The Future Normal: A book Review by Bob Morris

The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive in the Next Decade
Ronit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason
Ideapress Publishing (March 2023)

“What got you here won’t get you there.” Marshall Goldsmith

I agree with Marshall Goldsmith. In fact, I believe that what gets anyone here will not even allow them to remain here, however and wherever “here” and “there” may be defined. Every generation of business leaders struggles to understand the correlations between the past and the present in order to anticipate — and -prepare for — the correlations between the present (i.e. here) and the future (there).

In this book, Ronit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason respond to three separate but interdependent questions, each accompanied by related questions of direct relevance :

l. “How will the human race connect, get healthy, and thrive?” (Part 1, Chapters 1-10)
2. “How will we live, work, and consume?” (Part 2, Chapters 11-20)
3. “How will humanity survive?” (Part 3, Chapters 21-30)

Throughout the history of business in the colonies and then the United States, there were speculation and then experimentation to suggest what each “new normal” could contribute and (yes) disrupt. That is certainly true of the wheel, domestication of fire and a few animals, weapons, tools, steam power (e.g. motors and engines), printing devices, electronic devices, manufacturing/assembly lines, and non-military use of nuclear power. Each represents a “new “future power” that was replaced or absorbed by/combined with another new “future power.” Long ago, Heraclitus concluded that “everything changes, nothing changes.” Later, Charles Darwin characterized it as “natural selection.” And then Joseph Schumpeter described it as “creative destruction.”

As they explain, “In this book, you’ll read about the ideas and instigators that are bringing about new ways to satisfy [each new normal’s] fundament needs and wants, changing not just complete industries in the process, but also sending waves out into the wider culture and society.” Bhargava and Coutinho-Mason chose to take an approach different from what many futurists have: “Instead of asking what [begin italics] could [end italics] change the future, we found ourselves asking ‘What already  [begin italics] has [end italics] ?’ and ‘Do we this [begin italics] want [end italics] change to be a part of humanity’s future?'”

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the value of the information, insights, and counsel that  Ronit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason provide but I hope that I have at least provided some indication of why I think so highly of their book. It is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
Here are two concluding suggestions: Highlight key passages, and, keep a lined notebook near at hand in order to record your comments, questions, and page references as well as responses to the suggestions and recommendations that are inserted throughout the book’s lively and eloquent narrative. These two simple tactics will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.


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