Home Opinion Learned from Alvin Toffler in 1976

Learned from Alvin Toffler in 1976

by Paul Ebeling


“No serious futurist deals in ‘predictions,’ ” Alvin Toffler wrote in the Future Shock introduction.

He made me think about what is possible, not what will be, but what is possible“–Paul Ebeling

I read all of his works, learned a lot, and here are the Key takeaways from Future Shock, as follows:


Fewer and fewer jobs today require employees to be physically present in their office. Mr. Toffler predicted this and the rise of home offices, writing that homes would 1 day resemble “electronic cottages” that would allow people greater work-life balance and a richer family life. That has happened.

Businesses without formal structure

Mr. Toffler popularized the phrase “adhocracy,” a reference to a company that operates without a formal hierarchy. An adhocracy as defined by him is flexible and often horizontally structured. It allows for creativity and adaptability, since employees are not pigeonholed into certain roles. Many startups today are adhocracies–offering roles that change based on needs and titles that would not fit anywhere on a traditional corporate ladder.

 The sharing economy

Alvin Toffler believed we would live in a society where there was no reason to own anything. Part of this was wrong. He predicted people would wear Papagallo clothes made of paper that were disposed of after every use. But other aspects of this concept hit the bulls eye, specifically, the idea that we would be able to use things as needed and return them when we’re done. The ride-hailing apps fall under this category, as do Rent the Runway for wedding garb and Airbnb for apartments. It has never been easier to call something your own, if just for a few days or a few mins at a time.

Knowledge is the driving force of power

A Key driving theme of Alvin Toffler’s work was that knowledge would become the driving force behind powerful societies, more so even than labor or materials. He wrote that those people, institutions, and civilizations that failed to keep up with the pace of new information would quickly fade. He predicted the spread of free-flowing information via personal computers and the internet, and brought the term “information overload” into the popular lexicon, a reference to the difficulty many if not most people have understanding issues and making decisions because of the overwhelming amounts of data available. 

Remember to learn, unlearn, relearn and be ready for changes.

Have a prosperous day, Keep the Faith!

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