Vanishing Point

Applying a 19th Century Innovation to Today’s Talent Crisis

Posted by Dan Fukushima

Oct 31, 2019 1:14:09 PM

“The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there.”

- Alvin Toffler, 2007


In the late 19th century, John D. Rockefeller had a vision for the mass availability of affordable oil and its byproducts. The challenge he faced was that his existing suppliers could neither efficiently nor flexibly provide the quality resources needed by Standard Oil. He solved the problem by vertically integrating his supply chain. The business model took 100 years into the Industrial Age, Alvin Toffler’s Second Wave, to invent. Today, it is one that can provide a model for solving current challenges.

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RAPPORT // Unleashing a New Kind of R&D in the ESG Environment

Posted by Deb Westphal

Oct 10, 2019 11:57:40 AM

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 

- George Bernard Shaw


Momentum is building around the call for responsible investments focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk. Many early adopters have embraced the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals framework as a structured means of communicating their ESG impact progress. Institutional investors are rapidly maturing their ownership strategies to position ESG responsible businesses in their portfolios. Asset management companies such as Columbia Threadneedle are creating unique responsible investment rating systems to assess financial stewardship and ESG risk management. Many of these organizations are referencing the lessons learned from helping companies address sustainability risks and opportunities to inform how they develop ESG guidance and influence.

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RAPPORT // These are the New Faces of Connection and Influence

Posted by Deb Westphal

Sep 25, 2019 9:00:00 AM

“What I hope to achieve with this protest is attention in the media, so that the media will write about the climate crisis, so that people will somehow open their eyes and see the crisis and treat it like a crisis and do something about it.”

— Greta Thunberg, September 2018


In August of 2018, a solo fifteen-year-old sat outside the Swedish parliament building, kicking off the first school strike for climate. In the 14 months since that courageous act, Greta Thunberg has moved millions of teenagers across the globe to become climate activists. She has presented her perspective on climate change to leadership forums including TEDx Stockholm, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the World Economic Forum, the National Assembly in Paris, and the EU Parliament. The New Yorker has called her the “Joan of Arc for climate change.” Elon Musk tweeted his support of Greta’s activities. And on September 23, just days ago,  she delivered her most passionate speech to date at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.


I’ve used this blog to share my strong views and concerns for the future with regard to climate change, and have focused attention on Greta in the past.  This post is not meant to reiterate those points. Rather, it is to consider the changing nature of connection and influence.

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RAPPORT // A Call to Leaders: Rebuild Trust Through Truth and Vulnerability

Posted by Deb Westphal

Sep 12, 2019 9:00:00 AM

“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

- Dr. Brené Brown


The word trust gets a lot of airtime. All it takes is a quick flip through your favorite news source or social media feed for a hefty dose of reasons why we question our trust in the media, each other, our government, and business. In its recent report Trust and Distrust in America, the Pew Research Center confirms we’re experiencing a crisis in facts and truth. It’s a highly detailed study but makes a central point that this sad state of affairs is tied to the distrust we have in our institutions.


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Infographic: Work Life 2040

Posted by Denise Sughrue

Aug 22, 2019 1:30:00 PM

Based on current data, we know our lives will be different in 2040. To prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the near future, we must address the skills, technologies, and structures we will need to thrive in a changed professional climate. We view the future through the lenses of Privacy, Artificial Intelligence, Education & Learning, Digital Living, Life Expectancy, and Income Inequality. The infographic below explains the potential implications to our future professional lives. What are you doing to prepare?

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From Toddler to Team Leader – Educating the 2040 Workforce

Posted by Bob Wagner

Aug 8, 2019 4:01:22 PM

In May, Toffler Associates hosted an event called Pinot and Ponder, which brought together 75 people to imagine what professional life and the nature of the workforce will be in 2040. The broad consensus was that by that point, machines will have taken over a significant number of the tasks currently performed by humans because. Last week, a colleague and I had the distinct pleasure of presenting the results of this discussion before the joint meeting of the Federal Foresight Community of Interest, the Public Sector Foresight Network, and the Association for Professional Futurists. The theme of this session centered on the disparate rates of progress between human and machine learning, and how education and government can most effectively create parity over the coming decades.

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Welcome to the Face of Leadership in 2040

Posted by Maria Bothwell

Aug 1, 2019 10:24:08 AM

Nobody knows the future with certainty. We can, however, identify ongoing patterns of change.

- Alvin Toffler

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RAPPORT // The Future Is in the Hands of Our Youth – Are They Prepared?

Posted by Deb Westphal

Jun 5, 2019 10:14:06 AM

Next year marks the 50th year anniversary of Future Shock. The upcoming milestone presented the opportunity to recently open my well-worn copy to revisit the epochal writing. As the anniversary of this bestseller draws nearer, we will have more opportunities to discuss the impact of the Toffler’s work. One important idea presented towards the end of the book seems very fitting to discuss now, however, especially given our fast approach to the 2020 election season.

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How Audacious Goals and Collaboration Can Build a Better Future

Posted by Denise Sughrue

May 30, 2019 9:45:00 AM

Our modern entertainment and pop culture have taken a distinctly, alarmingly dystopian spin. When is the last time you saw the future depicted as a terrific time and place, filled with people thriving thanks to creative solutions to today’s intractable problems? It’s much more likely that you see a trend or concern of today taken to its dreadful conclusion. Take, for example, shows like The Handmaid’s Tale or movies like A Quiet Place. The list goes on with stories of people and communities raging against their context. 


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U.S. National Security Hinges on Robust Manufacturing

Posted by John Chase

Apr 3, 2019 9:12:53 AM

The United States has long maintained a causal relationship between industrial capability and national security. As our domestic manufacturing capabilities continue to erode and fall behind those in other global superpowers, the outcomes are predictable. In a recent series of war simulations, research organization RAND pit the U.S. against China and Russia. The results were startling. We lose quickly and badly.[1]

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