As organisations and business analysts turn their attention to the likely impact of artificial intelligence on the world of work, several key futures are emerging. Rather than a dystopian future where robots take everyone's jobs, there is a definite convergence on the opportunity for human strengths and soft skills to complement those of AI and automation.
The onset of Artificial Intelligence will speed up the processing of administrative tasks, data gathering and the analysis of information, producing reports and research findings, enabling workers to make better decisions and test hypotheses quicker. “Picture an organization where AI automates scheduling, resource allocation and reporting—taking administrative and time-consuming tasks off managers’ shoulders. Imagine what AI-assisted analytics, simulation and hypothesis testing can do for decision making, strategy and innovation throughout the enterprise.” - Accenture, The Promise of Artificial Intelligence
AI will free up time for more creative thinking and judgment work, a key area in which humans are naturally superior. This, along with other soft skills such as emotional intelligence, will become an increasingly important skill area. This is the “real” work of the future.
In the future, leaders are accelerating into judgment work:
“As the conventional role of the manager— coordinating and controlling other people’s work— wanes or even vanishes, managers will turn their attention to “real” work. They will become leading practitioners, not just administrators, sharing much in common with managers in creative and problem solving businesses, such as art directors at design agencies, chief surgeons at hospitals, principle investigators in science, or project managers in management consulting.”
AI will supplant many aspects of the “hard” elements of leadership — that is, the parts responsible for the raw cognitive processing of facts and information. At the same time, our prediction is that AI will also lead to a greater emphasis on the “soft” elements of leadership — the personality traits, attitudes, and behaviors that allow individuals to help others achieve a common goal or shared purpose.
Judgment and creative work is best done in teams, so there will be an increasing emphasis on team building and networks. These cross-functional teams will be fast-forming and dynamic, and may have their own micro-culture. Individuals may be part of several teams at once.
“Many managers mistakenly view judgment work as only an individual discipline, failing to appreciate that it can also involve decidedly interpersonal and organizational practices. In more complex settings, judgment is typically a collective outcome of individuals’ and teams’ diverse perspectives, insights and experiences. And often, the resulting choices are better informed than decisions that an individual would have arrived at on his or her own. Collective judgment requires specific interpersonal skills; namely, social networking, people development and coaching, and collaboration.”
Research shows that we spend two orders of magnitude more time with people near our desk than with those more than 50 meters away. Whatever a hierarchical organization chart says, real, day-to-day work gets done in networks. This is why the organization of the future is a “network of teams”
Pivotal people with high social and creative skills will command high rewards. Competition for these adaptable, collaborative, continually-learning, highly mobile individuals will be fierce. Incentives, rewards and working environments will be key to attracting them.
What does the workforce look like?
What will this mean for you and your team in the future? How will your corporate culture permeate through these dynamic, distributed teams? What’s the best way of enabling this kind of work? This is our focus for 2018 and beyond. Soft skills workshops such as our creativity training and critical thinking workshops help teams develop necessary "real work" approaches such as creative thinking and judgment. Our team building workshops help teams build capability for collaboration. And our facilitation services and consultancy help teams and organisations envision the most advantageous steps to take next.
The future looks bright.