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Making an Impact Through Today's Leaders

Deb Westphal
May 19, 2014
Great LeadershipFuturists Alvin and Heidi Toffler – the namesakes of Toffler Associates – are visionaries. Celebrated in the 1970’s, 80’s and beyond for their future-forward thinking, they traveled the world, crossing paths with and making an impact on some of today’s best-known and highly successful entrepreneurs, government leaders, and business people.  

Of course, along with notoriety comes scrutiny. That’s why we were not surprised to discover recent commentary by Richard Koch, a Huffington Post contributor and author of The 80/20 Principle. Koch did a good job examining what the Tofflers got right – and what they got not so right.

Koch’s analysis has substance. His points about the Tofflers’ predictions are interesting. But not entirely, and not quite enough.

Focusing on the Toffler Influence

At Toffler Associates, our interest is in the influence Al and Heidi had on actual people, and what resulted from that influence. The Tofflers influenced business leaders to take risks and go against conventional wisdom. Those influenced went on to disruptive industries with innovative capabilities and business models; they influenced the direction of business, technology, and societies on a grand scale.

Compelling Leaders to Innovate

Our continued influence comes from not only knowing what lies ahead, but from compelling today’s leaders to do what they need to do internally to redefine their business structures, models, and processes.  Business as usual will only serve to stifle an organization’s ability to keep up with and succeed in a rapidly-changing world.

After all, many of today’s companies were designed decades ago and haven’t changed nearly as much or as quickly as the future mandates. Mature companies are designed for execution, not change. They optimize to implement proven successful business models with a goal of executing flawlessly, not to disrupt and innovate. 

Many senior executives recognize the importance of innovation, and for them it is a key focus and strategic ambition. These leaders hire Toffler Associates to help them identify innovative opportunities that will create future growth for their organizations.

But innovation is chaotic, messy, and uncertain. It takes radically different tools to measure and control. Companies wishing to seize future opportunities need new processes and procedures in order to continuously innovate in a rapidly-changing competitive environment. They need new business relationships, incentives, and organizational structures to engage their workforce in the process of strategic decision-making and innovation. These transitions are extremely difficult and take courage and persistence by leadership.

That’s where Toffler Associates comes in.

Transforming Organizations


In order for executives and leaders to transform their companies and governments into agile organizations capable of adapting quickly to future change, they must start with an understanding of the organization’s future operating environment. That understanding is followed by an exploration of the range of possibilities and implications to the organization’s existing structure and operations.

Transformation is designed to equip the organization with the nimbleness to react and adapt to threats, challenges, and opportunities with more speed and urgency. With new found agility, the organization can not only withstand a problematic or unstable environment, but can capitalize upon it. Threats are transformed into advantages; hurdles and missteps are circumvented.

Continued Pressure to Adapt

Pressure is growing for companies to break out of static models and become more adaptive to the forces of change that are shaping business environments. The successful CEO knows that adapting to rapid change, gaining insight into customer or consumer wants and needs, innovating faster than competitors, and getting more out of the workforce are all at the top the organization’s must-have list.

The Toffler influence on leaders who are building the extraordinary organizations of tomorrow started with Al and Heidi Toffler more than 40 years ago. That influence continues today with Toffler Associates. This is our purpose and our passion. This is what we get right. 
Deb Westphal

Deb Westphal

Deborah Westphal is a passionate humanist who has guided our era’s top minds and leaders to challenge biases, ignite ideas, and build connections and resilience for a secure and sound future. Her career spans more than 30 years in government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, and on virtually every continent. In 1999, Alvin Toffler tapped her as one of the founding members of his eponymous consulting firm, Toffler Associates. From 2007 through 2018, she served as the firm’s CEO and has since contributed her experience and knowledge as a member of the board. Through her work, she has guided notable organizations including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Marriott, U.S. Air Force, Baxter International, Bayer, Heinz, Microsoft, Koppers, PPG, DARPA, National Security Agency, Loral Space Systems, NASA, Qwest, Verizon, and Westinghouse. Deborah’s empathetic and thought-provoking style helps readers spot patterns that signify future risks and opportunities. She’s a sought-after speaker and writer who provided the Foreword to After Shock. Her book, Convergence: Technology, Business, and the Human-Centric Future, was published in May 2021 by Unnamed Press. Find her at deborahwestphal.com.

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