Full-Spectrum Thinking by Bob Johansen
How to Escape Boxes in a Post-Categorical Future
Leading futurist Bob Johansen shows how a new way of thinking, enhanced by new technologies, will help leaders break free of limiting labels and see new gradients of possibility in a chaotic world.
The future will get even more perplexing over the next decade, and we are not ready. The dilemma is that we're restricted by rigid categorical thinking that freezes people and organizations in neatly defined boxes that often are inaccurate or obsolete. Categories lead us toward certainty but away from clarity, and categorical thinking moves us away from understanding the bigger picture. Sticking with this old way of thinking and seeing isn't just foolish, it's dangerous.
Full-spectrum thinking is the ability to seek patterns and clarity outside, across, beyond, or maybe even without any boxes or categories while resisting false certainty and simplistic binary choices. It reveals our commonalities that are hidden in plain view. Bob Johansen lays out the core concepts of full-spectrum thinking and reveals the role that digital media—including gameful engagement, big-data analytics, visualization, blockchain, and machine learning—will play in facilitating and enhancing it. He offers examples of broader spectrums and new applications in a wide range of areas that will become possible first, then mandatory. This visionary book provides powerful ways to make sense of new opportunities and see the world as it really is.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Read more about The Leadership Trilogy.
Bob Johansen has been helping organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future for more than thirty years. The Reciprocity Advantage is Bob’s tenth book. He is a frequent keynote speaker for large groups and leads a wide range of workshops with rising-star leaders.
As a distinguished fellow at IFTF, Bob draws on his training in the social sciences and his extensive experience at the edges of multiple disciplines as he interacts with top leaders of business, government, and nonprofit organizations to encourage thoughtful consideration of the long-term future. His most recent book, the second edition of Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain Age, has contributions from the Center for Creative Leadership. Connect Consulting Group named this book on change management and leadership as the best business book of 2012. Bob has done workshops based on his books at a wide range of corporations, including P&G, Kellogg’s, Disney, Intel, Walmart, Syngenta, Johnson & Johnson, UPS, McKinsey, General Mills, and McDonald’s. Major universities, nonprofits, and churches also use his books.
Born in Geneva, Illinois, Bob holds a BS from the University of Illinois, where he attended on a basketball scholarship and channeled his unrealistic desire to be a professional athlete. He received a PhD from Northwestern University, where he was introduced to the Internet (then called the ARPANet) as it was just coming to life. In addition, Bob has a divinity school degree from Crozer Theological Seminary, where he began his lifelong interest in world religions, ethics, and things spiritual. Bob was the president of the Institute for the Future for eight years and founded its program of research on emerging technology horizons.
Bob is married to Robin B. Johansen, an attorney practicing constitutional law. They have two children and three grandchildren.
Listen to Bob Johansen discuss the ideas of Full-Spectrum Thinking
with IFTF Editorial Director Mark Frauenfelder.
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Watch Bob speak with Cintrifuse.
Watch Bob Johansen on a panel with the NeuroLeadership Institute.
Bob Johansen for Full Spectrum Thinking: An Introduction to the Leadership Trilogy
“This is a great read that energizes me. Leaders must engage with humility and courage to set clear direction—but look to their teams for the best execution across a spectrum of possibilities. Right or wrong is a fallacy that must be replaced by opportunities to dynamically decide, test, and adapt.”
—Jason Field, President and CEO, W. L. Gore & Associates
“Full-Spectrum Thinking is just the right book at just the right time, giving us new tools, new ways of sense-making, and new hope. This will be the book I hand out to everyone who works with me, as well as to friends and family.”
—Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University
“Design thinking will blend with futures thinking in the near future. The mindset of Full-Spectrum Thinking will be needed to leap beyond the narrow categories of thought that constrain much of today's innovation.”
—Tim Brown, Chair, IDEO
“When confronted with the type of volatility and uncertainty we are facing today—what the ancient ones called mystery—humans have always turned to transcendence. Johansen's Full-Spectrum Thinking embodies in new terms this ancient practice of thinking beyond categories to discern a way forward that rejects the deceptive allure of certainty.”
—David Vásquez-Levy, President, Pacific School of Religion
“Bob Johansen has once again defined what it means to be an ‘original contributor.' The insights and suggested responses contained in Full-Spectrum Thinking define a unique way to analyze and respond to our rapidly changing world. I will recommend this book to every board member and executive in my network.”
—James I. Cash, Founder, The Cash Catalyst, LLC, and Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School
“You must read this book. It comes from a mind trained to live ten years in the future and a heart eager to get us there safely.”
—Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army
“The future has no map, especially in this era of rapid change. Agile open-mindedness is essential to navigate it, and Bob Johansen's Full-Spectrum Thinking lays out a clear path for how to get there. For starters, reject rigid categories that ‘coerce,' ‘keep us in cages,' and ‘move us away from understanding the bigger picture.' Seek clarity and context because the emerging future will be one with fluid roles and identities. Leaders will need to be ‘very clear about where they want to go but very flexible about how they get there.' This insightful book is for all those interested in enhancing their own agility in how they think about and face the future.”
—Mary Kay Magistad, creator and host of the Whose Century Is It? podcast and former China correspondent, NPR and PRI/BBC's The World
“Classic departmental-based organizational thinking is the most prolific barrier to enterprise value maximization. Full-Spectrum Thinking empowers our holistic view of the consumer that is fundamental to personalized guest experience creation.”
—John Padgett, Chief Innovation Officer, Carnival Corporation
“In his books, his workshops, and the countless friendships like ours that he's built over the past thirty years, Bob has helped a generation of leaders better anticipate future challenges and opportunities. He's done it again with Full-Spectrum Thinking, which provides the framework to evaluate new opportunities, experiences, and people through a broader lens. Leaders concerned about future-proofing their organizations should read this book.”
—Scott Price, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, UPS
“Bob Johansen continues to demonstrate thought leadership in preparing for a more positive future. His new Full-Spectrum Thinking extends our Army War College Strategic Thinking Framework. In doing so, it requires our leaders to resist the certainty lure of heuristics, actively challenge categorizing assumptions, and seek greater inclusiveness in generating better possibilities for the future.”
—Charles D. Allen, Professor of Leadership and Cultural Studies, US Army War College
“A future-back mindset and full-spectrum thinking are needed urgently to create a vision and strategy that is not stuck in the tired categories of the past.”
—Mark W. Johnson, cofounder of Innosight
“The process of naming nature, or communicating it through language at all, involves
fragmenting what is essentially an undivided evolutionary continuum. Full-Spectrum Thinking is a critical plea for humans to think more fluidly, beyond the boxes and labels, to overcome the urge to reduce, simplify, and fragment nature.”
—James Prosek, artist, writer, and naturalist
“Bob Johansen is proposing a fundamental shift in how we form our shared stories of identity, organizations, and world vision. He is applying the science of the story to the art of communication.”
—Kendall Haven, story consultant, author, and master storyteller
“The wisdom of Full-Spectrum Thinking is enduring, but the new tools will make it scalable globally.”
—Robert A. McDonald, Eighth Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, and retired Chairman, President, and CEO, Procter & Gamble