Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Tuesday Conversation - AI, Future of Work and Recruiting (Hypothetical)

The sentence that commenced yesterday’s “Tuesday Conversation” was in the form of a very broad question that went something like this:

“All this talk about AI and the future of work as we know it, do you think it’s for real and how far away is it?”

I confirmed my belief it is real and commented first on the pace of change.

I suggested that based on my experience, the change would be very slow for a period of time, before all of a sudden moving to hyper speed. I provided several examples to back up my view including the slow adoption by business of e-mail, before it exploded to be an essential tool, almost overnight. The same with the move from mainframe to PC computing in the workplace.

The person I was conversing with is at a “career age” that may be challenging.

In their late 20’s and having worked for 5 years, they have not yet reached a level of seniority where they are no longer doing routine work, including the activities that will disappear in the new world.

The change to the concept of work as we know it today is considered to be most challenging for those older, but I can see a much younger cohort being severely affected. Sadly, the older you are, perhaps the cynical you are too. The under 30’s retain the optimism that comes with their generation.

My conversation partner was not overly distressed, more interested in thinking it through.

We moved on to what ancillary changes may look like.

We discussed many things including that of recruitment. Rather than matching people to jobs, it may be a more targeted approach of matching skills to tasks. I referenced the Michael Lewis book, Moneyball where each act within a baseball game was allocated a value. To be a successful team, it was necessary to have players with the combined skill set to equal the sum total of the values needed to win a game. Each player was then paid accordingly.

I suggested the recruiters challenge of the future may be to provide a person or people who possess the collective skills needed to “win the game” and to do so within the allocated budget.

As far as each person is concerned, their suitability for a specific role is assessed based on qualifications and past experienced performing that role, or a similar role. In future, the formal qualification may be a platform however their actual ability to perform individual tasks may be what is valued most.

For example, an individual may be an excellent writer, a very capable public presenter and a creative thinker who also has an accounting degree.

Possessing these skills, they will be paid for their ability to take the work produced by AI, interpret it, produce a report and present it to the Strategy Committee or Board together with a set of options for consideration.

And, they may perform this task as a freelancer for a number of corporates.

Speaking of the subject of the future of work, I recently read this excellent article by Petra Zink titled "Why the future of work won't feel like work".

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