top of page
  • Rick Bonetti

Leadership Mindsets, Literacies and Skills for an Uncertain World

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Futurist Bob Johansen, who was President of The Institute For The Future (IFTF) from 1996 to 2004says:

"We are in a time of accelerating, disruptive change." ~ Bob Johansen

Bob is the author of several books aimed at organizational leaders including:

An excellent written summary of his 2021 zoom presentation (above) to Founding Fuel is found here.

Notes from Johansen's books and other videos:

We live in a VUCA world that offers both threat and opportunity:


Volatile               Vision

Uncertain           Understanding

Complex             Clarity

Ambiguity           Agility

  1. Maker Instincts

  2. Clarity

  3. Dilemma Flipping

  4. Immersive Learning Ability

  5. Bio-empathy

  6. Constructive Depolarizing

  7. Quiet Transparency

  8. Rapid Prototyping

  9. Smart-Mob Organizing

  10. Commons Creating

  11. Future Immersion for Leadership Development

  12. Learning the Ten Future Leadership Skills Yourself

Notable quotes from Bob:

  • Forecasting - The purpose of forecasting is to provoke, not to predict.

  • Listening for the future is hard work. Leaders have to listen through the noise in a VUCA world."

  • "Leaders need to be simple, but not simplistic."

  • "The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed."

  • "It sometimes takes 30 years for things to be an “overnight success.”

  • "The global rich-poor gap is getting bigger, faster."

  • "Leaders need great clarity about where we are going, but also great flexibility in getting there."

  • "Leaders of the future must be digitally based – blending digital with the physical world."

  • Three Step Process

    1. Foresight is preparing your mind.

    2. Insight is discerning and those discerning questions are really dilemas.

    3. Action – Faith lives between Insight and Action!

  • "Smart mob organizing (using social media as well as face to face) is the wave of the future. Today’s social media is now rather trivial. It’s a great time to get into it – but don’t try to catch up, leapfrog! Go for tomorrow’s Facebook and Twitter."

  • "Fail Often; Fail Early; Fail Cheaply."

  • "Leaders will thrive in the space between judging too soon (the classic mistake of the problem solver and the fundamentalist) and deciding too late (those who are passive.)"

  • "Augmented Reality is our future in the upcoming decade. Cloud-served supercomputing will have no computer, no mouse and be operated all by gesture. Your only choice is what filter."

  • Old Marketing - Old fashioned notions of consumers; marketing; and advertising are all obsolete. The user in the future is going to filter those out.

  • Virtual Reality - a virtual overlay using geo-coding and tagging

  • Digital Physical Blends - We will have blended realities and continuous filtering.

  • Body Hacking - media will be blended in with our bodies and our lifestyles.

  • The Cloud - We are moving from today’s internet to tomorrows cloud.

  • Digital Youth - If you are older than 16 you are off unless you are on (digitally connected.) If you are younger than 16 you are on unless you are off.

  • Digital natives are going to leapfrog with the kids and military training techniques. Look for what you have in common, not what you are polarized about.

  • Create a "Story of the Future" that provokes insight into the future.

Sources of provocation:

  1. The Vuca World

  2. Extreme Climate Variability

  3. The Rich / Poor Gap

  4. Personal Empowerment

  5. Grassroots Economics

  6. Smart Networking

  7. Polarizing Extremes

  8. High-Impact Religions

  9. Health Insecurity

  10. Body Hacking

  11. Boomers Reinvent Aging

  12. Digital Youth

  13. Urban Wilderness

  14. Digital Physical Blend

  15. Dilemmas of Difference

Three Big External Future Forces

1. The next big economic driver will be the “global well-being economy” (meaning and faith will be core to well-being). This is more than sick care. We are not very good at wellness health and well-being. This coming decade will be led by biology, physical, social, community, and spiritual well-being. Neuro science and happiness will be understood better. The next decade the brain gets practical – i.e. Last spring when the new food pyramid was introduced, Dan Siegle developed The Healthy Mind Platter: Sleep Time; Physical Time; Focus Time; Time in; Down Time; Play Time and Connecting.

2. Digital natives (16 years of age and less in 2012) will create new practices of engagement through gaming. Theological education will need reverse-mentoring from the digital natives and create intense immersive learning experiences.

  • Generation - is now about 6 years (if you are 25 or less) … AND SHRINKING.

  • Digital Natives - by 2021, anyone who is 25 or less – rich or poor will be a digital native! The younger you are, the stronger the effect.

  • Disruption in the pattern. The mind of the digital native will work differently (e.g. “continuous partial attention”) - but we don’t yet know just how differently.

  • Frustration - Unless the rich/poor gap improves a LARGE number of digital natives will be very frustrated - they will be very connected and able to see the very rich.

  • Games “are obstacles that we volunteer to overcome” Jane McGonigal – Reality is Broken –  engagement at the moment of the epic win. The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.

  • Fun is not the enemy of work – this is what an immersive learning experience is.

  • Reverse mentoring - Church youth groups today should be structured around digital natives teaching adults about gaming.

3. Reciprocity-Based Innovation (amplified by the cloud) will change the nature of economic and social engagement. Reciprocity will be the currency of theological education and faith communities.

  • Transactions - the currency of the internet is transactions;

  • Reciprocity – the currency of the cloud is reciprocity - giving things away in the trust (faith) you will get more back. The failed rollout strategy for the Kinect became an example of involuntary reciprocity-based innovation.

The Logic of Giving and Reciprocity  

"The happiest people are those who give; the happiest of the happiest are those who forgive. The least happy are those who carry a grudge." ~ Kelly Traver – Healthiest You.

External Future Forces and the Church

When you have the time, check out this great one hour video on Vimeo where Bob spoke to seminary students at Pacific School of Religion in 2012 on the topic of “External Future Forces,” to help them prepare to become future leaders.

A Book of Provocation, was written for the Episcopal Church by IFTF. It highlights the 15 sources of provocation for the church (listed above) from a custom ten year forecast map. For each provocation the authors suggested dilemmas that are likely to be raised for churches if their forecast comes to pass. They suggested discerning questions for church members to consider; members are encouraged to generate their own discerning questions – based on individual reactions to this forecast for the next decade.:

Steve Brimmer uses future scenarios to stimulate conversations about four alternate, possible Church Futures.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page