The workplace of the future — the officeverse — will disrupt many of today’s organizational models. The future officeverse will be the anytime/anyplace world of where we will work, when we will work, and how we will work. It will consist of a network of networks, with tools that will shape us in surprising ways over the next decade and beyond. The officeverse will provide a more equitable, accessible, purposeful, climate-positive future for knowledge work. While it will bring many challenges, including new concepts of sharing and managing boundaries, in the officeverse organizations will require flexibility and empowerment rather than command and control.  To prepare for the potential opportunities of the wider officeverse, every office worker, organization and policy maker should imagine how the world of work will look 10 years into the future. Such “futureback” thinking — opposed to present-forward — helps us to work backward from the future and make better decisions in the present. Questions to ask, starting with, “What’s the purpose of your office and officing?” and “What are the desired outcomes you aim to achieve with your office and by your office activities?” prompt answers along a spectrum for each of seven key areas. 

Bob Johansen began working with IFTF in 1973 and has worked as a professional futurist for nearly 50 years. The author or co-author of 12 books and a frequent keynote speaker, he recently completed a trilogy of that details the types of leadership that will thrive in the next decade. The New Leadership Literacies focuses on essential practices of leadership, picking up where Leaders Make the Future, its more skills-oriented precursor, left off; in 2020, he published Full-Spectrum Thinking, which focuses on the need for a futureback mindset.

Officeverse Timestamped Overview

  • [00:06:08] The future office is a blend of in-person and virtual meetings, with fewer office buildings that are designed for in-person activities like building trust, creativity, and corporate culture. This blend is called the Office verse, which is a universe of possibility. The tools for office-ing will dramatically improve in the next decade, leading to smarter in-person meetings and more effortless communication anytime, anywhere.
  • [00:08:37] A map about team collaboration has evolved since 1988, with the real challenge being “anytime, any place”, and COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to create better ways of working.
  • [00:11:58] The importance of flexible leadership in a VUCA world and the necessity to continuously evaluate decision-making and direction. Emphasis on the value of gaming as a preparatory tool for leadership in complex environments.
  • [00:15:23] The VUCA world requires vision, understanding, clarity, and agility. Clarity is necessary but certainty can be dangerous. The US army understands this but politicians often confuse certainty and clarity.
  • [00:18:02] A two-year book project about the future of offices introduces seven spectrums of choice, beginning with why an office is needed at all and including outcomes, climate impacts, belonging, augmentation, the spectrum of time and place, and agility. The project was supported by a furniture company in Switzerland called USM.
  • [00:21:42] Having a clear purpose is important for both individuals and organizations, and purpose-driven people and companies perform better and have longer, happier, and healthier lives. The alignment of purposes is key for success.
  • [00:26:50] In a VUCA world, there’s a shift from shareholder value to social value. The decline in office buildings causes economic challenges, but flexibility in office models and revisiting old concepts like cooperatives and partnerships could help create more equitable enterprises.
  • [00:31:25] Psychologists Maslow and Kaufman’s hierarchy of needs revisited to discuss challenges faced in creating a sense of belonging in an increasingly diverse and distributed world. Clarity in financial intent and cultural values critical to building glue that fosters belonging. Need to find common ground to overcome polarized view of “us versus them.”
  • [00:36:57] The term “artificial intelligence” was a bad choice, and the author calls it “augmented intelligence” instead. They discuss the challenge of figuring out what humans and computers do best, and use chatbots to help with drafting. They created a chatbot specifically for their book.
  • [00:41:50] Being a corporate athlete requires physical, mental and spiritual fitness. Neuroscience has provided practical insights on brain health and the importance of storytelling. Agility starts with personal fitness and should also include dynamic ways of connecting and spreading clarity to become resilient and recover quickly in the face of challenges. Efficiency-oriented approaches may not be effective enough.
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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:

You in a Vuco world, there is more flexibility in the office space sector and a tendency to ask questions of social value and equity. This is a quote from today’s guest, Bob Johnson. And what he’s getting at here is that he’s talking about the changing mindset around office space, work, culture, and as well as the importance of considering social and main community values in the workplace. And that’s what we’re talking about here today, folks, is that we’re talking about the changing landscape of the workplace and how it’s going to look in the future. And let me tell you right up, right here, right now, that the book Office Shock and the concept of the office verse is one of the best readings I’ve done in a long time. And this, of course, is all wrapped around predominantly our third domain, I E leading your organization. But there’s also a bit of team sprinkle in there and of course, a little bit of yourself in that you’re learning how to operate in new environments with new demands, new systems, and overall, a whole new mentality of what the workplace actually is and how it looks like. Today’s episode, Bob and I, we talk about a whole whack of topics such as the changing landscape, how the focus on leadership in a VUCA world. We talk about how volatility yields to vision, uncertainty yields to understanding, and so on. We talked about his seven spectrums of choice thinking about the future. You see, Bob is a futurist. He looks towards the future and that’s what his book is all about. And of course, this is birthed out of the destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic. We talk about AI. We talk about how purpose is important for individuals and the organization and how belongingness will become an important factor about our workplace. So in this episode today, you’re going to hear all kinds of things. And more importantly, you need to ask yourself as you listen, what do I want my team to look like in the future? How do I want it to operate in the future? That is the questions that we’re here answering today. All right, that’s enough for me. You folks ready for this? All right, let’s do it. Welcome one, welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across the three domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian Army officer with world class guests to bring you the most complete podcast on leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our And with that, let’s get to the show. Bob, sir, welcome to the show today.

Bob Johansen [00:04:08]:

Thank you. Great to be here.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:11]:

So today we’re talking about your co authored book, Office Shock creating Better Futures for Working and Living. And it’s really interesting. I will out of the gate plug it for the listeners out there. Read it. It’s a very interesting read, for sure. I’ll keep that in for fun, for sure. I like your concept and what I’d love for you to talk about right out of the gate to the listener is this concept of the Office first that you guys discuss in there and what is it, where did this come about and how might we start implementing that moving forward?

Bob Johansen [00:04:58]:

Sure. So we talk in the book about the kind of shock where we’ve all gone through with the COVID crisis. Then we define Office shock as unsettling, unsettling change in how, where, when and even why even why we work. And there’s offices the building, there’s office ing the way we work and there’s the Office verse. And the Office verse is essentially the archipelago of possibility around where, when and how we work. And this book is really the first book to look future back at the future of work and offices where the shock came from COVID But there’s no way to go back. Instead we can now go forward to something that’s much better.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:52]:

Yeah, definitely. Like there is no going back from what COVID has done to us. So moving forward, what do we think this much better might be? Or what do you guys believe that this much better might be?

Bob Johansen [00:06:08]:

So the much better is the Office verse where it’s a mix of in person and virtual. It’s a mix of the things that in person meetings are good for. And it is important to note that the in person meetings aren’t going to go away. In fact, the more digital we become, the more we’re going to value in person. But there will be fewer office buildings and the office buildings that are left are going to be designed for what in person meetings are good for. Things like orientation, trust, building renewal, early stage creativity, corporate culture, building. That’s what in person is really good for. So that’ll still be there, but in person will be part of the mix, part of the Office verse mix. And we coined the term office verse because as we were writing it, the term metaverse. We’re based in Silicon Valley. The term metaverse was just being overly commercialized by meta and by others. So we decided not to play that game. But to coin a new word, the Office verse kind of building on office is the building and office ing the process and create an Office verse like a universe, a universe of possibility. And the tools for the tools for office ing are going to get dramatically better over the next decade. And the tools like what we’re using here today, the tools like what we’re using today took 50 years roughly to be an overnight success. And fortunately they were ready when the COVID crisis hit. But now they’re going to get dramatically better over the next decade. So the possibility of blended reality working, which includes in person, but smart in person. And then the blended reality to communicate kind of anytime, any place in ways we haven’t been able to imagine before.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:09]:

Yeah, I’m looking at a diagram that you got here in your book and you probably know what it is. It’s got office first in the middle, and then you have, in one corner, office buildings. Next corner is home offices, shared spaces, and then networked offices. It makes a lot of sense to me when I saw it the first time, like, yes, that is exactly it right there.

Bob Johansen [00:08:37]:

Yeah. And it’s interesting, that map took a long time to develop. The first time I published anything like that was in 1988 when I wrote a book called Groupware. This is my 13th book now. But in 1988, we were just talking about teams working together. And that map, which you see now, more organic, that map was a two by two matrix of time and place. So same time, same place. Is the in person office. Different times, different places. Is the networked office the same place, different times? We’re doing that right now with audio and video or the same place, different times. Could be a factory or a store, but people are there at different times. But the real challenge is anytime, any place. It’s the center. It’s the center of the map. It’s the office verse. And now we can actually make the Office verse in a much more vivid way than was possible even a short time ago. And the good thing, as tragic as COVID was, and it was deeply tragic, it was deeply unfair. But as tragic and unfair as it was, it created this massive opportunity to create better ways of working and indeed better ways of living.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:57]:

I totally couldn’t agree with you more. I often say with challenge there comes opportunity, right?

Bob Johansen [00:10:07]:


Scott McCarthy [00:10:08]:

Right. With every challenge, there’s also an opportunity. COVID was a huge challenge, but it also provided us a lot of opportunities, as you openly just articulated. The challenge I look at from an office first standpoint is as a leader. I’m thinking now with my leader hat on. I currently run a lead, a team of 24 different folk, five different directs. I’m a big proponent of this type of model, by the way. I encourage flexibility. We’re very much I don’t know if you looked at my bio, my background much, but this is my side hustle. I do this in my spare time a little bit that I have by day. I’m a senior Canadian army officer.

Bob Johansen [00:10:55]:


Scott McCarthy [00:10:55]:

We our culture is very much face to face. If it’s not face to face, it’s not worth it. That’s an organizational culture. I’m not necessarily of the same mind. Yes, I value face to face, just as you said. That’s not going to go away. But I kind of like what you said. Let’s embrace what we have and use it appropriately at the right time. So I push my teams to enable them to say, hey, if you need to do a work from home day, that’s cool, we can do this. And sometimes I have people literally around the world doing different jobs. So really embrace this as a leader. It’s difficult to manage though, so watch your advice for the leaders listening here. And they’re like, yes, I like that idea. Yes, we’re working in that. We have office space, but I enjoy letting my people work from home. Some people are on the road and they work at co working spaces or hotels or they might be working with clients. How do we manage all this complexity as a leader?

Bob Johansen [00:11:58]:

It’s really a challenge, but in fact, that’s what I’m focused on is leadership. My PhD is sociology. I kind of grew up with the focus on leading organizations. I’m not a military guy by background, but I just happened to be at the Army War College, the place where the generals go in the US. Army to become generals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I was there the week before 911, and I learned about their concept of the VUCA world in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It ended up changing my life. Scott and I’ve gone back there. Now I bring senior executives group there, and now I’ve been brought in and I teach the new three star generals on their first week in Washington. They read my books and we talk about leadership and the key in these more distributed organizations in the VUCA world, the key is to be very clear where you’re going, but very flexible about how you get there. And, you know, command and control no longer works. You can’t just tell people what to do, but you can be very clear about direction and the military. You all call it commander’s intent or mission command or my favorite term which hasn’t spread yet within the army is flexive command, where you continuously reevaluate who’s in the best position to make which decision at what times, based on situation awareness and based on after action reviews. We call that in the office shock book flexive intent. So the key to leadership in this kind of world and in this kind of organizational model of the office, first is continuous clarity of direction. But then once you’ve created that envelope of clarity, very strong flexibility about how it’s actually executed. And the way to prepare for that is to game it. You have to do gaming. I mean, that’s the origin of war gaming. It’s the way we can simulate in low risk ways that office verse and then practice in those low risk ways.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:04]:

Yeah, that flexive command, flexible leadership idea. In principle, I completely agree with it. Think about it from a military standpoint, I’m like, don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things about we’re going down a military rabbit hole here, but rank is supreme in the military. Sure, he or she who holds the highest rank ultimately and is appointed as the commander ultimately has the final say. Now, that being said, I think there is definitely room for growth and improvement in how we go about listening to our experts and those who have the expertise and those who have, like you said, the after actions that come about and support them and their ideas and stuff. That area we definitely could probably, speaking from my experience, we could definitely improve. But the VUCA world is definitely a term that I use often. It’s definitely where I currently reside in and operate out of very much.

Bob Johansen [00:15:23]:

Yeah. So I flipped the VUCA into a positive in my teaching there now. And what I argue is if you look future back, you see that volatility yields to vision. So over the next decade, vision will get disproportionately rewarded. Uncertainty yields to understanding. So this is a time to be listening to each other and trying to understand what’s going on, not just shouting or behaving in polarized ways the way you so often see. Complexity yields to clarity. And that’s what I call clarity in the business world, what the military usually calls commander’s intent. Again, very clear about direction, very flexible about execution. And then finally, ambiguity yields to agility. We all have to be essentially corporate athletes. We have to be physically, mentally and even spiritually, not necessarily religiously, but spiritually grounded in the face of this really extreme uncertainty. And what we need as leaders, we need clarity, but we can’t have certainty. And I think you’re right, that message, even the military has trouble going all the way down the chain of command. But I’m working with the new three star generals, so there’s only 42 of them at a time in the US army. They completely get it. They completely get the need for great clarity of direction. But of course they depend on the politicians for that. The commander in chief is a politician. So what they find when they get to Washington and again, I’m not an expert in the present. I don’t talk about politics. I’m focused ten years ahead, but I can’t help but observe in Washington nowadays, I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but in Washington nowadays there’s a lot of politicians from both parties who are very certain but not very clear. And that just kind of freaks out the military people because they know the dangers of certainty in a VUCA world because certainty is brittle and brittle breaks. But you need that clarity and it’s got to be clear all the way down in the ranks in order to work.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:34]:

Yeah, definitely. Clarity is key. I fully support that. I remember when I was a squadron commander of 200 members and it was constant pushing, trying to push that clear message all the way down. And as I walked around talking to my folks and talking with them and seeing if, one, they were getting a message that I was really important out, and two, making sure that the telephone game wasn’t played so much.

Bob Johansen [00:18:02]:

Exactly, the telephone game. You don’t have the clarity and the word keeps getting confused. But in the Office Shock book, what we do is introduce Seven Spectrums of Choice, and I’d like to talk about those as we think future back about the office first, because it links very well with how do you lead in this world and what we found. And this is a two year project. My co authors, one of them is an architect, a workplace architect and a digital architect, and then that’s Joseph Press. Christine Bullen, the second co author, is an information systems professor, so she’s more at the digital end. And in this two year project, which was originally supported by a very creative office furniture company in Switzerland, USM, and what they asked us to do was to write a book that would start a new conversation. So we look Future back, but we’re not here to tell people what to do. We just say where a lot of the conversation is, when can we go back to the office? We say, well, that’s a good question, but for us it’s six out of seven. And the first question is, why an office at all? So we’ve identified in the book Seven Spectrums of Choice, beginning with purpose, why in office at all? Then outcomes, what are the outcome you’re seeking, then? What are the climate impacts? Because as Futurists, we realize that looking Future back from ten years ahead, if we don’t get climate right in the next decade, we’re in big trouble and nobody wins on a dying planet. So climate is number three on our list, and these are in order. Then we ask, with whom do you want to office? What’s the spectrum of belonging? Then we ask, what’s the spectrum of Augmentation? And I think we should come back and talk about this because it’s really interesting how over the next decade we’ll be able to be augmented, not replaced in the artificial intelligence sense. I think that’s going to be more limited than most people think, but we will all be augmented. So if I’m still writing big time books ten years from now, I’m going to have to be augmented. So we used GPT-3 to write chapter eight on Augmentation, and we have a chat bot now for Office Shock, where you can actually it’s public chatbot. We’ll put it in your link for the listeners. You can actually go and ask our chat bot the same questions you would ask me or Joseph or Christine. Then we get to the time place question. What’s the spectrum from office buildings to the office verse? And it isn’t a binary choice, it’s a spectrum. And then finally agility. What’s? The spectrum of Agility. How do you hold it all together in a VUCA world?

Scott McCarthy [00:20:55]:

Yeah, I enjoyed your Seven spectrums and going through them. I definitely want to go back to what you talked about, Augmentation. I’m interested in that, for sure. But purpose is so important to me.

Bob Johansen [00:21:09]:

It is?

Scott McCarthy [00:21:11]:

Yeah. I feel like we need to hit purpose. I don’t feel like we need to go through every set, each one. But I definitely want to dive deeper into purpose and looking forward, because the counterargument that I hear, not necessarily being told to me, but in my head, that I foresee coming out, is how do you have a unified purpose when your people aren’t unified in location?

Bob Johansen [00:21:42]:

Yeah. So purpose is really important. And what I called earlier, clarity or what the military calls commander’s intent, that’s purpose embodied in an organization or embodied in a policy or embodied in a mission. You need that. But also research that came up during the COVID crisis from the Blue Zones Project. We talk about this in the Office Shock book. The research concluded that purpose driven people are happier, they’re healthier, and they live up to seven years longer. Purpose driven people who work for purpose driven organizations are happier, healthier, they live up to 14 years longer, and the companies or the organizations perform better. So purpose is really important at the organizational level, but purpose is also important in the individual level. And as you raise Scott, the purposes have to be aligned. So you don’t want to have a bunch of people who are purpose driven but scattered and not organized around the same purpose. You want to have purpose driven people who have a similar and preferably the same clarity of direction that they’re all pursuing.

Scott McCarthy [00:23:08]:

Do you ever feel alone, lost, or you’re just not good enough as a leader? You know what? You’re not alone. Many of us struggle with those feelings, especially when we’re new to leadership or facing new challenges in our roles. But you don’t have to go along. It’s where our leader, Growth Mastermind, comes in. Our community is specifically designed for leaders who are looking to grow, develop, and, most importantly, thrive. Our weekly curated content, group, coaching calls, and a safe and supportive community is where you can connect with other leaders who are facing similar challenges. Whether you’re dealing with imposter syndrome, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of leadership, or simply looking to connect with a community of like minded individuals, leader Growth Mastermind is here to support you. So why not join us? Take that first step becoming the leader you were meant to be. Visit Mastermind to learn more and sign up and join our community today. Together, we can grow, learn, and achieve our full potential leaders. And again, that is lead. Don’t Forward slash mastermind. Can’t wait to see you there. And now back to the show. Yeah, I’m definitely a huge proponent for alignment and making sure things are aligned and succinct and synchronized, I should say together. And to me, that underlying purpose definitely is key. It has to be set and everyone has to be on board with it. Do we all have to be in the same location at the exact same time to achieve?

Bob Johansen [00:25:14]:

No, I don’t think so. As long as you have belief in the same purpose and commitment to the same person, physical distance is a kind of challenge. But it’s a challenge that can be overcome. And it was overcome long before electronic media. If you go back to the early days of the Jesuits, for example, networks of Jesuit priests, pretty much wherever they were all around the world. And they didn’t always do good things, but they were always aligned. And they embodied the same values and they embodied the same principles. Very organized, but with very little communication. But it was because they had such strong shared beliefs that led to shared values, that led to a clarity of direction within which there was a lot of flexibility. And again, I’m certainly not advocating everything they did. They did a lot of bad things too, but they were very organized without electronic connection.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:16]:

Yeah, for sure. And that’s a great counter to the counter. I love it.

Bob Johansen [00:26:22]:


Scott McCarthy [00:26:25]:

Leaders often focus on outcomes. They’re looking for results, their supervisors are looking for results, so on and so forth. So in this office versus world, how are outcomes a bit different and are they different? How do leaders actually go after getting the outcomes when it’s such a flute environment from this standpoint?

Bob Johansen [00:26:50]:

Yeah, it’s really so interesting. So purpose is about intent. But you’re right, outcome is about results. What are the results now in a VUCA world, in a time like we’re in right now, the spectrum here goes from you might think of it as shareholder value to stakeholder value, or you might think of it from profit to prosperity. In the general sense. There’s more conversation, and I think there’s more in Canada than there is even in the US. Which is more market based, I think. But the conversation is about not just shareholder value, but social value, community value. And it’s very interesting. With the decline in office buildings, there’s a real challenge. We’re based in Silicon Valley and close to San Francisco. San Francisco is now in danger of a kind of economic doom loop. It’s being called by an NYU professor where with fewer office buildings and smaller commercial interests supporting those office buildings where it’s hard to keep the business going, the economic cycle which used to be driven by the tech industry, now the tech industry is in layoff mode and in economic challenge mode. And the challenge is how is that going to come back? So what’s the spectrum of outcomes there? From shareholder value to stakeholder value? There’s a lot more flex in the VUCA world. There’s a lot more flex in the office first because when you’re in a war for talent, in spite of the layoffs in the tech industry, the best people are still finding jobs. It’s just a question of matchmaking and mix making. And the best people want flexibility. So you’ve got to have that built in in some way. It doesn’t, again, replace offices, but there will be fewer offices, and it doesn’t rigidly set outcome goals. But there is a strong tendency in this kind of emerging VUCA world, a strong tendency to ask questions of social value, not just of shareholder value, to ask questions of equity, not just of profitability for the extreme rich. And there’s kind of a challenge of that rich poor gap. And unfortunately, as futurists, we see that getting worse, that the rich poor gap is getting worse, getting wider. We do have a big project at the institute now called the Equitable Enterprise Project, which is exploring how enterprises could be more fair and more equitable. But it’s clearly a challenge. But in the office first. There’s more flexibility in how these models might play out and a revisiting of some very old concepts, like cooperatives, for example, or like partnerships. Or like I wrote a book a while back called The Reciprocity Advantage, where you’re essentially win win formulas to give things away in the belief that you’ll get back even more in return. I think those kind of models become more feasible and more economically viable than they were in the more rigid economic structures and the more rigid kind of architecture and real estate world.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:15]:

It’s fascinating stuff. I literally could just sit here and listen to you talk about thank you. All podcasts, all podcasts along. I don’t have anything to follow up with on that. It’s just so well said. That’s the reason why you have the PhD. And I’m just the podcast host here. I want to flip over to Belonging because I don’t know if you know the work of author named Tim Clark, but he’s literally the most do you know Tim?

Bob Johansen [00:30:48]:

I don’t know him personally, but I know the work.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:51]:

So he’s the guest. I referenced the most so far in this podcast, and it’s four stages of psychological safety and stage one, belonger. Safety being the baseline here, and you bring it up in your book as well in the spectrum of belonging and the need we do for people to belong and feel connected with the organization as a whole. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on that and how leaders can leverage that moving forward.

Bob Johansen [00:31:25]:

Yeah, I think his work is very important, and we kind of referenced that back in time because we look ten years ahead and 50 years back. And if you go about 50 years back, the psychologist exploring belonging was Abraham Maslow, and he created something called the hierarchy of needs, which safety and belongingness were at the base and self actualization was at the top, and he imagined it as a pyramid. During the COVID shutdown, another psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman, wrote a book called Transcend that revisited the Maslow classic work. And what he said is, yes, it’s a hierarchy. Yes, it begins with safety and belongingness, but it’s not a rigid pyramid, it’s more like a rocking boat on a stormy sea. So safety and belonging is harder to keep balanced, but it is kind of a pyramid, it’s a sailboat kind of image and you kind of work your way up the pyramid to the self actualization, but everything is rocking and rolling as you go. Now, if you think future back diversity is going to be everywhere, that’s just an inevitable. So we’re going to have more diversity, that’s going to be harder to categorize. And it isn’t just racial and gender and ethnic diversity, it’s diversity in ways people thinking, it’s diversity in where people are going to be locating. There’s lots of diversity out there. So the challenge is how do you create a sense of belonging in an increasingly distributed world? And that gets back to clarity. It’s not only clarity of your financial intent, it’s clarity of your cultural values, it’s clarity of your sense of belongingness, your sense of supporting each other. So belongingness becomes even more important. What’s the glue that holds you together, that creates that sense of belonging? But the world is going to get increasingly diverse and in a real sense that’s inevitable. What we have to do is figure out ways to build that sense of belonging and kind of avoid the trap we’re in now, which is polarized views kind of us versus them, which is a clear collision course we’re on right now. The kind of us versus them. Unless we find the common ground in that distributed space, it’s just very hard to do things together.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:01]:

Yeah, the polarization and the diversion, it’s everywhere. You’ve seen it massively in the United States just because of how much focus you guys have down there. But we’ve seen it up here, north too. The trucker convoy of a year ago, that was a huge polarizing event. The gap, the widening of the gap in political alliances is getting bigger and bigger. More people are going to the extremes, left or right. We have a multiple party system, not just a two party system. So there is some centers and stuff like this, but you see the support for them kind of dwindling per se. In work too, in the office space, you have people who don’t believe in remote work and all this stuff and then you got people who are like super, like this is the way the future has to be. And multiple just divergence in terms of ideology, of how things should operate and work and it’s just getting worse, better.

Bob Johansen [00:35:10]:

That’s right. And this is a big leadership challenge, is to find that common ground. I did a trilogy of books beginning after 911 about what it’ll take to lead in a VUCA world. And the first one was on skills called Leader Makes the Future. And one of those skills. Was commons creating. How do you find the common ground and that’s so important? Find the common ground and then develop shared clarity around that common ground. It seems to me that’s the most important leadership skill now is finding that common ground and then organizing clarity around that.

Scott McCarthy [00:35:49]:

Common ground. Kind of goes back to the beginning of with the with the purpose. Right. You’re not uniting behind the purpose.

Bob Johansen [00:35:54]:

No, definitely. Definitely. This is not it’s not new. It’s just more difficult in a VUCA world.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:01]:

Absolutely. The next spectrum I definitely want to hit is the augmentation one. We’re in a rolled now. Chat GDT GPT four. Have a hard time saying that. Previous podcasts, I mentioned it a few times, and I have a hard time saying the last part because I’m a car nut, and there was a model of a car that had GTP into it, pontiac Grand Prix GTP. And it was my dream car for a while, the car I wanted to get. So that’s why it stuck in my head. GTP was GPT. Anyway, that’s out here now. We are seeing more and more AI. I’m using AI for this show to develop this show. It’s all around us now. Sure, but to me, could it just be the tip? Could we just be seeing the tip?

Bob Johansen [00:36:57]:

It is just the tip, but it also goes a long ways back. The term artificial intelligence was coined in 1956 at the famous Dartmouth Conference with some of the fathers of AI, marvin Minsky and Herb Simon and Ed Feigenbaum and just brilliant people. They made a bad choice. Unfortunately, with the beginning of this great work, they thought about calling it augmented intelligence and instead decided to call it artificial intelligence. And I’ve been studying emerging tech for a long time. That’s the worst word to describe an emerging technology I’ve ever encountered. It slowed up the whole evolution of symbolic computing by at least a decade. So in the book, we don’t talk about AI, although we reference it because you have to. But we call it augmented intelligence. And what we say is, over the next decade, the real challenge is to figure out what humans do best and what computers do best. So the things that humans do best, we need to keep for ourselves and figure out how to do that. But then we have to ask ourselves, how are we going to be augmented? So when I was writing chapter eight on the spectrum of Augmentation, I used GPT-3 at that stage to draft it. And I love using Chat Bots kind of large language models to do first drafts, because when I write books, the hardest thing is the first draft. I like doing the outline. I love thinking it through. I like the editing and the finalization. I hate writing the first draft of the chapters, but chat bots really help you do a first draft. It’s not the last place you go. It’s not automating me or authors. It’s augmenting in the sense of helping you get started. So after we did Office Shock, we created a chat bot around Office Shock now and your listeners can go and play with the chatbot, as I mentioned earlier. So I think we’re the first book to have its own chatbot. It’s isolated in the sense that its only knowledge base is our book. So it’s not connected to the Internet. So a number of the issues being discussed are not relevant to this particular kind of augmentation. We’re just talking about how can we augment and share our content.

Scott McCarthy [00:39:31]:

It’s amazing. And I love the process you have. Yeah, you know what I mean? To me it makes so much sense. We’re not going to replace humans. We’re going to use the tool for what the tool has been developed for. That’s right.

Bob Johansen [00:39:50]:

And there will be some real challenges. I think the pause that happened last week among computer scientists saying voting for a pause in development of things like GPT Four, I think those kinds of AIS connected to the Internet, there’s a lot of mysteries in that. And I think it is worthwhile to pause and think about concepts like sentience awareness, concepts like, is it possible for some kind of AI to have its own purpose separate from what it’s being prompted to do now? That’s a really interesting question and it could have disturbing answers. So I think it’s right to be thinking about that. But at the same time, the more immediate question, like within the next decade, the more immediate question to me is how do we want to augment ourselves? And ultimately we’re all going to be augmented. So I think in a real sense, to get back to leadership, every good leader is going to be a cyberg. If you think ten years ahead, that’s just a fact of life. We’re all going to be augmented in some way. The question is how?

Scott McCarthy [00:41:04]:

Yeah, I definitely agree. I definitely can see that, for sure. The final spectrum I’d like to hit on the show is the Agility spectrum. I personally like the ideology of agile, agile theory and stuff like this. I believe that is part of the way of future, too. But you also here I’m looking at it and it says, how will you increase your ability to be agile and resilient? Which is of interest because to me, both leaders definitely need to be both of those, especially moving forward in such a complex world.

Bob Johansen [00:41:48]:


Scott McCarthy [00:41:48]:

Can you speak on that for us?

Bob Johansen [00:41:50]:

Sure. So the beginning is yourself. Your body has to be agile. So that’s what I mean. You have to be a corporate athlete. Physical fitness is not just optional. It’s required. I think in my book, The New Leadership Literacies, which is the second book in the Leadership trilogy, I talk about creating and sustaining positive energy. The only way to do that is to be physically, mentally and spiritually fit. So we have to just figure out a way to do it. And there’s no one right way to do it, but you got to do it. And it’s a daily discipline in terms of how you do it. There’s a lot of modern neuroscience in the Office Shock book. We know more about our brains now than we ever have known, and that knowledge about neuroscience is much more practical. So, for example, we talk about in the book how our brains. Now, we know this from brain scans. Our brains are wired for stories. If they don’t hear stories, they make them up. They make them up. So every great leader has to be a great storyteller. We just know that. And now neuroscience has proven that we know how to keep ourselves brain healthy. We know that our brains are always pushing us toward certainty, even though we can’t have it. We know we have to digest information in smaller chunks and have processing time. We know that now. So there’s just lessons that we’ve learned about physical fitness and about mental fitness and by spiritual. I went to divinity school. I’m not an advocate of any brand of religion, but I think some forms of religion are very constructive, some are very dangerous. But you need something that grounds you spiritually, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a religion, but you need something that gives you that spiritual grounding. So to be agile, it all starts with yourself. Now, the systematic approaches like the agile methodology, those are great, but they’re moreiented towards efficiency. What you want is also, in addition, the kind of agile ways of keeping the Office Burst connected. And those have to be more dynamic and ways of keeping that clarity, spreading that clarity and then linking it in ways so when the VUCA world hits, you’re not just efficiency oriented, you’re also resilient so you’re recovering quickly. We saw during COVID our supply chains were often too efficiency oriented and not effective enough. They weren’t fast enough to recover.

Scott McCarthy [00:44:32]:

Yeah, lots of great stuff in there. A lot of great things for leaders to consider for a listener out there. Like, seriously, I don’t do this too often, but I’m doing it tonight and saying that definitely recommend you grab a copy of this book and I’ll be sure to throw a link in the show notes for it.

Bob Johansen [00:44:53]:

Thank you. Robot too.

Scott McCarthy [00:44:57]:

I’ll definitely put a link in the show notes for the listeners out there, canadian and American as predominant listeners for the rest of the world. Sorry, please just change your country because I can’t list all 100 and I think it’s like up to around 150 countries right now listening to this podcast.

Bob Johansen [00:45:15]:

That’s great. And I’ll share a discount code for you that is a global code.

Scott McCarthy [00:45:20]:

Oh, wow. That’d be amazing. Bob, I love this conversation. As obviously I said I loved your book, your work, but all good things come to an end. Before we wrap up here, I do got a couple last questions for you. First being a question I asked all the guests here at the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast. And that’s, according to you, what makes a great leader?

Bob Johansen [00:45:46]:

I think the great leader to me is strong but humble. So it’s the combination of strength and humility. It’s the combination of clarity with flexibility, it’s the combination of aggression with the ability to be calm.

Scott McCarthy [00:46:10]:

Hear a lot of balance in there, if I was to summarize what you just said, which would be balanced with one word, but you said a lot of great things that balance doesn’t do justice. So thank you for that.

Bob Johansen [00:46:24]:

But I think balance is a good word. The other related word is navigation. There’s a lot of things in leadership that are stable and enduring. There’s a lot of things that are changing and very flexible, but there’s a lot of choice built in. So I like to use navigation metaphors a lot when I talk about leadership.

Scott McCarthy [00:46:45]:

That’s great. Add on follow questions, show how can people find you follow you shameless plug. It’s all about you now, sir.

Bob Johansen [00:46:53]:

So I’m based at Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. We’ll put the link in there. It’s based in Palo Alto. It’s the longest running futures think tank in the world. And we’re an independent nonprofit, so we do training programs all around the world and virtually and all my books are listed there. So it’s institute for the future.

Scott McCarthy [00:47:16]:

Awesome. And for you, the listener, it’s easy, it’s in the podcast description. Just go to two 60 260 and the links there. Bob, my friend, thank you again for taking time out of your schedule and jumping on with us today.

Bob Johansen [00:47:30]:

Thank you, happy to do it. And thanks for all you’re doing.

Scott McCarthy [00:47:33]:

Scott and that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, thank you for supporting the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast. But you know what you could do to truly support the podcast. And no, that’s not leaving a rating and review, it’s simply helping a friend. And that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them. If you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level, whether that’s within themselves, their teams or their organization, so do that. Help me help a friend win win all around. And hey, you look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app and then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more, there’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, whether that’s for yourself, your team or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe subscribe to the Show of the subscribe. Until next time. Lead. Don’t boss. And thanks for coming out. Take care now. Bye.