I want to give our team superpowers and I think it might be possible.
There are a number of human traits that any team display that cause problems;
- The desire to please. Meaning that people can say yes when then mean no.
- The desire to keep promises. Meaning they can go too fast and cause unexpected problems.
- The desire to demonstrate competence. Meaning they can talk to each other less than they should.
Additionally, our team lacks knowledge and skills. Don’t get me wrong, benchmarked against other consultants we rock. But if we’re benchmarked against the corpus of human knowledge, we really suck. Now, we can (and do) create wikis to share knowledge. We put training in place to improve skills. We monitor our performance and put improvement plans in place.
But what if we could turn all our consultants into superheroes with ultimate knowledge and skills? Would that provide them the time to get over the human issues that cause problems?
Imagine, if you will, a super-intelligent personal assistant that has learned by heart every case-study, academic paper, and article ever written on every discipline that our consultancy covers. Imagine that you could ask your assistant “Please draft the baseline User Experience flow for the customer’s journey when they board the train. Provide me a clickable prototype of this together with key concepts used in the flow and why they are relevant to this client.”Imagine that your assistant would be able to deliver you back the documents for you to continue working on.
Imagine that your assistant could listen to every conversation in the organisation and that you could ask, “What does the CEO think about this?” and it could provide that opinion.
Imagine that your assistant could quality check your work and highlight where there was a mismatch between the client’s expectation and what was being done.
Imagine that your assistant could read the stress level of the whole team and adjust scheduling and resourcing levels to improve the situation.
So now you might be thinking that it sounds like you’re going to be out of a job. If the assistant is more knowledgeable, has better skills and can be omnipresent it’s going to be hard to compete. The key is that you don’t need to compete. You need to focus on the value adding part of the job. The human part.
Humans, especially the ones we hire are exceptional. And the areas where we want to use our super-powers are:
Using emotional intelligence.
Intuition. The ability to read people’s non-verbal signals. To be able to provide energy to a room of people or to provide sage council at a difficult time are all the reasons people love working with us. Now, and in the future. Using our emotional intelligence to deliver impact through our extra knowledge and skills will continue to be critical. Even now, when we try to discuss new concepts like peer-to-peer customer services with clients they resist the idea as ‘too different’ or “too hard to implement”. What would the difference be if 100% of your time on a project was about winning people over rather than delivering the documents to support the vision?
Using curiosity intelligence.
In hindsight, it’s a lot easier to see what the right question to ask was. Whilst IBM Watson are developing a Watson brain to choose and run experiments, I firmly believe this is an area humans will excel in for many many years to come. Our ability to ask the insightful and challenging questions is because we are curious. That curiosity is what drives innovation in every field of human endeavour. Whether it’s the best way to improve a KPI by a couple of percentage points, or creating an entirely new industry, curiosity is one of the places we, as humans, add real value and will continue to do so.
When we reach a cross-roads and need to make a decision (usually with a lack of data on which to base our decision) humans struggle. In these situations our assistant will be able to help enormously with our trade-offs. However, there are some judgements that are purely human. They are what define humanity. It is these judgements that differentiate decent customer service from exceptional customer service. Deciding based on the the tone of someone’s voice and the pleading in their eyes to break the rules or choosing one person’s view over another in a meeting. These judgements are the ones that should be reserved for our human superheros.
In conclusion, I think that using AI to provide support for our consultants has the potential to radically change the outcomes that are achievable on our projects, but I do still believe that there is a place, and an important place for our humans.