20 Quotes from Alvin Toffler: Honoring a Pioneer

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


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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: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 

20 More Quotable Quotes from the Global Leadership Summit 2015 Part II

Today’s post contains 20 more great quotes from speakers at the Global Leadership Summit last week. If you missed the first post you can access it here.

  1. Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see. What organization doesn’t need this ability? Ed Catmull (Pixar Pictures)
  2. Talent can get you to the top but only character will keep you there. Craig Groeschel
  3. We don’t hire people we select people. This is the first step to employing caring people. Horst Schultze
  4. In a growing company you are under-qualified every day. Liz Wiseman
  5. When God asks you a question, remember that it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer. Sam Adeyemi
  6. I don’t want a job I am qualified for because then I’d have nothing to learn! Work satisfaction increases as our level of work challenge increases. Liz Wiseman
  7. Whenever we delegate tasks we create followers. When we delegate authority we develop leaders. Craig Groeschel
  8. No one can claim superiority over another human being. Horst Schultze
  9. When we professionally linger too long on a plateau a little part of ourselves dies. Liz Wiseman
  10. You cannot do leadership without a source of regenerative strength. What is your source? Bill Hybels
  11. It is immoral to hire people to perform a function. I hire them to join my dream. Horst Schultze
  12. The rookie zone is powerful because we don’t like it. As a result, we work hard to reduce the tension. This produces great results, ones which are often beyond the expected capacity of a rookie. Liz Wiseman
  13. As an organization changes your mindset as a leader also has to change. This becomes the lid to you organization. Whenever my organization starts to settle I believe I have to lift my lid, my capacity I have to think and act in a different way to achieve different results. Craig Groeschel
  14. Signs that your performance is at a plateau | the remedy to your plateau:
    – Things are running smoothly | Throw away your notes.
    – You already have the answers | Become the one who asks the questions.
    – You get positive feedback | Admit what you don’t know to others.
    – You’ve become the mentor | Let someone else lead.
    – You’re busy but bored | It’s time to disqualify yourself and put yourself at the bottom of a learning curve.  Liz Wiseman
  15. The five C’s of expanding your capacity.
    Build your confidence.
    2. Expand your connections.
    3. Improve your competence.
    4. Strengthen your character. If character is not strengthening your capacity is weakening. We need to check our leadership for leaks.
    5. Increase your commitment.

Sheila Heen, co-author of the book Thanks for the Feedback provided my favorite session. I have grouped her quotes as they flow best together.

  1. We each have two human needs: To learn and grow & to be respected, accepted and loved the way you are. Even though feedback facilitates learning and growth, it conflicts with our need to feel respected. This is a key reason we resist feedback. Sheila Heen
  1. The fastest way for an organization to improve feedback is for the leader to personally model it. Sheila Heen
  2. There are three kinds of feedback and organizations must utilize all three to be effective:
    Evaluation. This rates you against standards and peers. It lets you know where you stand.
    2. Coaching. This information helps you get better and learn. It is an engine for learning.
    3. Appreciation. Most desire for feedback is usually for appreciation. It motivates us. Sheila Heen
  3. 93% of employees feel underappreciated. When work gets difficult, appreciation is the first thing to drop. Sheila Henn
  4. Evaluation and coaching get tangled together. When this occurs, the noise of evaluation drowns out coaching efforts. Think of this like a term paper. When you get your assignment grade back (evaluation) you tend to tune out the professor notes in the margins (coaching) if the grade is higher or lower than expected. Sheila Heen

 

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Dr. Jeff Suderman is a leader-in-process, 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

20 Quotable Quotes from the Global Leadership Summit 2015 Part I

Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual two-day Global Leadership Summit (via video feed). I was impressed by the depth of speakers, the quality of the content and the level of personal challenge that I encountered. In order to pass along the goodness, today’s blog contains 20 of my favorite quotes.

  1. True leadership only exists if people follow what they have the freedom to not follow. James McGregor Burns.
  2. If you show me who you are being influenced by I will show you what you are becoming. Craig Groeschel
  3. Dissatisfied customers are reputation terrorists. Horst Schultze
  4. I am not failing – I am growing! Do you have the ability to reframe failure as growth in order to achieve your goals? Jim Collins
  5. We all have strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. In fact, an average person has 3.4 blind spots. Bill Hybels
  6. Other people have all kinds of information about you that is invisible to you. How do you get feedback? Sheila Heen
  7. Complacency is a stealthy thing. It enters our house as a guest and then it acts as the host before it becomes our master. Liz Wiseman
  8. If leaders don’t have an antidote for fear they will be crushed by it. What is your antidote? Bill Hybels
  9. The consequence of following you should hold the promise of positive life change for those who do so. Sam Adeyemi
  10. Many leadership problems are driven by low self-awareness. Bill Hybels
  11. Creative leadership impact increases in your 50’s. When I turn 50 I want to say, “Nice start!” Jim Collins
  12. It is not the absence of money that makes you poor. It is the absence of vision and ideas. Sam Adeyemi
  13. If you have a charismatic cause you don’t need to be a charismatic leader. Jim Collins
  14. How can you succeed by helping others succeed? We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed. Jim Collins
  15. Effective leaders have grit. Grit development demands difficulty. The archenemy of grit is ease. Billy Hybels
  16. Be rigorous about your HR decisions. There is a difference between rigorous and ruthless. Jim Collins.
  17. Sometimes our organizations don’t grow because our leader fails to believe in the abilities of their followers. Liz Wiseman
  18. Leadership grit begets grit. Lead by example. Bill Hybels
  19. Your brain does not understand what you are capable of. There is way more inside of you than you can imagine. Craig Groeschel
  20. Don’t take care of your career. Take care of your people. They will take care of your career. Jim Collins

Later this week I will post part II. Stay tuned for 20 more great quotes…


 

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Dr. Jeff Suderman is a leader-in-process, 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

The Best of: Summarizing the 2014 ILA Conference

My first participation in the International Leadership Association conference was a very enjoyable experience. Three full days of presentations (with too many options to count)  would appeal to any individual with interest in the broad field of leadership. The presentations were a good mix of practitioners speaking about real-life application of leadership as well those who research and provide insights about emerging leadership issues.

Thoughout the weekend I tweeted and blogged my favorite quotes from the sessions I attended. Here is a summary of my top 15:

  1. The crisis of US congress is an issue of followership and not an issue of leadership. Barbara Kellerman
  2. Followers are the gem cutters of leadership, coaxing out its full brilliance. Ira Chaleff @followercourage
  3. Leadership studies and leadership programs are not necessarily leadership development. Susan Komives @SusanKomives
  4. Vitamins are to people as values are to organizations. Bernie Jaworski
  5. We live in an era of organized irresponsibility.  Otto Scharmer @ottoscharmer1
  6. What happens at the beginning of any creative process? Nothing! Creativity requires that we create space and wait for something to emerge. Otto Scharmer
  7. We need to move beyond seeing people as hired hands to seeing them as hired hearts. Kathleen Patterson
  8. The lines between organizational culture and organizational brand are merging. Steve Trainor
  9. Its time to legitimize the term follower. Ronald Riggio @ronriggio
  10. The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener. Bill O’Brien
  11. It is easier to recognize the quality of leadership in the behavior of their followers than it is in the behavior of the leader.  Kevin Lowe [Read this again – this is an amazing quote]
  12. Effective leaders of change must serve equally as agents of change and protectors of continuity. Samuel Wilson
  13. Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole. Otto Scharmer
  14. Succession planning often results in the selection of a weaker representation of yourself. Peter Drucker
  15. Courageous followership is the courage to stand up for leaders when they are right and stand up to them when they are wrong. Ira Chaleff

While the event is titled ‘International’, the actual content had a much more North American slant than I would have preferred. This event will be held in Europe next year so I’m sure this will improve. My conference highlight was the attention given to the importance of effective followership (my blog the week of ILA happened to focus on this – What if Everything Rises & Falls on Followership?). I believe that followership is a topic that will dominate leadership literature for the next decade or two. While I have very few negative comments about the conference, one would be related to the extremely heavy emphasis on the concept of mindful leadership (a somewhat self-evident concept to me). I had to laugh at the amount of conversations that I had where people used the phrase, “in my dissertation/book…”. It appears that the practices of servant leadership are still emerging. Or perhaps I’m just insecure because I haven’t written a book 😉

Details about next years conference in Barcelona, Spain can be found here (October 14 – 17, 2015). Those who wish to submit presentation proposals can do so here by February 1, 2015. #ILABarcelona

More detailed overviews of each of the days can be found here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.


 

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

 

14 Leadership Lessons: Quotes from the final day of the International Leadership Conference – San Diego

It was a great conference! Here is the final installment of quotes from our speakers.

  1. Followers are the gem cutters of leadership, coaxing out its full brilliance. Ira Challef
  2. We need to move beyond seeing people as hired hands to seeing them as hired hearts. Kathleen Patterson
  3. Over 94% of execs and 88% of employees believe a distinct culture is important to success. Deloitte
  4. Organizational culture is molded out of what we see, say and do. Steve Trainor
  5. The common understanding of organizational culture, ‘the way we do things around here’, needs to shift to ‘why we do the things we do around here’. Steve Trainor
  6. Without objectives, goals, strategies and vision, culture is dead by dinner. Steve Trainor
  7. The lines between organizational culture and organizational brand are merging. Steve Trainor
  8. The term ‘leaderful’ defines an individuals leadership behaviors that everyone sees. Myra Dingman
  9. A servant leader influences people with selfless behaviours, giving credit rather than taking credit. Deloitte Apex Program via Kathkeen Patterson
  10. Servant leadership is doing the right things at the right times for the right reasons. Kathleen Patterson
  11. If organizations are to affect deep and lasting change, every individual in the organization must be willing to change. Porras
  12. We are all followers first. Rusty Ricketson
  13. A problem with using situational leadership is the particular leader style to be employed is based on the leaders ability to accurately determine the followers developmental level. They may be wrong! Rusty Ricketson
  14. Leader style sclerosis is the hardening of the categories: where we can only practice our preferred leadership style. Rusty Rickertson

20 Leadership Lessons: Quotes from day 2 of the International Leadership Conference – San Diego

Here is a summary of the quotes I enjoyed from day 2 of the ILA conference (November 1, 2014).

  1. Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole. Otto Scharmer
  2. We live in an era of disorganized irresponsibility.   Otto Scharmer
  3. The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener. Bill O’Brien
  4. What happens at the beginning of a any creative process? Nothing! The creative process requires we create space for something to emerge. We have to hold open the space for something to be born. Otto Scharmer
  5. In 1964 Peter Drucker reminded us that we have a moral and civic responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. Responsible leadership is not a new idea!
  6. Succession planning often results in the selection of a weaker representation of yourself. Peter Drucker
  7. Trust is congruence between what you say and what you do. Peter Drucker
  8. Establishing and building relationships requires mutual relinquishment of control. Michelle Bligh
  9. Vitamins are to people as values are to organizations. Bernie Jaworski
  10. The best way to predict the future is to create it. Peter Drucker.
  11. Courageous followership is the courage to stand up for leaders when they are right and stand up to them when they are wrong. Ira Challeff
  12. We need to legitimize the term follower. Ronald Riggio
  13. Definition: Following is a particular form of behavior that involves recognizing and granting legitimacy to another’s influence attempt or status. Derue and Ashford
  14. It is easier to recognize the quality of leadership in their followers behavior than it is in the behavior of the leader. [Read this again – this is an amazing quote] Kevin Lowe
  15. Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. Niels Bohrs
  16. The emerging organization is an ecosystem. It is scalable and will expand and contract in response to the market. Philip Foster
  17. Understanding the connection between personal troubles and social forces leads to social and individual change. Carmela Nanton
  18. Compulsive modernization is the insatiable desire to change and grow. Samuel Wilson
  19. The liquid state of modernity is corrosive to continuity. Samuel Wilson
  20. Effective leaders of change must equally serve as agents of change and protectors of continuity. Samuel Wilson

There is one more day to go so stay tuned for the summary of Sunday’s sessions!