, at some point around 1990 there should be a sharp change in the national mood and direction. The 1990s would be a generational succession for the people that came of age in the Kennedy years and the Reagan age will fade into historical memory. Schlesinger (the elder) found 11 alternations, with 6 increasing democracy and in 5 to contain it. Schlesinger (the younger) believe the years of Reagan (the 1980s) were like the 1950s, 1920s, and 1890s. Thus, the 1990s may be more like the 1960s than the 1980s relative to public attitude and politically important perspectives. Schlesinger doubts parties can retain a "majority" in an electronic age, and therefore the "40-year cycle" of political parties may have less relevance in the future.

The Decade Matrix, James O. Gollub, Addison-Wesley, 1991, 353 p.

Gollub breaks the decades of your life into sections which include: Immersion (birth to 12), Diversion (13-18), Expansion (19-24), Conversion (25-34), Reversion (45-54), Revision (55-64), Transition (65-74), Emergence (75-840, and Transcendence (85 and over). He addresses each group by the decade in which they were born: Children of the Century (1900-1909), Dream Deferred Generation (1910-1919), Children of American Dream (1920-1929), Bridge Generation (1930-1939), Gap Generation (1940-1949), Baby Boomers (1950-1959), Technokids (1960-1969). He weaves the different perspectives of each group on how they interact/view the economy, technological changes, social and political environment. He notes that each group has a distribution of people that are hanger's on, leaders, and the core. He ends by giving his impressions of what we have ahead for the country and world given who the people are that will be living in it.

For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr., Beacon Press, Boston. 1989, 482p.

Identifies a series of "misplaced concreteness" areas (market, measuring economic success, homo economicus, and land), noting that we must look at things differently than we are accustomed to doing. The authors (one economist and one theologian) focus on the United States and particularly in areas of free trade vs community, population, land use, agriculture, industry, labor, income policies and taxes, and from world domination to national security. The several steps they conclude need to be considered include: changing the university (new disciplines and approaches), building communities and bottom-up efforts, changing trade policies (delinking trade policies with other policies), establishing an optimum scale (growth vs carrying capacity and the economy), measuring economic progress (quality of life indices).

Sustainable America: America’s Environment, Economy and Society in the 21st Century. 1998. Daniel Sitarz (ed). Earth Press, 312 p.

In 1992 the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was held, and the report was called Agenda 21. In 1993 President Clinton created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. This book builds heavily on the Council’s reports. Topics include consumption, production, population, natural resources, agriculture, environmental management, energy and transportation, education, communities, and leadership. Each chapter is filled with action items following discussion, with some of the policy recommendations coming from the President’s Council and others developed by the other. The discussions are good and raise important issues, but many of the action item are a bit narrowly based and read "must or should" and therefore gives the book more of a dogmatic focus rather than a neutral discussion of the topics. However, it does discuss "sustainability" in terms that go beyond the typical "environment" focus and provides a number of useful examples.

Society and Organization Relative to the Future

Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-biological Civilization. Kevin Kelly, Addison Wesley, New York, 1994, 521p.

The focus is on biological systems and what we might learn from them about how society and its components function (living and non-living). The "neo-biological" comes from how the new world uses the biological system as a model. The old world of top down control is fading, and the spontaneous, unsupervised, and uncontrolled birth of the internet is an example of the new. "Control is out, out of control is in". Kelly defines the Nine Laws of God as: 1) distribute being, 2) control from the bottom up, 3) cultivate increasing returns, 4) grow by chunking, 5) maximize the fringes, 6) honor your errors, 7) pursue no optima; have multiple goals, 8) seek persistent disequilibrium, and 9) change changes itself.

The Fifth Discipline: The art & Practice of the Learning Organization. Peter Senge. Doubleday, New York. 1990 (1994 paperback), 423p.

This book addresses how organizations might change in the future. The overall approach the "learning organization" is: 1) systems thinking, 2) personal mastery, 3) mental models, 4) building shared vision, and 5) team learning. These 5 areas integrate and become the "fifth discipline". Laws of the fifth discipline include: 1) today's problems come from yesterday's "solutions", 2) the harder you push, the harder the system pushes back, 3) behavior grows better before it grows worse, 4) the easy way out usually leads back in, 5) the cure can be worse than the disease, 5) faster is slower, 7) cause and effect are not closely related in time and space, 8) small changes can produce big results - but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious, 9) you can have your cake and eat it too - but not at once, 10) dividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants, and 11) there is no blame.

Upsizing the Individual in the Downsized Organization. 1994. Robert Johansen and Rob Swigart, Addison-Wesley, Massachusetts. 195 p.

With the widespread emphasis on reducing the size of organizations and restructuring major activities, not much has been written about the impact on the individual. The initial section summarizes current organizations: "Fewer managers managing more people with more diversity and more geographic separation but less loyalty to the organization". The authors then assess the situation: "Why this emerging organizational structure won't work in the future. They then focus on what could be: "Creating opportunities for yourself and your organization, now and in the future". One of their terms is the "fishnet" organization, where major portions of the hierarchy exist but there is a lot of "loose" movement for the rest of the organization. For example, poles holding a fishnet allow the net to move and fit the current needs but the net is still "anchored" to something. Several organizations use this approach to advantage. Other factors for the future organization include building communities with continuities to work and individuals, and the role of electronic/information capabilities.

The Team Net Factor: Bringing the Power of the Boundary Crossing Into the Heart of Your Business. 1993. Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps, Oliver Wright Publications, Vermont. 414p.

There are many recent books on "teams", most from the business perspective. This book is from a couple that has been involved in "networking" for many years, and they approach the team topic differently. They stress the "boundary crossing" (taking advantage of differences). They define "teamnet" as a group of people and groups that cross conventional boundaries for mutual benefit while retaining individual independence. Their five principles are: unifying purpose, independent members, voluntary links, multiple leaders, and interactive levels. The good ways to fail are: a purpose with no glue and subject to groupthink, members that are not independent and are stubborn, links that are really not links to overload, leadership that either has no leaders or no followers, and no uplinks or downlinks. They also provide checklists and operational suggestions. This is an especially valuable book to read in context with other team building books relative to continuous improvement (total quality management) or strategic planning efforts.

Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time, and Organizations with Technology. Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps. John Wiley & Sons. 1997. 262 pages.

They review teams and the special role of "virtual" (anytime, anyplace, anyone) and the changes that will allow. They review case histories of several companies that operate as virtual teams (for example, Eastman Kodak has 800-900 interlocking the company, including customers suppliers). By having virtual teams with the appropriate members, and well-designed communication among them, you can have transformations "at the speed of light". They provide considerable detail on how to operate virtual teams (it is not necessarily intuitive, and some conventional wisdom is not good advice). Their basic advice is get a clear goal, have the teams small (4-5 for the lowest level) and interlocking relationships with other teams (teams might form groups of teams). For more detailed information look at their web site --

Being Digital. Nicholas, Negroponte. Alfred Knopf. 1995. 255.

A paperback updated from of a series of brief articles for Wired Magazine. The theme is how the movement from analog (current television and telephone) to digital (computers and many other things) will have a massive impact on society. He weaves some history of the relevant technologies into how things could be very different in the future. Digital is pervasive – it will affect nearly everything. He ends by noting the time for optimism is here—many previously competing groups/organizations will find it to their advantage to cooperate (and the technology is here to do that). He believes the real optimism is due to the empowering nature of being digital, we can make incredible changes in the future that would have been unheard of in the past.

Intuition at Work: Pathways to Unlimited Possibilities. Roger Frantz and Alex Pattakos (editors). 1996. New Leaders Press. 316 pages.

A book of 25 authors/coauthors presenting 22 chapters on practical uses and understanding of intuition. Intuition may have many names: gut feeling, instinct, insight, hunch, "guessing accurately", and common sense. Two quotations set the stage: The really valuable thing is intuition (Albert Einstein), The intuitive mind will tell the thinking where to look next (Jonas Salk). In the forward, Willis Harmon (an early futurist) lists four implications of "intuition" becoming more mainstream: 1) It brings a new approach to decision making, 2) It has implications with regard to values, 3) It amounts to a reassessment of the role of business, and 4) It amounts to a reassessment of the basic metaphysical assumptions that underlie modern industrial society. While the various authors come from a range of disciplines and different perspectives and approaches, the general theme throughout the book is that one has to spend a little time learning how to use intuition, and to do this you need to clear your mind of some "clutter" (cultural or historic experiences) -- look at new ways of approaching things or doing things

Rethinking America. 1995. Hedrick Smith. Random House, New York. 474 p.

A subtitle reads: "A New Game Plan from the American Innovators: Schools, Business, People, Work." The overall context is: we are caught in a mind-set of past successes, we need to rethink our schools for the new global game, business mindsets change to we-we from us verses them, and government and business becoming collaborators. Much of the book is a comparison of America in the context of other countries when addressing the above topics. He concludes with "the question is now whether other Americans are ready to rethink old ways, to learn from the Innovators, and then to apply and adapt their lessons in order to move America to higher performance and a higher quality of life in the coming generation".

The New Management: Democracy and Enterprise are Transforming Organizations. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 1996. William Halal. 284 p.

Management techniques and approaches adjust to changing times. Halal addresses these changes with a backdrop of a major transition to a knowledge-based and global economy. After reviewing management approaches over the years, he provides a series of ideas and includes case histories based on interviews with over 400 managers, to show the "new management" is not just theory but is being practiced in varied locations. He also cautions about being caught up in "revolutionary zeal" that often accompanies new approaches and confronts existing managers with new buzz words and arrogant behavior patterns. Halal believe much of "old management" can be continued but combined with new forms to the changing times. His new management paradigm would include shifts to "1) internal markets - small enterprises cooperating within a large enterprise, 2) corporate community - coalition of all stockholder rights and responsibilities, and 3) organic organization - creative tension between internal markets and corporate community."

The Second Curve: Managing the Velocity of Change. Ballantine Books. Ian Morrison. 1996. 272 p.

Morrison is the former President of the Institute for the Future and addressees the various components of world changing as two curves. The first curve is what has been traditional, with a few powerful countries dominating, capital and money having major importance, and hardwork and current career and basic security as a setting. The second curve has different countries dominate, knowledge and communication along with people replacing capital and money as the important variables, and more organizational culture, uncertainty, future career orientation for individuals. Some of the lessons learned about the transition are: "1) don't mistake the second curve for an orderly new world, 2) how and when these shifts occur are extremely uncertain, 3) people tend to overestimate the impact of change in the short run and to underestimate in the long run, and 4) ground the future in information about the present." He identifies four common pitfalls in the road to success unless you are alert to them: 1) scale (honor small numbers), 2) incentives (need incentives for both curves during transition), 3) organization (don't let the reengineers get at the second curve), and 4) people (who is building the second curve in your organization - encourage them).

Future Tense: The Business Realities for the Next Ten Years. 1994.  Ian Morrison and Greg Schmid. William Morrow. 304 p.

The authors are from the Institute of the Future, a firm that publishes reports each year that focus on the next 10 years. The book reviews the key driving forces (including the changing worker, social insecurity, global markets, domestic competition, failing institutions, quest for authority, and information technologies, They then discuss a transitional solutions (including reorganizing the way we do business, understanding the purpose of the organization, understanding the true meaning of globalization). They then offer some critical forecasts (aging babyboomers, very well educated population, world middle class, customer choice rises, technologies enable change). They end by discussing new ways of business leadership (foresight, vision, resolving tensions).

Some Older Observations Revisited

The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society, Peter Drucker, Harper & Row, 1969/1978, 402 pages.

The original book was published in 1969, and an updated preface was added in the 1978 edition, noting the earlier comments were basically still relevant. The main theme is that the continuity of the old trends or issues for social and cultural changes were ending. The book does not "forecast", but looks at the major changes occurring in the foundations that will affect changes. He identifies 4 discontinuities.

He further states that the dynamics of population changes are different in three major sections of the world (developed countries of industrialized world, developed countries of the Soviet Bloc, and the developing countries of the third world. The "age of discontinuity" is not a pessimistic situation, it provides ample opportunities for new actions, so it really is an "age of opportunity".

How to Lie With Statistics. 1954. Darel Huff. W.W. Norton. 142p.

This book has had many printings and the information is still applicable. It is written in a popularized style and uses examples to clarify the points. Included are problems with samples with build in biases, use of the term "average", making a big deal of data that does not warrant it, and misuse of graphs and figures.

Limits to Growth. 1971. Donella H. Meadows, et al. Universe Books. 205p.

A computer model of the world from 1900 to 2100 using five variables: resources, food per capita, industrial output per capita, pollution, and population. A variety of "computer runs" allow examples ranging from disaster to smooth transition to a sustainable world. Discussion is centered around each of the variables as a "limit" to continued growth. The book is one of the earliest large scale models, and coming at the beginning of the modern environmental movement caused a great deal of positive and negative comments. This book was sponsored by the (then new) Club of Rome and is one of a series of the "Project on the Predicament of Mankind". It was primarily by a group of systems-thinking people, mostly at MIT, USA. (See updated book titled "Beyond the Limits").

Models of Doom: A Critique of the Limits to Growth. 1973. H.S.D. Cole et al. Universe Books. 244.

A detailed critique of the "Limits to Growth" addressing assumptions, methodologies, and results. The authors believe the "Limits to Growth" approach is negative in outlook and simply "computerizes" inappropriate theories. Primarily by economists at the University of Sussex, UK. A brief response by the authors of the "Limits to Growth" is included, focusing on five major areas of disagreement: short term vs long term models, using results of a single model vs large scale considerations, stability vs dynamic characteristics of specific variables, use of "perfect" models vs "imperfect" models for policy making, and role of mankind relative to the earth.

The Unprepared Society: Planning for a Precarious Future. Donald Michael. Harper Colophon. New York, 1968. 132.

This is an early book by a well know social psychologist about futures, long range planning, resistance to organizational change, and new ways at looking at society. He concludes that the convergence of social and technological trends will lead to more extensive use of long range planning and that we are unprepared to do that (over the next 20 or so years). This is an early "futures" oriented book.

Avoiding 1984: Moving Toward Independence. Robert Theobald. Swallow Press, Ohio State University, 1982, 114p.

The 1984 here is in reference to the George Orwell book "1984", published in 1948 (the last two digits were transposed to come up with 1984). That book identified a world of scarcity, cruelty, and constant warfare. Theobald believes we can avoid that picture of the future, but we must be proactive to do it and make significant changes. He identifies four scenarios for 2000 (status quo, high technology/high growth, low technology/low growth, and management transformational), discusses driving forces and social issues, and ends with how one ought to be acting in today's world (creating a desirable educational system, managing complex systems, problem/possibility focusers, and becoming involved. Theobald has been involved in Arizona futures (he lived here at one time) and believes in the need for major transformation of society.

The Change Resisters: How they prevent progress and what managers can do about them. 1981. George Odiorne. 275 p.

Sections address: how to recognize and deal with an anti-planning attitude, how to avoid activity traps (you think you are working but you are not producing), destroying plans by false analogies, how to kill ideas by false obstacles and arguments, distorting facts and false generalizations, using crises to avoid change, dealing the bureaucracy, how to band together to resist change, and managing change in the world of change resisters. The last section, how to manage change, includes: living strategically, getting a broad picture of the world, evaluating assumptions, and manage by anticipation rather than reaction.

Specific "Forecasts" About the Future

What Lies Ahead: Countdown to the 21st Century. United Way of America. Strategic Institute, Alexandria, VA. This is revised each two years and used for the United Way of America offices to plan their future choices. It identifies major trends and issues via a large scale environmental scanning committee. Major trends are:

The Next Three Futures: Paradigms of Things to Come. 1991 (revised in 1999). W. Warren Wagar. Praeger. 195 p.

The author is a Professor of History and teaches futures courses. He begins with the state of the art, past futures, and paradigm shifts. His alternative futures include: Earth, Wealth and Power, War and Peace, and Living. He concludes by identifying " the next three futures". He assumes the future we are building today is one of "globalized liberal democratic capitalism, and that by the first or second decade of the 21st century almost everyone will be travelling that road. He believes the technoliberal capitalism future is declining. His third future is located in the latter half of the 21st century, one beyond liberal capitalism and democratic socialism. In this future the counter-culturalist values have triumphed.

Visions of Desirable Societies. 1983. Eleonara Masini. 272 p.

This book was developed for the World Futures Studies Federation, and is a series of 14 essays about future visions from various perspectives. Examples include a tranformational society, humanist/socialist, humanistic, alternative social visions, frugality society, new technologies and old choices, types of civilizations, and a towards a third world utopia. One section deals with the requirements for a desirable society. These are: it must be real and not some idealized utopia, main point of reference is the human species, any implementation will vary in different cultures and societies, main issues are freedom (maximum available) and equality.

2020 Visions: Long View of a Changing World. 1990. Stanford Alumni Association. 252 p.

Included are chapters on how the world has changed, the emerging world order, the changing American, the environment (a question of priorities), education, and 2020 visions. The visions include: 1) Argentina - here we come (using Argentina rather than the European culture as a model), 2) Manifest Destiny Revisited (American territorial expansion followed by export of American political, social, and economic influences), 3) A North American Common Market (free trade, open investment, uniform currency, free movement of people, uniform commercial laws, coordinated foreign policy, and full political integration, and 4) the Handwriting on the Wall (megastate - multicultural).

America Beyond 2001: Opposing Viewpoints. 1996. Markely, Oliver and Bruno Leone, Editors. Greenhaven Press. 312 p.

Includes a range of differing viewpoints covering five major topics: 1) the social fabric of America: what is its future, 2) technological change: how fast and to what end?, 3) what will become of America’s economy?, 4) the ecological environment: sustainable or not?, and 5) America’s political status: what does the future hold? General format is to have two authors take opposite views on a topic and present each section separately. Representative topics include: Is/is not America becoming a third world country, from cold war to cold peace/American renaissance, a vision of revitalized/recycling education, technology can secure/damage America’s future, entitlement programs are/are not sustainable, the future looks dim/bright for alternative fuels.

Inside College: Undergraduate Education for the Future. 1993. Ronald D. Simpson and Susan H. Frost. Insight Books, 275p.

Written by two experienced educators, the book is divided into three parts: 1) international and national parameters that define higher education, 2) students and their learning experiences, and 3) access and opportunity. They include discussions of the teaching-research role of faculty, the need for students to be more in charge of their own learning opportunities, and how the curriculum must change in response to the world itself changing. Some of these changes include the global nature of almost every discipline, the vast amount of information now available to students, a recognition that the "classroom" is only one of the many places to learn, and teachers take on the role of facilitators to learning rather than simply disseminating knowledge in a classroom. Finally, they note that academic communities must redefine their relationships to one another the to the larger world: "faculty members and administrators should rethink the purpose of the academy and the place of higher education in society."

Education for the Twenty-First Century. 1993. Hedley Beare and Richard Slaughter. Routledge Press. 180p.

The authors are in the University of Melbourne’s Institute of Education and Slaughter is one of the world’s leading futurists (and a few techniques are included in the book). They give a general framework of changes that might occur (e.g., increasing population, global climatic change, terrorism, biological knowledge) but also note that new forms of learning could take place (e.g., electronic implants, expert systems, inter-species communication). The key theme of the book is the all important need to shift from the past to the future for considering a number of things, and especially education. Once you look to the "future" needs of education, a number of things can fall into place. If we keep looking at retaining the past structures and approaches, we will miss the changes. If we look to the future, whole new approaches and ideas are possible to address the know needs as well as the uncertainties.

The 500 Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next. 1997. Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker. Harper Business. 302 p.

The introduction begins "This is a book about the near-term and long-term future of business and how business leaders must reposition themselves and rethink the arenas in which they compete. It is a book about history and the direction for the future, about the qualities and frames of mind that will sustain us ant hose we must jettison if we hope to cope with what lies ahead. It is a book about taking the blinders off, about seeing things whole and clear. But most of all, this is a book about change, change so rapid and so massive that by century’s end it will have swept away nearly the entire underpinnings of modern life." That is a pretty good review of the book!. They address how known entities will be faced with change (the organization, the economic rationale of today) and how they are being replaces with new rules (values and connectivity, principles as directions, communications and information sharing, and lifestyles). They provide a "rule book" for the new chaotic world (e.g., wisdom of planning, preparing, managing, setting at the top, and focus).

2025: Scenarios of US and Global Society Reshaped by Science and Technology. 1996. Joseph Coates, John Mahaffie, and Andy Hines. Oakhill Press, NY. 508 p.

A set of 15 scenarios of the world (structured to cover developed/developing) in 2025. Considerations include economy, environment, space (outer), sustainability, leisure, work, genetics, and information technology.  The underlying assumption is that science and technology are the primary drivers of change, and these are used to shape the future. The primary technologies are: information technology, materials technology, genetics, and energy technology. The autors include "environmentalism" as a driver of change too, but it is not a technology in itself.  Included are 107 assumptions about the future, ranging from general to very specific. The overall structure  is a bit mixed, and includes a range of formats - historical facts (in the past), historical facts as seen from the perspective of 2025 (therefore speculation), hopes and fears, examples of World 1 (affluent nations), World 2 (middle group - bulk of world's population), and Wrold 3 (destitute nations). 

A View from the Year 3000: A Ranking of the 100 Most Influential Persons of All Time. 1999. Michael Hart. Poseidon Press, Maryland. 430 p.

A mixture of real (45) and fictitious (55) people, written from the perspective of the year 3000, by a "descendent" of the "author".  Historical names include Gutenberg, Einstein, Pasteur, Darwin, Columbus, Write Brothers, and a series of old world philosophers or religions leaders. The 100 people are listed by country of origin, the years they lived (most are after the year 2000) and 2-3 pages describing the person and their activities. This is a very different book and is formatted to raise new and stimulating questions. 

Which World? Scenarios fort the 21st Century: Global Destinies, Regional Choices. Allen Hammond. 1998. World Resources Institute. 306 p.

Focuses on three world views (Market World: A new Golden Age of Prosperity?, Fortresss Wrodl: Instability and Violence:, and Transformed Wrold: Changing the Human Endeavor). By using scenarios consisting of existing trends and potential results from those trends, Hammond pulls together the series of options that require some thought before making simplistic assumptions about which scenario you think is more probable or more desired.

Reviews trends (demographic, economic, and technological), focuses on particular regions (Latin America, China and Southeast Asia, India, Afracia, Russia and Eastern Europe, and North America and Europe). Concludes with "choosing our future" by way of presenting several scenarios.

Hammond has long experience in the futures field and is a good integrator. He tries to put all the pieces together to be seen as a whole.


This Business of Issues: Coping with the Company's Environments. James Brown, Conference Board (Research Report), 1983, 74 pages.

Developed by a business organization with considerable input via discussion meetings on the topic. Covers many aspects, including: various interests and their roles, timing and duration of reports, getting trends on the table and selecting the most important, contacting outsiders and having internal discussions, relationship to corporate planning, getting started and who serves on the team, and payoffs.

Getting started includes: list 100 or more issues, seek other's perspectives on the issues, categorize the issues, start a central issues file and publicize it, determine which issues are relevant to the organization, investigate the most important in detail, circulate conclusions for others to read, learn what other organizations are doing about the issues, list plans of action in dealing with the issues, talk about the issues in a variety of meetings/appearances.

Written reports can be via periodic newsletters, position papers, and issue books or formal studies. Some companies use internal staff coordinators with broad company-wide representation and others contract with outside groups to provide this service. Those activities within the company should be viewed as an extension of normal activities - with a future emphasis.

Issues Management: How You Can Plan, Organize and Manage For the Future, Joseph Coates, Vary Coates, Jennifer Jarratt, Lisa Heinz, Lomond Publishers, 1986, 142 pages.

The book is based on a research report prepared by J.F. Coates, Inc, for the Electric Power Research Institute, and therefore focuses to some extent on issues of concern to business. The book is a very good reference book for several reasons: 1) the authors have a great deal of experience in technology assessment and issues management, 2) they provide detailed explanations on concepts, processes and techniques of issues management, 3) they provide a model for establishing an issues management system, and 4) the provide a research agenda identifying areas that could use more study.

A prototypical issues management system would 1) diagnose the situation relative to the organization, 2) begin small and select participants widely within the organization, 3) gradually expand as the activities are accepted. To make it all work, they suggest: be positive, be helpful, be informed, be a team player, be interdisciplinary, be sensitive to the culture (or the organization), be active in outreach (do stop at the formal report), be selective (don't include everything), and be smart. The book includes a series of topics for possible discussion at workshops on the issues management subject.

State Government Foresight in the U.S. Lauren Cook. Futures Research Quarterly, Winder 1990. p29-40.

Ten Prerequisites for Effective Foresight in Government. Many of these may not be achieved, some are only important after a process is moving.

1. Leadership commitment (a belief that responsible governance includes responsibility to the future; a willingness to provide leadership to instill this belief in others; a commitment to effect change as a result of foresight activity if called for).

2. Consensus among those involved on the broad policy context - that is, the historical trends, current issues, and their relative importance, that are part of the existing policy environment.

3. A clear idea on how, in specific terms, the information that results from the foresight activity will be used to make better policy decisions.

4. Consensus and realism on the part of participants about the goals, objectives, resources and outcomes of the foresight efforts.

5. Recognition that each foresight application (in different branches or different places in the policy cycle, or with different configurations of players) will require different designs for implementation.

6. Continuity: the foresight activity should engender the capacity to renew and adapt the forecasts analyses, goals, and visions that result from initial efforts.

7. Open doors: with few exceptions, the foresight process should provide opportunities for input from people external to the office or organization initiation the process.

8. Politically sensitive but shielded from political manipulation.

9. Consensus on the analytical timeframe(s).

10. Management (internal) and political (external) accountability for short- and long-term outcomes.

Institutionalizing a Foresight Process

Data need to be collected and presented to form an institutional foresight process. New activities need to be justified, particularly on subjects such as foresight, where the immediate value is not always clear to those controlling resources.

Organizations have many people doing, in their minds, adequate planning for the future, and thus feel threatened when some new process like this is instituted. So, care must be taken to deal with other people in the organization, and involve them in the information collection role.

Having outside experts/consultants is good to gain third party endorsement of your ideas, but don't have the expert serve as a dictator rather than as a facilitator.

Once information is collected, people are informed of the process via participation in it, the results will need to be presented. These presentations should take the multiple forms which already exist in the organization, and be used as further educational tools about the futures process you are undertaking.

The Foresight Principle: Cultural Recovery in the 21st Century. Praeger. 1994. Richard Slaughter. 232p.

Foresight depends on establishing the context (past, present, future) and understanding the elements of looking ahead. He defines foresight as "the ability to weigh up pros and con, to evaluate different courses of action and to invest possible futures on every level with enough reality and meaning to use them as decision-making aids." Slaughter identifies six strategies to respond to difficult times for young people (applicable to the non-young as well): "1) develop an understanding of the effects of young people's media, 2) change fears into motivations, 2) explore social innovations, 4) see the future as part of the present, 5) use futures concepts, tools and ideas, and 6) design your way out of the industrial era. Concludes with an extensive annotated bibliography or relevant references covering a range of disciplines and viewpoints.

Approaches Learned from the Experiences of Others

How to Tell Good Work from Bad. (Excerpted from The Futurist. April, p 63-71. Several criteria could be applied to test good works:

Comments by Don Michael, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Michigan (1985). Published in Futures, April 1985. pg 94-103. With Both Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air.

Perspectives of Roy Amara on the 10 year history of Institution for the Future. Published in Futures, August 1988, p 385-401. He identifies 10 do's and don'ts of forecasting and planning.

What I Have Learned: Thinking About the Future Then and Now, Michael Marien (editor), Greenwood Press, 1987, 204 pages.

A collection of essays by 17 leading futurists on the 1960s and 1970s, assessing how their thinking has changed in the 1980s and identifying important lessons.

Futurists include: Warren Agar, Kenneth Boulding, Willis Harman, Victor Ferkiss, Irene Thomson, Robert Francoeur, Don Michael, Jim Dator, Amitai Etzioni, Walter Hahn, Joseph Coates, Vary Coates, Joseph Martino, Harold Linstone, Betram Gross, Kusum Singh, and Hazel Henderson. Lessons learn include: futures studies depend on present-day structures of belief, watch out for traps (war, population, entropy, one-world, political incompetence, and fundamentalist), predicting the future is harder than many believed and prescribing desirable futures is even harder, technological change underestimated and social change overestimated, there are many possible reconstructions of the past and models of the future, how you label an activity is important, exploring assumptions is a key to studying the future, the ability to allow uncertainties is important, we are still learning how to ask questions, seemingly trite sayings should not be discarded, multidisciplinary perspectives are essential, learning by learning together is rewarding. Three major themes emerge:

What Futurists Believe. 1989. Lamond Publications. Joseph Coates and Jennifer Jarratt. 340p.

A book of interviews with 17 futurists plus the author's own viewpoints. The futures are identified in a number of categories, covering specific vs broad, corporate vs non-corporate, socio-political vs technological, global vs U.S., optimism vs pessimism, and now vs 100+ years. Each futurist explains which others had influenced them, and describes their perspective on the future. Areas of general agreement are: technology is a primary driver of change; all activities are becoming more complex and interdependent; interdependence of the global community is increasing; decline of the world-wide economic role of the U.S.; problems of population growth rate and differential age distributions among countries. Areas of general disagreement are: specific societal values and attitudes and how they change, various images of the future and which are most desirable or likely; economic futures and emerging events to alter the economy; world structural changes including eastern Europe. The 17 futurists are: Roy Amara, Robert Ayres, Daniel Bell, Kenneth Boulding, Arthur Clarke, Peter Drucker, Victor Ferkiss, Barry Hughes, Alexander King, Richard Lamm, Michael Marien, Dennis Meadows, James Ogilvy, Gerard O'Neill, John Pierce, Peter Schwartz, and Robert Theobald.

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Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell