There is a growing school of thought that if you plaster enough AI across your business, it will henceforth be intelligent. And that is without any consideration of the data cesspit used to fuel the AI.
Of course artificial is not the only form of intelligence business leaders have access to. However, Taylorism considers natural intelligence as problematic. Original thought would likely lead to process deviation and that can only result in inefficiency, which in turn threatens the organisation’s profitability.
AI will save us
It is unlikely to end well, if business leaders put all their chips on AI in the hope that it will enable their process-oriented, inert factory to navigate the compounding storms of disruption.
The factory model was designed for more innocent, steady state, times. A focus on process only works well when the market is predictable. An AI-driven factory will resemble an energetic, directionless and rapidly deflating balloon. But mercifully not for long.
Towards an intelligent buisness
So what might an intelligent business look like:
It would recognise that innovation is the only way to respond to the novel situations that disruption will increasingly present.
It would recognise that the cognition of the workforce is a largely untapped asset that when coupled with AI would turn the workforce into a legion of superhuman cognitive athletes. This would make the workplace a cognitive gym and the bosses would become cognitive coaches.
It would look less like an inert factory and more like a living organism, sensing, deciding and acting in real-time. Thus an intelligent business is an adaptive organisation. It would use both technology-sourced data and the senses of the people.
It would recognise that asset growth trumps profitability. Assets provide a buffer against an uncertain future.
Leadership would be contextual and ubiquitous. Whoever is closest to the ball(s) at any given time is the team captain.
Intelligent businesses recognise that having only one business model, ie. one set of services, one financial model and one go to market model, is a single point of failure. Thus intelligent businesses are in the business of creating more intelligent businesses.
Intelligent businesses seek harmony and thus avoid conflict to ensure valuable resources are not squandered. They create new markets rather than endeavouring to muscle in on established markets.
Intelligent businesses do not eschew efficiency. Again it is important not to be wasteful. However survival trumps efficiency and so taking risks, which can be inefficient, is important in respect of ‘staying in play’.
They never rest on their laurels. Everyday is day one. There is no innovator’s dilemma. And there is no need to worry about crossing the chasm when you live in the chasm.
Master of Business Adaptiveness?
Some leaders will be disturbed by this interpretation of intelligent. It flies in the face of their business education. This is less about mastering factory administration and more about creating a corporate nervous system that enables the organisation to thrive in what will increasingly appear to be a hostile terrain.