In 1992, an associate professor of kinesiology and bioengineering at the University of Illinois who had created a training program to help athletes increase performance levels, Dr. Jack Groppel, and a sports psychologist who had developed a science-based energy management training solution, Dr. James Loehr, combined their respective programs to form the Human Performance Institute (eventually acquired by Johnson & Johnson). Both Groppel and Loehr subsequently wrote some of the first mainstream publications linking the fundamentals of emerging athletic performance enhancers (e.g., energy management, impact of sleep and active recovery, nutrition) to the corporate world. Groppel’s The Corporate Athlete (1999) and Loehr’s Stress for Success (1997) and The Power of Full Engagement (2003) became “go-to” guides for Olympic gold medalists, military Special Forces, surgeons, Wall Street traders, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 CEOs all seeking to achieve optimal and sustained high performance

More than fifteen years later, the field of human performance optimization made a quantum leap with the advent of fitness trackers that could accurately monitor both movement and physiological response. Not surprisingly, around that same time words like “biohacking” and “quantified self” made their first appearance as a new wave of experimentation to enhance human performance coincided with professional environments characterized by more speed, intensity, and change. Everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to Wall Street hedge fund managers began to experiment with everything from nootropics (drugs and other substances to enhance brain function) to polyphasic sleep (sleeping once per 24-hour day for a few hours, supplemented with 20-minute naps) to ketogenic (high fat, super low carbohydrate) and meal replacement diets to high intensity interval training, all to get an edge over the competition.

It’s not a stretch to believe that this trend among high performers will continue and that the advent of emerging technologies like genetic testing, real-time glucose and EEG monitoring, and AI-enabled vision systems will radically accelerate it. It should also come as no surprise when global companies, facing a future of increased automation, job displacement, and winner-take-all competition, starting with those in “high risk-high reward” domains like finance, health care, and high tech, begin to continuously monitor and actively coach their employees like world-class athletes. These companies may even begin to differentiate themselves by the effectiveness of their programs to attract even more high performers, creating a virtuous cycle of upgrades and impact. And, as the cost of enabling technologies go down and coaching delivery techniques scale, opportunities for organizations of all shapes and sizes to follow their lead will multiply.

These corporate interventions to enhance human performance will be science-based, analytically derived, and individually customized. For example, brain surgeons in the same hospital could get radically different protocols based on, for example, personal genetics, baseline metrics, response to interventions, work environment, daily schedule, and development goals. In the future, we’ll look back on today’s cutting-edge management techniques and training and development programs as we do typewriters—relatively effective compared to alternatives at the time but now a quaint and curious relic of a bygone era.

As the futurist William Gibson said, “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.,” and there are already signals that foretell this future as indicated by a sample of some recent headlines. Today’s edge cases are tomorrow’s mainstream:

So what about employee privacy? What happens to this potentially sensitive data and how is it used? Isn’t this just another weapon for employers to use to coerce and cajole their workforce into “doing more”? All legitimate questions and worthy of deeper consideration in future posts. The short answer to many of these concerns might be that all innovations find a way to overcome impediments to adoption if the potential rewards are high enough…

What we already know is that more than 60 percent of C-level executives polled in a recent Accenture survey said that their organizations are using new technologies to collect data on their people and their work to gain more actionable insights — from the quality of work and the way people collaborate to their safety and well-being. While there were concerns from employees, that same survey found that 92 percent of workers are open to the collection of data on them and their work, but only if it improves their performance or well-being or provides other personal benefits. More than six in 10 workers would exchange their work-related data for more-customized compensation, rewards and benefits, and about the same percentage would do so for more customized learning and development opportunities.

What does all this mean for organizations around the world? I think that this emerging intersection of relevant new technologies, global trends, a deeper understanding of personal biology, and ever more intensified competition in all spheres of human existence has the potential to fundamentally reshape the discipline of management in the decades ahead. It could impact the very notion of leadership and talent development, shape work environments, change incentive systems, and alter policies that have governed employment for over a century. The most progressive companies, the industry leaders of the future, will “hack” a new code of work—one based on optimizing human performance and, in the process, create a workplace that is at once more productive, engaging, and rewarding.