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.


Mark Ronson – who, to parody Private Eye’s impression of High Court Judges, we might describe to the unfamiliar as a producer of popular music discs – isn’t the first man I’d turn to for insights into the impact of communications media on modern life. (No offence meant, Mr Ronson: if we’re maligning you too unfairly, perhaps a PR angle adjustment is due?) But his tweet of 30 March 2011 hit one modern nail very firmly on the head:

the problem with answering emails is that, then you’re almost always guaranteed to receive another one”

(If you’re susceptible to the idea of now playing text or tweet tennis with him, I hope you saw his more recent offering – “I read most my texts/tweets aloud in a Vincent Price voice. Don’t write me things like “ahahahahahahaha”, it comes off creepy and sinister”: any suggestions for messages to tweet to him appreciated. Perhaps we could match-make an online bromance with

My point – and I think Ronson’s also – is that sending emails or texts is now so easy it’s as difficult to resist temptation as it is to give in: that is, not very difficult at all. We may tell ourselves we live in The Information Age, but surely an economist would disagree: commodities gain value through either scarcity (which plainly doesn’t apply) or utility (which must be highly debatable).