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Artificial Intelligence

Question Everything

Future success demands disruptive thinking.

By Kate Pavao

Spring 2019

What’s the secret to surviving in an increasingly automated world? Futurist Mike Walsh, CEO of Tomorrow and author of The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You, tells Profit how to get in the right mindset.

The Fourth Age

On the Near Future:

The most valuable jobs in the next five years don’t exist today. We don’t even have a title for them. One thing’s for certain, rather than making decisions, workers will be spending more time designing models to make the decisions for them. The minute you automate part of a job, there will be another, more useful thing for you to do.

On Smart Questions:

You don’t have to be the CEO or the CIO to make an impact in your organization. Anyone can think about how algorithms can transform their work and the people around them. Look at whatever you’re doing today and ask yourself, “Should I be doing this? Should anyone be doing this?” Figure out how to get ahead of the curve, whether it's automation, or AI, or rethinking processes. That’s the best way you can add value right now.

On Transformation:

We have an obligation to go back to the beginning and say, “What are we actually trying to achieve here? What is the kind of work that adds value? What are the types of experiences that our customers would love to have from us, and what’s possible now that wasn’t five years ago, leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning?”

The people who are trying new things now and pushing the limits on what’s possible will have a head start.”

If all you’re doing is taking an existing process and digitizing it—taking what used to be paper and replacing it with robotic automation—then you’ve missed an opportunity to transform the nature of the work itself and the experience for your customers.

On Experimenting:

No one really knows how this is going to play out, but the people who are trying new things now and pushing the limits on what’s possible will have a head start because they’ve had the experience of trying to reimagine their organization. Being able to reframe a problem or bring a new context to it is very valuable when it comes to disruptive thinking. And it’s something machines can’t do. It’s actually a very human.

Photography by Shutterstock