Story by Larissa Wurm
Photo by Luke Nankivell
Johansen, who has been considered the country’s leading futurist, was introduced by Drake University President David Maxwell.
The two met years earlier at a presentation for the American Council on Education.
“He had a transformative impact on how I view the future of education,” Maxwell said. “He changed how I view my role as the president of a university.”
Johansen also came to Drake one year ago to see the Board of Trustees and help with its strategic plan, which was just recently released.
“You’re in for an exciting, provocative, challenging and fascinating evening,” Maxwell said.
Johansen, who was giving his fourth talk of the day, started his lecture with music that reminds him of the future.
“I have a future playlist,” Johansen said. “I collect songs that remind me of the future.”
Upon the music starting, Johansen said, “I like to live my life 10 years ahead. I’m not interested in the present.”
As the music continued to play, the futurist paused before saying, “The future you anticipated has been cancelled.”
Johansen first introduced the concept of the, “VUCA World: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous”, and the idea of “digital natives,” which are people 17 or under in 2013.
These people are given that title because they were born into a technological world, where most people read on iPads and Kindles versus real magazines.
Digital natives are different from those who have had to adapt to technology as it changes.
In a hand-out distributed before the presentation on the VUCA world, digital natives are the “first to become adults in the age of social media and cloud-served computing” and “brains and behavior are likely to be different, for example, ‘continuous partial attention.’”
Ten or more years from now, Johansen said the world will move from “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” to “vision, understanding, clarity and agility.” This will also be a world of “cloud-served supercomputing,” which refers to “anything that happens on the net, in the cloud and beyond devices and digital overlays in the physical world.”
Johansen used a series of video clips for his lecture, showing advancements in technology and what the future of our world may look like. Clips included gaming technology advancements and how it can be used for our everyday lives – cooking, meeting up with friends, getting dressed and health issues. These advancements combine the digital world with the physical.
Demonstrating leadership in the future, Johansen used the example of virtual choir, complete with a video. The virtual choir was a number of people, whom had never met before, meeting online to sing music, lead by a conductor.
Johansen said leaders in the future, like the conductor, will be learning, changing and adapting.
“Leaders will conduct their own virtual choir,” Johansen said.
The futurist ended his lecture with the ten future leadership skills: maker instinct, clarity, dilemma flipping, immersive learning ability, bio-empathy, constructive depolarizing, quiet transparency, rapid prototyping, smart mob organizing and commons creating.
“I hope I’ve scared you a little with this lecture, but empowered you a lot,” Johansen said.
Tom Westbrook, professor and chair of the leadership concentration, and Jan Wise, the director of student leadership programs, helped bring Johansen to campus to talk about his book and the future.
“There is a leadership reading group that reads one book over the summer, and after reading his book, we wanted to try to bring (Johansen) on board,” Wise said. “It’s scary and fascinating to see all that is happening and how rapidly everything keeps moving.”
Wise said there is one question she did not get the chance to ask.
“In a society of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ who is going to have access to that kind of technology?” Wise said.
The Don V. Adams Leadership Institute, the Office of the President and the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) concentration worked with a number of groups in Des Moines to help bring Johansen to campus to help with costs.
Johansen’s lecture is based off his book, “Leaders Make the Future.”