AI-Ready Leadership
The BOSS Magazine|September 2019
Welcoming the change AI and Machine Learning will bring
Robert Dvorak

We all know the old adage — change is inevitable. I The founder of Airbnb noted recently on a popular podcast, “If you’re not thinking of what’s next, the world around you will change faster than you do.” Businesses in the US and around the globe continue to face change at an unparalleled pace. It’s been well-covered by the press in the past few years, and we can all read the myriad of studies, including SilkRoad’s take on the topic, predicting a lack of readiness, massive job shifts, and the inevitable fundamental changes coming to our workforce because of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, among other digital technology disruptions.

Rather than denying or fearing the change, there are ways that organizations and their leaders can prepare for a new future. It all starts with their current employees, as leaders such as Amazon have recognized. To embrace opportunities from AI/ machine learning, employees need continuous learning, reskilling, or rediscovery, and guidance for embracing the unknown through an organization with EQ and IQ training, transparent assessment, and strong HR leadership.

Regardless of whether it’s a big company with massive brand recognition — think GM, Apple, IBM, and so on — or a small startup with large aspirations, all organizations are facing some level of anxiety about the impending change driven by AI and machine learning.

There have been numerous marvels of human ingenuity that have brought us to this precipice. Many of those marvels were guided by one of the greatest change agents of recent times — Steve Jobs. Steve made many famous speeches and quotes during his life, none more so than his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

In this speech, Steve told three stories that changed his life and made him the successful person those graduates saw before them. The first was how the “dots connected” in his life after he dropped out of college and began “dropping in” on classes he found interesting. The second was getting fired from the company he founded, Apple, and the opportunities that opened for him following that humbling experience. The last was about the “ultimate change agent” as he called it — death — and the freedom it brings when you embrace your own mortality.

Those three stories apply to the coming disruptions we face today.

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