FUTURE PERFECT by Stanley M. Davis


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A low-key exercise in futurism that offers corporate executives thoughtful, if notional, guidance on surviving and thriving in a post-industrial business environment. Consultant Davis ignores consumer activism, human longevity, incomes policy, protectionism, and other socioeconomic issues with commercial implications. Instead, he focuses on the prospective rewards of viewing time, space, and materiality as resources, not restraints. As he sees things, the big idea is to add value to product lines by making them more convenient to use--and easier to obtain: disposable razors, cameras, and hotel ""keys,"" for example. Tomorrow's wired-up, switched-on marketplace, Davis predicts, will belong largely to suppliers able to mass merchandise goods and services on a customized basis in (or near) real time. He cites five state-of-the-art means to this oxymoronic end: holography, parallel processing (by so-called supercomputers with nanosecond speed), specialty microcircuits, designer genes, and one-of-a-kind catalysts. To take effective advantage of high-tech opportunities (beyond Cabbage Patch dolls, cable TV, and the like), Davis argues, managers must overcome traditional ways of thinking, i.e., those that accept sequencing or allied constraints as constants. Along similar lines, Davis asserts that to be competitive, hierarchical organizations will have to institute internal reforms. Minimizing employment of intermediaries and shrinking unproductive bureaucracies are but a couple of the many possibilities. On the plus side of the ledger, he points to Federal Express as an enterprise exemplifying the breakthroughs that can be achieved by innovative, systematic control of time, space, and material. In brief, then, challenging perspectives that--for a refreshing change--stress process rather than prophecy.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1987
Publisher: Addison-Wesley