wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Alvin Toffler (1928- )Alvin Toffler


American expert on the future of organizations and people (pictured right).


Key books


Future Shock (1970)

(for more detail see  Future Shock in the Business Books section).

The future will be dominated by

  • change and “future shock” (too much change in too short a time, causing stress and other social problems).
  • innovation and technology.
  • new information and knowledge (from continual learning and education).
  • the pursuit of customer satisfaction and quality 
  • individualism and diversity of values and lifestyles 
  • the throw-away society

  • transient relationships

  • the “ad- hocracy” organization (constantly changing, knowedge driven and non-hierarchical).

  • the service economy


Key quote on change

Today change is so swift... that yesterday’s truths suddenly become today’s fictions.


Key quote on learning

Tomorrow’s illiterate will be the man who has not learned how to learn.



The Third Wave (1980)

(see for more detail The Third Wave in the Business Books section)


Society has developed in three stages:


 1. The First Wave

(the agricultural economy).


2. The Second Wave

(the industrial economy started by the Industrial Revolution)


3. The Third Wave

(the post-industrial, knowledge economy). 


The Third Wave is characterized by:


a) flexibility, innovation and change

(e.g. flexible manufacturing, adapting to customer needs).


b) information society

Society being driven by information and knowledge.


c) niche marketing

(selling to market segments)


d) prosumers 

People becoming both producers and consumers e.g. DIY


e) more part-time and home working


f) socially responsible organizations


g) transient relationships and computerization


h) de-massification  

(fragmentation of society into smaller parts e.g. small business units).


Key quote on the knowledge economy

For Third Wave civilization, the most basic raw material of all...is information including imagination. 



Powershift (1991)


Powershift is...

The transfer of power to the knowledgeable.


So success (by individuals and organizations) depends on:


1. Challenging and improving upon existing ideas and opinions


2. Learning and education

These give people more influence, leading to their:

  • demands for participation in decision making.
  • refusal to blindly obey orders.


3. The control of knowledge 

There are three sources of power:

  • mind - persuasion through knowledge (most important in today's changing world).
  • money - the promise of reward.
  • muscle - the threat of punishment.

The control of knowledge leads to power struggles and conflict.


Key quotes on knowledge management

Knowledge is the most democratic source of power.

The control of knowledge is the crux of tomorrow’s worldwide struggle for power in every human institution.


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