Reading about real-life and fictional long term planning
October 16, 2020 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Hello Hive Mind. I'd like to read up on long term planning. Not the "Long Now" style very long term planning, something more personal, human scale. Long term plans, one can see come to fruition or at most takes three generations to take effect. How do people, organizations plan? What tools they use? How do they manage a collection of plans and interdependencies between them? How to update said plans when new information make them outdated? Some examples inside.

I like Dune and Foundation as much as anyone who read them in their teenage years, but what I'm thinking about is more like:

- The Professor in La Casa de Papel calmly informing the other robbers that there is a second tunnel he already built five years ago
- Never got around reading it (yet), but I guess The Count of Monte Cristo has some seriously long term planning going on
- War Plan Red by the US Department of war, just in case
- The German army in the 19th century Kriegsspieling out every imaginable conflict
- Me planning for the birth of my second son 6 years ago, and buying celebratory whisky - which is discountinued by now
- Long term plans in diplomacy and military strategy,
- but also in science programs: how does NASA or Roscosomos go about planning for 10-20+ years of research programs, and more importantly, how do they manage these during this whole time?

If you have non-fiction sources about the nitty-gritty of planning no matter how small or big, I'm happy to read it. But I'm also very much in the mood for reading fiction or watching movies/TV with this type of planning going on. I already found a nice list of heist movies providing tons of planning and scheming. But i need more!
posted by kmt to Technology (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Your question made me think of the great cathedrals that took 200+ years to build in some cases. I don't have any recommendations of books, but it's a pretty remarkable example of information transfer over many generations.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:39 AM on October 16, 2020

Stories of Your Life and Others contains an excellent account of the building of the Tower of Babel that fits this very well. I feel like I know a bunch more but that one's a nice bite-sized text that hits lots of your interest points.
posted by teremala at 7:52 AM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Well, in the fiction arena, some of Neal Stephenson's fiction like Anathem and maybe Snow Crash or Reamde might be in this category (sorry, been a while since I listened to the audio books, but I believe they depict sweeping projects and intrigue). And there's Dennis Taylor's Bobiverse (about a normal guy who had his mind preserved but a future government used it as the basis for a space exploration AI) and maybe even Ready Player 1 which cover's the widespread collapse of Earth society and people taking to Virtual Reality Presence to cope with everyday life (wait, why does that sound familiar?)

Oh yes, almost forgot, on edit, Daniel Suarez's books Daemon and Freedom I think are even more about long term planning, in this case after your own demise.
posted by forthright at 9:54 AM on October 16, 2020

Hilary Mantels novels about Thomas Cromwell have a number of these "I love it when a plan comes together" moments. Henry's court is a very unstable environment, because Henry is an increasingly unstable person, so there's the additonal challenge of having to adjust plans on the spot according to the whims of the monarch, but Cromwell's quite up to it (until, spoiler, I guess, he isn't. But it's a heady trip to that point).
posted by sohalt at 1:56 PM on October 16, 2020

Way back when I learned about visioning and preferred futuring via this great post about an interview with Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's deli. My follow-up AskMe provided some good additional reading.

This process has apparently been used by a number of townships and community groups to envision what they want their future to look like.
posted by kristi at 9:24 PM on October 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

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