Free Future Shock, Alvin Toffler

The book written in 1970, gives startling insights into the working of organizations in the future (which is today). The book is widely regarded as a masterpiece on futurology.

The author foresees that, the two strengths of an organization, permanence and hierarchy (which the author calls, bureaucracy) will be doomed and will be replaced by “Adhocracy”.
The author foresees the following scenarios in the future (i.e. 90’s and the early 21st century):

*There would be a fair amount of mergers and acquisitions taking place, which would continuously overhaul an organization, which the author terms as the “organizational upheaval”. These phenomena would threaten its permanence.
*The work will mostly be done by project teams, which would be promptly discarded after the job is completed. This would make the organization highly unstable.
*With the exponential increase in production, the production time will be reduced; this would make the downtime very costly and will require faster flow of information for faster execution decisions. This would result in the bypassing of the hierarchy, the ” hands” will take the decisions and not the managers.

The solutions to these problems, the author opines is, “Adhocracy”. He says, like modularism in architecture, we have to strengthen the structure by using disposable components. We’ve to use highly adaptive work systems. The prediction made in the book has been more or less true and organizations that have survived have made certain changes, as foreseen by the book e.g., flat structures, faster information flows and development of task-team, etc.

The important lessons about strategic management learnt from this book are that though the components of an organization may change frequently, the structure remains the same (or relatively so). This forms the basis of future decisions. The structure should be such that, the changes (which are inevitable) should affect the components and not the structure. This gives an organization a better chance to survive in an environment which changes continuously and where permanence is non-existent.

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