“It's happening. In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots, a former CEO of McDonald’s said given rising wages, the same would happen throughout their franchises, Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses, and Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous car technology would arrive within two years.
Whether it's worker displacement, the skills gap, youth unemployment, or socio-economic stratification, the impact on society will be staggering. I’ve said it on multiple occasions and believe it even more so every day: creating economic opportunity will be the defining issue of our time.”
Those are the words of Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, taken from his publication of his email to all LinkedIn employees announcing the company’s acquisition by Microsoft. Like Weiner, I am concerned about the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications. Thus I am delighted by his recognition of the phenomenon and its impact. It is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time, not only because of the need to create economic opportunity but because of the dangers inherent in failing to do so effectively.
People still remain critical for any organisation because:-
- They are the customers; they generate the revenue that sustains your business.
- You need people to be aware of and respond to changing ‘needs’ (however you define the term.)
- They both create and respond to your “brand.”
I am concerned, however, that so few other CEO’s seem to recognise this and the danger that AI poses. Even the examples cited give some evidence of that. The former CEO’s comments about rising wages certainly imply that profit is more important than people and contradict the powerful economic lessons of Henry Ford. Destroy jobs on the scale indicated here, and you certainly risk destroying the market too. AI may well be further evidence of the incredible technological progress of the past few decades, and part of the progress of life, but we cannot apply it willy-nilly without simultaneously considering and addressing the concomitant social costs.
These are complex issues, but for me the root of the problem lies in "The Paradox of Management" – the convention of managing people exclusively as costs rather than the assets that we claim they are. Recognising and acknowledging this paradox provides the key for finding the way forward and is why I am so convinced that my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model provides as good a basis as any I have encountered for addressing this “defining issue of our time” and underpinning the creation of greater economic opportunity.
If you like what you have read contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can provide the catalyst to help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ : one where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, so embracing change and transforming – and sustaining – organisational performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.