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In an age of AI, here’s how to still be the smartest person in the room
By Michael Woodruff

Let me share with you something you may not want to hear.

In the very near future, possibly closer than you think, is it likely a ‘robot’ will take your job? Or at least some part of it? Maybe you will relinquish a large proportion of the tasks that keep you busy during the day to some highly functioning smart machine or artificially intelligent device or algorithm or system?

But when you really think about what it is you do on any given day, is that necessarily a bad thing?

If not managed well in our workplaces this shift could definitely result in poor outcomes for individuals, their family and friendship groups, their wider communities and the broader economy. As the head of a company that helps manufacturing businesses turn their plants into ‘smart factories’ …. machines, software platforms and algorithms are my world.

I’m here to tell you that we have nothing to fear from the machines, only the way in which we manage the transition from the workplaces we have now to a fully digitised future. In this future, artificial intelligence and smart machines may eventually drive our operations, but not how we operate.

Only human beings can still prioritise what we choose to innovate and develop, how we create safer work environments and build different operating procedures to reduce energy and drive sustainability, optimise production scheduling (particularly when tactical decisions need to be made) and reduce waste.

Only human beings have the emotional capacity to intuit the team culture that needs extending and nurturing from the team culture that needs to be discouraged or dismantled and rebuilt.

Only human beings will innately know how to make our workplaces more engaging and for our teams to connect and communicate better.

There are many jobs we currently don’t get to now due to time, labour and cost restraints. Using the 80:20 rule, they are possibly the 20 per cent of what you should be doing during your day to make 80 per cent of the difference to your business. But we’re often ‘just too busy’, when we should be concentrating on ‘playing above the line’.

These 20 percenters are the priorities that will become more accessible and achievable once machines are programmed and commanded to do the heavy physical lifting, the 80 percenters, shall we say. In many respects this transition has already begun, with factory owners deploying new technology to free up their people from work that is mundane, mentally exhausting, emotionally draining and physically risky.

They are turning their ‘dumb’ factories into ‘smart’ factories using the mQ Intelligence Six Pillar framework, driving operational efficiency and insight, aligned to wider business goals and values. If you have too many of your people engaged in low value work, ask what else you would rather have them do to innovate and grow your business.

It is the ultimate in old fashioned cost optimisation - extracting further value from what you’re already doing. Do less with more.

Even with the advancements in smart machines and artificial intelligence, you’re still going to be the smartest person in the room when it comes to calling the shots on what technology is installed in your factory and how it is used within your team. 

The advent and introduction of smarter machines into our factories will reward us richly. But the even bigger rewards will come to those who recognise this transition has already begun and are preparing now for the next stage of what tomorrow will bring.

To arrange an obligation free assessment of your factory and to discuss your technology needs, contact Michael Woodruff on 

mQ Intelligence