The future is a tricky thing. An opening sentiment I’m sure many economists, policy makers and politicians would agree with right now, but also a logical truism. Books about the future and what it will bring always set themselves to invite ridicule a few years down the line, and have an inevitable lack of concrete foundations: what the future holders, even for professional futurologists such as Bob Johansen, can only ultimately be subjective guesswork. Whether we are looking at the future of work (as Richard Donkin did in another book reviewed here), of leadership, of organisations, or of society, it’s worth remembering a lesson from talent management: past performance is not a reliable guide. Yet, as Marshall McLuhan once observed, “We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.”
As a former President and Board member of the Institute For The Future, Bob Johansen should be as qualified a guide to what lies ahead as we are likely to find, drawing on four decades of experience of future casting for some of the world’s largest organisations. By its very nature, the future has always been uncertain; recently, the level of uncertainty seems to be increasing and leaders can no more be immune for anxiously wonder what it will mean for them than anyone else. Books such as Leaders Make The Future are, perhaps, only to be expected: that Johansen is one of a small number of authors essaying serious attempts to address this audience is to be welcomed.