Chapter Summary

Chapter 1: The Need for a Flexible Stance. The world is less predictable before, requiring businesses to adopt practices that enable flexible responses to unforeseen changes.

Chapter 2: The Failure of Forecasts—You Won’t See the Next Recession Coming. Economists have a poor track record of predicting recessions. You need to plan for a possible recession before you hear the forecast.

Chapter 3: Technological Progress Accelerates. Technological changes comes in unexpected ways, and some widely-expected technology never comes at all.

Chapter 4: Business is a Social Activity. Businesses need positive attitudes on the part of customers, employees, suppliers and their communities, but changes in social attitudes are hard to predict.

Chapter 5: Government and Business. Government laws, regulations and taxes impact business in many ways, but government is becoming less predictable. Laws are more complex, governments are trying totally new approaches, and polarization triggers political swings.

Chapter 6: Competition Less Predictable.  Think of Amazon, Uber and pop-up stores. Do you know who your next competitor will be? If you think you do, you are at risk of being wrong.

Chapter 7: Today’s Decisions, Tomorrow’s Flexibility. Everyday business decisions can limit your ability to expand or contract your business in the future. Be aware of the tradeoffs.

Chapter 8: Making Plans That Will Help You Through Hard Times. A contingency plan for recession or other setbacks is the greatest protection against uncertainty.

Chapter 9: Good Times Bring Surprising Challenges. To take advantages of good times, businesses must anticipate the challenges they will face in expansion.

Chapter 10: Strategy in the Flexible Company. Traditional corporate planning was based on one view of the future. The Flexible Company considers alternative scenarios.

Chapter 11: Faster Is Safer. Faster processes, such as sales cycles and product development times, reduce risk by shortening the period of uncertainty.

Chapter 12: Managing Flexibly in an Inflexible Company. Many bosses don’t want to hear about contingency plans, but their managers can still protect the company from unforeseen changes.

Chapter 13: Public Policy and the Flexible Stance. Governments are prone to make policies that assume no external change. There are simple steps that can reduce the public’s risk.

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