Leading Brainy Teams


Advances in Project Management Series


By Peter Cook

United Kingdom


Imagine a world where we work 15 hours a week with greater access to leisure, pleasure, intellectual and social stimulation? We’ve been promised this for decades, but the advent of computers has hermetically attached us to our iPods, iPads and office pods. Artificial intelligence offers us a one-time opportunity to break free of our addiction to working on the chain gang, although it is as yet unclear as to whether our merger with artificial intelligence will lead to a “War of the Worlds” or a harmonious fusion of man, woman, project and machine.

Brain Based Enterprises” is a new book by Peter Cook that explores the role that innovation and creativity will play to help us survive and thrive in the 4th Industrial Revolution. This is not the stone age, the steam or the industrial age, but the information revolution, where value is created primarily through the intelligent combination of knowledge and wisdom. How shall we cope in a world where it has variously been predicted that up to 50% of our jobs will disappear in the next few decades? What does that mean for education, where the half-life of knowledge is in free-fall? What will become of money in such a world? How shall we fall in love? In a business sense, what will teams look like? How shall we project manage teams of diverse people? In this extract from the book, we begin by outlining the various scenarios that will inform our lives as we merge with machines and, later on, look at some implications for teams and teamwork.

Brain Based Enterprises

It’s 07.05 am on 05 January 2030 … The day begins for Julie:

Julie wakes up at exactly the optimum time to maximise her sleep, wellbeing and energy, to a vibration in her neck from her embedded wellbeing monitor. Some ambient music bathes the room, bathed in soft purple swirling lighting. The smell of freshly brewed coffee percolates upwards from the kitchen. These are things she chose in her psychological contract with Rover. In a few minutes, coffee, water and fruit slices are brought to her by Rover, her personal robotic assistant. It’s time for Julie’s early morning well-being session, led by her ever-faithful 24/7 digital guide, who has already ironed her underwear, run a bath, organised her bag for the day, checked her travel schedule, confirmed her appointments and so on.

Rover also monitored Julie’s vital signs and adjusted her personal exercise routine around her expected physical activity during the day, to maximise her balance of mind, body and soul. Rover is, of course, a robot and makes rational decisions based on an aggregation of big data about what’s best for Julie’s work, life and play. However, Rover has also integrated humanity by taking on board Julie’s own personal values within the decision-making algorithms that Rover uses …

We are seeing the earliest signs and signifiers of a world where man and machine have switched roles with driverless trains, 3D printing, self-service shops, smart cities, smart homes, smartphones and drones. We can already measure our vital signs to improve our vitality and receive live updates on life threatening conditions to help us live long and prosper. However, the transformation towards our love affair with machines is not exactly new. We perhaps began to notice the difference as long ago as 1822 with Charles Babbage’s invention of the difference engine. Since that time, we have had the enigma machine, The Casio FX77 and many more devices that have enabled us to do ever more complex things. Many more things are still to come in our enigmatic relationship with machines via The Internet of Things, which promises to have 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. Innovation consultancy Arthur D. Little (2017) report that any technology innovations that enhance people’s time to spend on higher level Maslow needs and that reduce or remove the need to focus on the lower level needs is a good innovation. We will increasingly have the ability to separate the things that satisfy us from the things that we have to do. It is entirely feasible that we will have time to enjoy those things in life that we do purely for their intrinsic value such as arts and crafts.

Perhaps, like Julie’s example in 2030, we’ll use machines to clear the space and time for us to enjoy such things. From coal mining to data mining we can envisage four potential future scenarios in our love / indifference / hate affair with man, woman, machines, robotics, artificial intelligence and official stupidity as shown in Figure 1 and described below:


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Routledge worldwide. Information about Routledge project management books can be found here.

How to cite this paper: Cook, P. (2018). Leading Brainy Teams, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue IX – September. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/pmwj74-Sep2018-Cook-Leading-Brainy-Teams.pdf

About the Author

Peter Cook

United Kingdom




Peter Cook is a unique hybrid of scientist, business academic and musician, blending hard analytical thinking with a creative twist that comes from the arts in his work at Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. His books are acclaimed by Professor Charles Handy, Tom Peters and Harvey Goldsmith CBE and he writes for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin group.  Peter was responsible for leading pharmaceutical innovation teams to bring the World’s first treatment for HIV / AIDS and human Insulin into being. He also performs with a variety of music legends including Meatloaf’s singer and Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, learning from the boardroom to the boardwalk. Peter brings MBA business thinking into intimate contact with parallel ideas from the worlds of music and science in his work.

For information about Peter Cook’s latest book, Brain Based Enterprises: Harmonising the Head, Heart and Soul of Business, published by Routledge, click here.