First let me set the stage.
I’m a big fan of Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson who are the authors of Race Against the Machine, a book which explore how technological innovation is impacting our jobs, skills, and wages- more specifically how technology is taking our jobs. Andrew McAfee was featured in my book, The Collaborative Organization, and Erik was one of the people who endorsed the book and is featured on the back cover where he said:
“Most business leaders understand how critical collaborative tools are to the success of their companies. What they need now is a guide, based on hard data and practical experiences, that shows how to put those tools to work. Jacob Morgan fills that need with this book.”
Recently John Hagel posted a video called “Rethinking Race Against the Machines” which makes some great points, (seen below). John suggests that it’s not technology that is taking our jobs, it’s the way we designed and think about work.
Most organizations and educational institutions were modeled after the military which meant everyone dresses the same, acts the same, gets access only to relevant information to get their jobs done, works a set schedule, and basically works like a “drone.” Now, technology has finally caught up to the point where robots, drones, and automation can finally do the jobs and perform the tasks that our organizations have been assigning to humans this whole time.
It’s no wonder that synonyms for “work” include: drudgery, daily grind, and struggle and synonyms for “employee” include: slave, cog, and servant. Think about it for a minute. The typical set up for a company used to be that an employee comes to work and puts in as many hours as possible and asks as few questions as possible. Employees weren’t asked to think, nope, that was the job for the great managers. The regular employees were just supposed to “do” what the managers told them to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible, sounds like the perfect fit for something that could be automated or handed over to a drone to do right?
So here we are, our companies constructed in a way that designs work for robots and drones only it’s the humans who are doing these jobs, or at least, they were. Now, old-school managers can finally have their wish, an army of drones who are the perfect workers, they don’t think, they work long hours, they don’t ask questions, and they get things done.
As the title of the post says, it’s not the robots that are taking away our jobs, it’s the humans who are fighting to take away jobs which were designed for robots.
We are finally seeing an evolution in the way we work and the smart companies are investing in the tools and strategies that are required to survive and progress in the “future of work.” Organizations are starting to realize that success comes from innovation, creating an engaged and collaborative workforce, creating flexible work environments, empowering employees, leveraging collective intelligence, and capturing and retaining knowledge. This is the type of environment that robots cannot succeed in. These types of companies and jobs are designed for humans. The challenge many companies face now is they are rethinking how work is done while trying to adapt to changes in behavior and technology that are shaping the future of work.
The only thing businesses can be certain of is uncertainty. In that type of environment, companies that connect and engage their employees and information will win.
(Image credit: Bigstock)
- Our future depends on the humanization of work (rossdawsonblog.com)
- What happens after the droids take our jobs? Andrew McAfee at TED2013 (ted.com)
- Are robots hurting job growth? (cbsnews.com)
- Man vs. robot (macleans.ca)