Work, as an idea, is both familiar and frustratingly abstract. We go to work, we finish our work, we work at something. It’s a place, an entity, tasks to be done or output to achieve. It’s how we spend our time and expend our mental and physical resources. It’s something to pay the bills, or something that defines us. But what, really is work? And from a company’s perspective, what is the work that needs to be done? In an age of artificial intelligence, that’s not merely a philosophical question. If we can creatively answer it, we have the potential to create incredible value. And, paradoxically, these gains could come from people, not from new technology.
Since the dawn of the industrial age, work has become ever more transactional and predictable; the execution of routine, tightly defined tasks. In virtually every large public and private sector organisation, that approach holds: thousands of people, each specialising in certain tasks, limited in scope, increasingly standardised and specified, which ultimately contribute to the creation and delivery of predictable products and services to customers and other stakeholders. The problem? Technology can increasingly do that work. Actually, technology should do that work: Machines are more accurate, they don’t get tired or bored, they don’t break for sleep or