You can use technology to simply replace workers. Or you can leverage it to "upskill" your workers so they can do more. Learn more about both in this video.
- So your work group solves problems by performing tasks. But what happens when an increasing number of tasks can be performed by software and robots? If you manage a team in an office, you probably aren't thinking much about robots. But no matter what field you're in, you're probably finding that software is increasingly doing a range of tasks that we used to believe could only be done effectively by humans. So what does this mean for you as a manager? Your responsibility to the organization, of course, is to solve problems and to do it as cost effectively as possible.
If there's a chance to use technology, which can be cheaper and more reliable that human labor, shouldn't you use it? Let's take for example, the media business. I used to be the editorial director for a half dozen technology publications. My writers would take information from a variety of sources, synthesize that information, write their stories, and then submit their copy for editing. Somebody else would decide where that article would go in the newspaper or magazine. Now there's already software that automates all of those tasks for financial news reporting.
A new startup just announced it's doing the same thing for sports writing. We've known for some time that software is good at tasks that are repetitive and that don't require a lot of synthetic thought, like the ability to consume information, synthesize it, summarize it, and make it meaningful to humans. Software is already writing poetry, usually badly so far, and songs, even worse, but software is also writing music not too badly and certainly not distinguishable from a lot of music that's written by humans.
We used to think that a set of tasks as complicated as driving a car or a truck, well, you couldn't possibly automate those. Now we know that self-driving vehicles already exist and are, in fact, in production in a variety of situations such as convoy trucking where a human drives a lead truck but the three or four trucks shadowing it are driverless. The truth is, it's not likely that a huge number of jobs will be completely automated any time soon. But what's likely to happen is that there's going to be an increasing amount of technology that will perform specific tasks.
As a manager, it's your job to help determine how tasks are distributed among a work group. That's why the exercise I mentioned in another video where you ask your team members to collectively determine how to distribute tasks, that's why that activity is so critical. As you increasingly introduced automation to perform tasks that workers once performed, that will become a core capability of your team to reallocate tasks among themselves and to ensure that the work is being performed in the most effective ways possible, and to make sure that your team members are each doing the work they enjoy the most and they're the best at.
Now there's another role of technology to consider and that's in enhancing the skills of your team members. Remember that example of the car mechanic using something like Google Glass to repair an engine? So many of the technologies we use today are actually surrogates for tasks that used to be performed by a human. These are assistive technologies that can essentially serve as skill enhancers. They can give us the ability to perform tasks and solve problems we might not have been able to solve without extensive training.
As a manager, you probably have the ability to continually redesign the work of your team in a way that allows you to leverage those assistive technologies. This not only means you'll be providing work to people who might not otherwise have a job, it means you'll have a larger candidate pool to choose from.
- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working