The Art of the Long View, by Peter Schwartz (Doubleday/Currency, 1991), chronicles one of the most provocative approaches to long-term planning I've encountered. Called "scenario planning," it involves creating stories about how the world might change and what would be required of an organization to adapt. You may quibble with Schwartz's contention that the process, developed with the support of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, can be replicated by even the tiniest business. But don't let that stop you from studying his "scenarios." If nothing else, they will force you to reconsider your own technique for evaluating what the future holds for your business.
For years now Inc. has been examining "ownership cultures" -- environments that empower people to make contributions that consistently transcend the norms. Perhaps the best introduction to the subject has just arrived, in the unlikely guise of a book called Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector, by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler (Addison-Wesley, 1992). Anyone with doubts about his or her ability to foster such a culture should study the examples of people in the public sector who have succeeded despite lacking critical management tools -- incentive compensation systems, for example, or flexible promotion practices -- that we in business take for granted.