Updated: Aug 9
The rise of Generative AI has taken the world by storm, and AI assistants are popping up all over the place, providing a new way for people to approach their work. These assistants automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, enabling individuals to focus on more complex and creative work. However, for some, it is just an improvement in productivity, and they question whether the use of AI assistants may lead to them losing their jobs.
For those starting to use AI assistants, they are indeed a blessing, providing much-needed relief for overworked employees. The improved productivity is creating needed capacity and some extra space in already full workloads. However, this is expected to be short-lived as these benefits become normalized and expected. The buffer we now experience will be consumed and used for something – the question is what?
No wonder there is a fear that the widespread use of AI assistants may lead to significant job reductions. Some jobs will be redundant, while others will be expected to double their workloads. For instance, if someone used to write ten articles a week, they may now be expected to do twenty using AI assistants.
So, where is the real gain for the organization apart from fewer people and perhaps marginal cost reductions? Is this the same story of bottom line rather than top-line thinking.
How To Use AI Assistants To Achieve Better Outcomes
The key to realizing transformational benefits of AI lies in adapting businesses to fully exploit the capabilities of these tools, without exploiting the people impacted by the technology.
Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt (Father of the Theory of Constraints) believed that technology could only bring benefits if it diminished a limitation. Therefore, organizations must ask critical questions to exploit the power of AI technology:
What is the power of the new technology?
What limitation does the technology diminish?
What rules enabled us to manage this limitation?
And most importantly, what new rules will we now need?
Keeping the old limitations that we had before the new technology limits the benefits we can realize. It is by removing the old rules and adopting new ones that creates transformational benefits.
By providing credible answers to these questions, organizations can achieve a return on investment that is both efficient and effective, enabling their employees to focus on higher-level tasks and achieve more significant outcomes – higher returns not just lower costs. This will enable companies to move beyond the short-lived relief of AI and realize its true potential as a transformational tool.
Which Path Will You Take?
The use of AI will be a threat for some but an opportunity for others. If history repeats itself many organizations will adopt AI assistants, realize the efficiency gains, and pat themselves on the back for a short-term win. However, as these benefits become normalized they will soon be back to where they began. Any gains they might have realized will be lost and they will be left doing more with less except now with their new AI assistant.
On the other hand, there will be others who asked the right questions, changed existing processes, and created new rules that will enable them to reap the full benefits of AI technology. They will realize compounding benefits that will accrue over time.
What the future holds will depend on which path you take and your willingness to take a longer term perspective focused on improving outcomes rather than just reducing costs.
Which path will you take?