People fear what they don’t understand. Sometimes, old proverbs just hit hard. Steve Prentice and his new book, aptly titled The Future of Workplace Fear: How Human Reflex Stands in the Way of Digital Transformation, focuses on a specified version of that. As the title and subtitle would suggest, an increasingly digitized workplace mandates increasingly amorphous and alien technological innovation methods that traditionalists could eschew. “Humans are complicated creatures and from an evolutionary perspective our assembly is far from complete,” Prentice writes. “In fact we are only half-baked. We have developed substantial knowledge of our surroundings and we have mastered the capacity to manipulate objects into tools.


We record and remember our past and we actively contemplate our future. Yet we collectively have not yet moved to a point where we can permanently shed instinctive and irrational fear like some sort of prehensile tail.” Less of an out-and-out leadership advice book and more of a meditation on the tenets of what makes up corporate innovative phobias, Prentice writes with a sense of precision and skill. The writing is not always as concise as it should be, but what Prentice may not ace in terms of solidity he more than makes up for in terms of effective communication of the information. Plus, it’s peppered with fun references and a wry sense of humor, helping to enhance the drier, more statistical elements of the reading experience.

“Technological innovation has an annoying habit of moving faster than most people can handle. It is driven largely by our relentless and innate desire to conquer challenges and improve our situation,” he writes. “…Digital transformation is a real thing, but it is still a blend of fact and marketing lore. It offers some amazing new ways of doing things, and like so many of the transformations that have come before it, many of these innovations will simply soon become part of our normality, making way for other, even more transformative innovations to come. It all becomes normal eventually, but before it does, we humans have to learn whether we can run the gauntlet of emotion-based doubts and fears, along with the desire to reject the changes outright, because that’s how we’re built.”

He continues: “The technologies of digital transformation have already changed the way we do things. That’s the amazing thing about digital transformation. It’s not something out there in the future. We’re already soaking in it. It’s just that the tech stuff that we’ve become used to doesn’t seem to be that transformative anymore, because it has become parts of our new normal. These items are now travelling at the same speed as us.”


By breaking things down so extensively, Prentice demonstrates time and again his knowledge and confidence in what he focuses on. The result is a work feeling like a roadmap with respect to the material’s presentation, covering every nook and cranny from A to Z. The fact the information never threatens to overwhelm proves itself to be part of Prentice’s overall craft.

Garth Thomas