Bill Jensen has done it again. With the release of his latest book titled “Future Strong,” he paves the way for a brighter future in business, with a handbook designed to arm individuals with the resources and knowledge they need to be successful leaders and innovators through the next decade and beyond. As an accomplished thought leader, Jensen will take you on a journey like no other, where living and dreaming outside of your comfort zone will become your daily mantra.
Jenson takes a unique and unconventional approach to really pull back the layers to uncover the reader’s passion and to find out, if you don’t already know, what really makes you tick. The result is an unstoppable driving force that sends your hurtling towards success. Through his well thought-out methodology, he creates the possibility of real, genuine sustainability in business, as he equips his reader with the knowledge and tools you will need to face the uncertainty and volatility of the future. He does this through a series of questions that get you to focus your time, energy, money, and resources on what is most important right now, so that you can become “Future Strong.”
Many of the insights found in “Future Strong” come from the rigorous and extensive research Jensen has done for his 2014 ‘Future of Work Study,’ where he and his research team have gathered information through interviews and surveys, from thousands of people from all over the world, and from all walks of life. He then combines this information with his ongoing ‘Search for a Simpler Way Study’ which includes data from over a million interviews and surveys, asking people “what their dreams for the future and the future of work looked like,” “what kind of tough choices leaders are going to need to make, right now, to lead us into the future,” “how the employer-employee relationship must be radically re-imagined,” and “how every individual may need to reexamine their own choices.”(Jensen 9) When Jensen points out that, “only 10% of the workforce feels that they can achieve their dreams where they currently work”(137) it is clear that there is a long road ahead of us with no time to lose.
We know that the key to achieving change is through outstanding leadership, and as one of Jensen’s interviewees Marilyn Nagel explains, “leadership is about understanding what people’s talents are and creating space to leverage those talents.” As leaders we need to know our team, know what our employees are capable of, know their passions and their dreams so that we can work together to create the best- case scenario every day. (Jensen) Furthermore “working for a company must help the individual achieve their dreams and goals more efficiently and effectively than they could achieve them elsewhere.” (Jensen 137) Jensen reiterates that “as a leader you have to always be thinking about the team and how you can best support them.”(162)
When leaders are able to help their employees achieve their goals and dreams, businesses thrive. When employees are living their dream you automatically have a workforce that is fully engaged and committed to what they are doing. In order to get to this point respondents said that the most important thing for them was “a strong, passionate vision to connect employees to their company. And in order to truly move into the future of work, they stressed that most every people management system is going to have to change. That the future of work is moving from hierarchy to wirearchy (network), and that the workforce needs to be freed to create value in ways that today’s hierarchies do not do.”(6)
Therefore Jensen explains, going forward into the future, “hierarchies will need to be radically re-imagined.”(141) We are seeing evidence of this taking place as we speak with new business model frameworks, perhaps one of the most well known being, “Network Orchestrators.” This business model refers to companies “that create a network of peers in which participants interact and share in the value of creation. They may sell products or services, build relationships, share advice, give reviews, collaborate, co-create and more. Examples include eBay, Red Hat, and Visa, Uber, Tripadvisor, Alibaba, and Airbnb. Furthermore, these Network Orchestrators create more value and outperform companies with other business models on several key dimensions. These advantages include higher valuations relative to their revenue, faster growth, and larger profit margins.” (Harvard Business Review)
As Jensen points out, when we focus on aligning our company’s goals with our employee’s passions in order to utilize their strengths, that is when we are able to create real innovation. Through this kind of “reciprocity and person-to-person connectedness, we become Future Strong.” (Jensen) In order to achieve this, companies and leaders alike are going to have to create relationships that go beyond “if you work here, you will do whatever we tell you to do,” and instead focus on “creating relationships where both sides win.”(Jensen 136) In order to get there, Jenson says, “we are going to need ‘disruptive heroes.’ Individuals who are strong enough to build new systems and structures that will create better futures.”(17)
Through his witty and thought provoking ideas as well as the excerpts from personal interviews you are able to get a real sense of Jensen’s passion and drive for transformation, that leaves you with the feeling that you want to get out there and become the best person that you can be. Right Now! He is a true visionary and touches not only on where we are headed in business but on where humanity is headed as a whole, by urging you to discover your passion and do what you love.
- Jenson, Bill. Future Strong: How to Work Unleashed, Lead Boldly, and Live Life Your Way. Motivational Press. October 2015.
- Jenson, Bill. 2014 The Future of Work Study. P.6 http://www.simplerwork.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/11/FutureOfWorkReport.pdf
- Barry, Lambirt, Yoram (Jerry) Wind, and Megan Beck Fenley.The Harvard Business Review. November 2014.“What Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba Have in Common” http://www.simplerwork.com/futureofwork/