Experts predict that by 2030, increasing automation and AI (artificial intelligence) will replace over 30% of all American jobs. Even if you don’t think that you’ll be replaced by a robot, “almost every job has a significant amount of activities that can be automated.” Do you have the skills to succeed in the age of automation and AI? How can you protect your career in the age of automation and AI? Will your organization be able to compete in the future? We’ll explore what you and your organization should do to stay relevant and necessary.  

New Skill: Adapt Rapidly to Changes in Technology

The pace of technological change is increasing. You’ll need to be able to adapt and recognize opportunities that new technologies offer. To do this, CEOs told Accenture “creativity, critical thinking and empathy are now more important for all workers to operate at the pace of change, contributing both to their companies’ growth and to their personal satisfaction.”  In their survey of executives, the World Economic Forum came to a similar conclusion. They recognized that the top three skills people will need are: complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. With these skills, you’ll be able to adapt to changing technology and recognize opportunities. And, they are learnable.

New Habit: Continuous Scanning for Threats and Opportunities  

Even if you don’t expect your job will be replaced by a robot, your organization (and your job) might be at risk. Increasing automation and connectivity mean that every organization will face new threats and opportunities. You’ll need to make it a habit of continuously scanning for ways that your organization needs to change to survive. In its most recent survey of CEOs, IBM found that “What (organizations) require, now more than ever, is the fortitude for perpetual reinvention. It’s a matter of seeking and championing change even when the status quo happens to be working quite well.” Here are two sample scanning questions that we train people to use in strategic planning:

1) How might advances in technology create new competitors?
Using new technology, the internet, Amazon and other online retailers made it incredibly easy to shop online. In 2018, online shopping is expected to reach $526 billion. By itself, Amazon accounts for almost 50% of the US’s ecommerce market. This has become a serious threat to brick and mortar stores, and it was largely responsible for Sears’ recent bankruptcy. You need to consider if new technologies will create new competitors/opportunities for your organization.

2) How might new technologies change our core business processes?
For the supply chain core business process, 3D printers will change what consumers can demand (more customization) and who produces these products. Perhaps a robot cannot do your job. But, if your organization manufactures or delivers products, will 3D printing be a threat?

As you develop your habit of constantly scanning for new challenges, you’ll need to remain curious and  tenacious. As we practice repeatedly in our Innovation for Results workshop, you’ll be more productive if you frame challenges as questions. Get started with Question Starters.

3 Skills for Rapid Adaptation to Change:

#1 Watch your Gator Brain and Stay Open
Scientists have found that when we’re stressed or under pressure, our natural reaction is to see new ideas or unknown changes as threats. We call this Gator Brain thinking. To succeed in the age of automation, we must learn to manage our Gator Brain. That is, we must learn how to welcome, evaluate and strengthen new options.

#2 Use Creative Thinking Tools to Accelerate Innovation
It’s clear from surveys by IBM, Accenture and the World Economic Forum, that executives value creativity. Creativity is a skill, which will improve if we practice. An excellent way to practice creative thinking is to regularly use creativity tools to solve problem. We’ve compiled the most robust creativity tools for you.

The next time you’re trying to solve a complex problem, look at these tools. If you need to generate options, pick one of our tools for diverging. For example, use Forced Connections to generate really novel ideas. Want to select and strengthen the best option? Use one of our tools for converging. For example, use POINt to evaluate and strengthen proposed solutions.

Many of you have taken our creative thinking course and are familiar with these tools. If you have not taken our course and would like to learn more, contact us.

#3 Expand Your Brain’s Ability to Make Connections that Lead to Innovation
When we explore new ideas, environments or experiences, we accelerate our brain’s ability to connect ideas. Using fMRI images, scientists have seen that exposure to stimuli creates new connections (synapses) between neurons. Scientists call this neuroplasticity. When you increase the number of synapses, you increase your ability to connect ideas that can lead to innovations.

Studies show that the most brilliant  innovators are people who study a wide variety of topics outside their areas of expertise. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page all famously do this. You can too. When you’re in an airport, pick up a magazine that you’ve never read. Read about an unfamiliar topic. Or, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. We regularly post stimulating articles and videos about innovation and a wide range of other topics.

You Will Succeed in a World of Automation and AI

We cannot predict what technological advances will mean for us. However, experts agree that some jobs will be lost, some gained. Some of today’s leading organizations will be replaced with others who developed better products or services. You will succeed and help your organization succeed if you 1) adapt to rapid changes in technology, 2) recognize threat/opportunities to your organization, and 3) foster innovation.







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