To what extent will generative AI platforms impact the future of work? This is the billion-dollar question. I recently attended a conference for marketing professionals focused just on this topic and found some interesting, and sometimes scary, insights. One thing is for sure, generative AI is rapidly transforming the way we work, create, and even think, and its impact on various industries will be profound.
When I released my book back in 2019, I could see clearly that AI would take over components of everyday tasks of many roles within organizations. One of the keynote presenters at this conference, Cassie Kozyrkov who is the Chief Decision Officer at Google, termed this transition as thinking versus thunking. She admitted that we don’t have a good word to describe these tasks that AI will do much better, faster, and cheaper…the thunking. In this new age, AI will do the thunking tasks of sifting through large amounts of data, finding patterns in how we communicate, and summarizing this information for us at amazing speed. But don’t be worried, as humans we will be freed up to more creative, strategic, innovative activities that can help us create better client interactions or social impact. If we leverage these tools, and that is what they are, we can tap into what is the best part of being human and our advanced level of thought and creativity. I know this can sound daunting and, yes, there are challenges with this transition that we are trying to navigate. Traditionally, managers only needed to manage tasks and outputs. It is easy to measure how many widgets someone produced per hour or how many customers/revenues did the salesperson add in that quarter? This was Ms. Kozyrkov’s main call to action around this topic:
“How does management measure/reward employees for sparks of brilliance? How do we create environments for that? How do we manage that? How do we reward that? There is so little management theory on this topic. We need to recognize that we have over-relied on metrics that may become irrelevant quite quickly. We can expect technology to start moving a lot faster and as things accelerate, we are going to need to change quicker and quicker. How do we keep up and catch up? It is very important that you take responsibility for the things you do.”
I have some thoughts and strategies on what you can do now to tackle this unprecedented change that is coming to our organizations. As a leader facing the advent of generative AI in the workplace, it is essential to strategize the reskilling and upskilling of your employees now. Here are some considerations:
1. Creating a Culture of Adaptation: Foster a culture that embraces change and continuous improvement. Encourage employees to take ownership of their learning paths and explore how AI can enhance their roles.
2. Aligning with Business Goals: Ensure that the AI strategy aligns with your overall business objectives. This alignment will help in defining the specific skills needed and guide the reskilling efforts.
3. Providing Tools and Resources: Equip your employees with the necessary tools, platforms, and resources to experiment and work with AI. Access to the right technology can make the learning curve less steep.
4. Collaborating with HR: Collaborate closely with HR to tailor individualized learning paths based on roles, interests, and aptitudes. Personalized learning experiences will likely be more effective in helping employees adapt to new technologies.
5. Monitoring and Evaluation: Establish mechanisms to track and evaluate the progress of reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Regular check-ins and assessments can provide insights into what’s working and where adjustments might be needed.
Through all these efforts you will also need to consider ethical implications, such as data privacy and biases in AI algorithms. Training in ethical AI practices will likely become an essential aspect of upskilling. In addition, organizations need to be transparent in their communication about the changes, why they are happening, and how they will impact roles within the organization that can alleviate concerns from employees and foster a more receptive attitude towards reskilling. Lastly, we need to provide clear paths for career growth in this new AI-driven landscape. By offering mentorship, support, and clear pathways for progression, these efforts can motivate employees to embrace new skills and roles.
By focusing on these aspects, you can help your team navigate the transformative landscape that generative AI presents, ensuring that they are equipped with the necessary skills and mindset to thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace. It’s a process that requires foresight, investment, and a concerted effort to build a resilient and adaptive workforce. And if you need help with developing this strategy, I am here to help you think through it.