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Futurist Alvin Toffler | 1928 – 2016

Guest Blogger: Jeff Suderman

This week the world lost a great mind when Alvin Toffler passed away at the age of 87.

Perhaps the greatest futurist of his time, Toffler is best known for his book Future Shock (1970). “His insatiable curiosity drove him to challenge common perceptions and offer keen insights into the trajectory of business and civilizations” (Toffler Associates). As a guru of the post-industrial age he is heralded for his anticipation of the transformation brought about by the rise of digital technology decades before it occurred.

In honor of his legacy, today’s blog contains 20 of his best quotes.

  1. The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

  2. Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.

  3. Most managers were trained to be the thing they most despise — bureaucrats.

  4. Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.

  5. Knowledge is the most democratic source of power.

  6. You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

  7. One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition.

  8. Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.

  9. You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment.

  10. Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it.

  11. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.

  12. A library is a hospital for the mind.

  13. The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.

  14. Individuals need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensible structure is an aimless wreck. The absence of structure breeds breakdown.

  15. It does little good to forecast the future of semiconductors or energy, or the future of the family (even one’s own family), if the forecast springs from the premise that everything else will remain unchanged. For nothing will remain unchanged. The future is fluid, not frozen. It is constructed by our shifting and changing daily decisions, and each event influences all others.

  16. The Law of Raspberry Jam: the wider any culture is spread, the thinner it gets.

  17. It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.

  18. Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur.

  19. Any decent society must generate a feeling of community. Community offsets loneliness. It gives people a vitally necessary sense of belonging. Yet today the institutions on which community depends are crumbling in all the techno-societies. The result is a spreading plague of loneliness.

  20. Science fiction is held in low regard as a branch of literature, and perhaps it deserves this critical contempt. But if we view it as a kind of sociology of the future, rather than as literature, science fiction has immense value as a mind-stretching force for the creation of the habit of anticipation. Our children should be studying Arthur C. Clarke, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley, not because these writers can tell them about rocket ships and time machines but, more important, because they can lead young minds through an imaginative exploration of the jungle of political, social, psychological, and ethical issues that will confront these children as adults.

Alvin Toffler | 1928 – 2016


Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:


Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available on Amazon. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him at

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