Robots are Taking Our Jobs
There is no question that robots bring many benefits to companies. They make fewer mistakes, save money and work faster and more precisely. That is why businesses in nearly all fields are using more and more of them.
The big issue is not whether the robots are coming, because they’re already here. And it’s not whether they will boost growth, because they do. Robots can perform jobs nonstop, which is good for a company to reduce cost. Also, robots will never ask for health or retirement benefits, so “hiring” a robot is much cheaper than hiring a human.
Probably the biggest change that is affecting our businesses is how machines are taking over tasks ranging from building maintenance to inventory management. But it isn’t just the jobs we think of as “blue collar” – all necessary and important – that are being affected. In fact, anyone with a job or business in which there is some sort of transaction between people will be having a forced career change – and sooner rather than later.
Self-serve machines and ATMs mean that customers can do most task themselves on these, so fewer employees are needed in the retail and banking industries. Same for pharmacies, where some are now using robots instead of people to fill prescriptions. There is even software now that can generate stories and articles, which means less work for writers and reporters, and software that can review documents that would have previously been analyzed by lawyers.
But that’s only the first layer of the “robot revolution,” because those robots and computers are talking to each other, which speeds up business decisions and will strip layers of management from organizations. The higher up the outdated organizational pyramid we go, the less management is required. Organizations need to be flatter in order to process information faster unless they want to risk nimble competitors seizing business opportunities.
This begs the question, what are the characteristics of a “flatter” organization? To become a flat organization, start from the top. It requires a CEO who is willing to give up micromanaging, putting out fires and “babysitting.”
So what does the CEO do if he or she is no longer responsible for the operation, and is running a flat organization with the managers controlling and operating the game? Plan, train, and review: That is the CEO's real job.
Plan. Chart the future course and goals. Plan for capital investments, growth and development.
Train. Make certain your managers are constantly learning new skills and acquiring more capabilities.
Review. Monitor the results and key indicators that track progress and success. Support managers' efforts, but don’t do their jobs for them.
Then more operational decisions become the responsibility of managers, and those managers become fewer in numbers. The manager's answer is the final word, and does not require ratification, affirmation or permission.
Since they are human, managers will make errors in judgment and must be supported by the CEO when this happens. And managers should be encouraged to occasionally take risks and experiment. Maybe this will bring additional profits into the company, maybe not. In either case, they should be supported in their efforts and encouraged to try again, and again, as long as they reach their objectives and projections.
The rise of extraordinary artificial intelligence requires us to respond by cultivating extraordinary human intelligence. Remember, even today’s most brilliant machines still have limitations. Machines do not yet have a capacity for creativity, innovation, or inspiration. But we’ll discuss that in another blog.
Have a great week!