I decided to reread this book after 27 years to see how accurately it represented the experiences of the past 27 years. How nice a surprise I received when I found that the broad themes were beautifully portrayed against the background of the prior agricultural and industrial economies. This long term perspective made the articulation of the future vision clearer.
Particularly impressive in retrospect is the description of a forecast for mass customized products. The customer "will become so integrated into the production process that we find it . . . difficult to tell . . . who is the producer." One might be reading about someone ordering a computer on the Dell Web site.
Almost equally impressive is the appreciation of how electronic connections will establish horizontal connections. "Even a partial shift towards the electronic office will be enough to trigger an eruption of social, psychological, and economic consequences." "It promises to restructure all human relationships and roles in the office as well."
Key insights related to:
(1) Companies needing to take on full responsibility for the consequences of their actions on society and the environment;
(2) Companies becoming much more important social institutions of change;
(3) Information moving to the center of major decisions;
(4) Government spreading its influence so that business and politics become inextricably entwined; and
(5) Institutional ethics coming to more closely reflect social ethics.
In fact, this is the first book I have located that sees the business organization as the critical institution in making ecological, moral, political, racial, sexual and social change, as well as the usual transactional ones.
The fundamental vision of humanity as seeking a more appropriate civilization that is built around individual choice in coordinating social interests is a remarkably accurate description of the evolution of the free market democracies over the last 20 years.
Realizing how hard it is to forecast anything, one comes away with a remarkable appreciation for Alvin Toffler's fundamental estimation of human potential. He took that understanding, tied technology to it, and found the answer quite well.
After enjoying this remarkable book (for the first time or) again, I encourage you to consider how these same human characteristics will take us forward in the future. How can you facilitate this felicitous development?
Make your actions and those you cooperate in serve everyone's best interests!