Some say the robot is the new sabre-toothed tiger; its presence threatens our existence as humans. This idea can send us into a fear-driven state, where we begin to behave in a survivalist mode, imagining the worst possible outcomes as we scramble to protect that which makes us feel safe, stable and reassured. As a result, we cling even tighter to traditional ideas about jobs, to one-size-fits-all people practices, to the tried and tested in the hopes that these things will keep us safe. But what if the real threat is not outside of us, but rather within us? What if I could show you how the robots will reawaken the power of the human potential?
Design thinking is a critical 4th Industrial Revolution skill. It is a process for creative problem-solving. Design thinking utilizes elements from the designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. So, if we consider that artificial intelligence (AI) is, in fact, a result of our ability to innovatively problem-solve, then we will be able to appreciate that we really are capable of so much more than what we confine ourselves to through the rudimentary tasks we call ‘work’.
Often, when the term ‘design thinking’ is heard, it is assumed that you must be an artist or designer to be able to do it. In truth, it is for anyone working on complex problems or looking to improve on their complex problem-solving ability. Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving. Within our AI and automated driven world, this mindset provides a way of looking at problems and finding creative solutions that may have been missed through a purely analytical problem-solving approach.
Acts of Empathy
Another factor that makes us inherently human, is our ability to empathise with other living beings. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to use emotions effectively. One of the most important applications of EQ is helping leaders foster a workplace climate conducive to high performance. These workplaces yield significantly higher productivity, retention, and profitability, and emotional intelligence appears key to this competitive advantage.
According to the study, The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence, “companies have demonstrated that using EQ in training and organisational change initiatives can reduce costs associated with turnover, absenteeism, and low performance. Business examples of this include the following: At PepsiCo, executives selected for EQ competencies generated 10% more productivity; high EQ salespeople at L’Oreal brought in $2.5 million more in sales, and an EQ initiative at Sheraton helped increase market share by 24%.
These case studies are indicative of the paramount importance of EQ in the employment sphere. EQ is still not coded for AI, which leaves us with another area where humans can once again rise to the top of the food chain. While many people fear that AI will take over the world in a Terminator scenario, there are also many who see the opportunity for collective intelligence where AI and humans collaborate to counterbalance the strengths and weaknesses of each other.
A Special Species
If we as humans are going to evolve further and find ways to counteract the self-imposed harm we’ve done to ourselves and our planet, we are going to have to come up with some innovative solutions based on empathy. These are the things that make us human; the things that separate us from other species. We owe it to ourselves and the planet to rise up and reawaken ourselves to our potential and our natural ability to realise it.
This is why we should choose to see the potential of having artificial AI perform the transactional, tactical and operational functions of our business, freeing us up to tap into the very essence of what makes us human: our ability to dream and envision a future, our ability to creatively problem-solve, to empathise with other living beings and in doing so, be moved to find ways to improve everyone’s quality of life.
If you find this topic interesting, join me at the HR + L&D Innovation and Tech Fest, taking place on the 26th and 27th of August 2019. During my sessions, I’ll elaborate on this topic and share tools and processes, which will focus on the employee experience aimed at achieving strategic business goals through enabling high performance.
About the Author
Tricia Jones is Founder and Managing Member of a people-development and coaching business, Capacity Builder. She is as passionate about people personally, as she is about their development professionally. For Tricia, it’s not about lectures, death-by-PowerPoint presentations, and a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about insight and inspiration and empowering each person who crosses her path to overcome challenges and achieve their dreams.