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The Elephant and the Flea: Looking Backwards to the Future

The Elephant and the Flea: Looking Backwards to the Future

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In this new work, Charles Handy, the brilliant social philosopher and management guru, examines the questions that face us at the start of a new age. Using the metaphor of the Elephant and the Flea he discusses the future of everything from education, work and marriage, to capitalism, management, religion and society. He carefully considers the balancing act that both individuals (fleas) and larger organizations (elephants) will face in the next twenty years.

Increasingly technological advances mean the disappearance of the middle - or disintermediation. This means that many careers will radically transform or vanish altogether in the coming decades. If vacationers can go on-line to access all their travel information they won't need travel agents. If a patient can access a diagnosis on the net, and purchase medication through a dot.com drug store, then the need for doctors will plummet.

Handy explores the significance of the vast changes we can expect, and those already here, brought about by the democratic power of the internet. He suggests that many people will learn to develop a portfolio career, expecting to change directions dramatically throughout their lives. A multitude of fleas - consultants, suppliers, sub-contractors, and advisers - will support larger organizations, without being full-time employees. The office, Handy predicts, will become more of a club house, with luxurious meeting rooms, gyms, and even overnight accommodations. And that transformation will change even the look of our city skylines.