How would go about repairing a wind-up watch?
Wait, what? I thought this column was about Pathfinders and artificial intelligence.
Hang on, it is, we will get there.
First, the watch.
Odds are, unless you are of a certain age or a connoisseur of watches, you don’t wear one anymore—if you ever did.
It’s a one function device in a multifunctional world. It tells time. Maybe the date and a moon cycle or some other random bits of data if you have paid enough for your timepiece.
Your mobile device has enough computing power to run the government of Lichtenstein.
But, think about it. The wind-up watch is an absolute mechanical marvel. A thing made up of miniature parts and springs that, somehow, manages to keep time reasonably well. Delicate and complex, yet robust, practical, and stylish.
Old technology that many of us used to rely on, but wouldn’t have a clue on how they work or how to fix one.
So, as a thought experiment, how would go about fixing a wind-up watch (taking it to the last repair shop in town doesn’t count).
If you take the same approach to understanding artificial intelligence and the impact that it will have on your job and your life, that approach to figuring out how to fix a watch – understanding how it works today is important but not sufficient.
Like a watch, you don’t need to know how artificial intelligence works as much as you need to know what it can do, be able to read the dials, how to use the tech to your advantage, and how to stay adaptable as the technology evolves.
What professionals need to do to prepare for artificial intelligence is develop a set of traits/attitudes that will help you continuously stay on top of what AI throws your way. In essence, develop your Pathfinder attributes.
Remember, when faced with opportunities and challenges, Pathfinders do not accept the status quo, rather they innovate to find a new way, creating a path for others to follow. A path for the benefit of the whole, not the self.
Clearly Pathfinders will be well suited, and able, to adapt to the new AI powered world.
Using quantitative and qualitative research, we have identified the characteristics (values) of a Pathfinder and grouped these into five main categories (modules): Approach, Outlook, Motivation, Adversity Response and Relationships.
This module covers how the Pathfinder approaches opportunities and challenges and, through its values, defines the unique attributes of a Pathfinder.
For example, a Pathfinder identifies a need and is motivated to address it, innovating and adapting as they go. They don’t wait for permission to proceed, a clear path or playbook, but rather pave their own way. There is no playbook with AI right now.
Also, a Pathfinder thrives in uncertain and vague situations, demonstrating expertise and comfort in navigating such environments.
They are adept at rapidly processing information, evaluating the situation, and making informed decisions based on evidence. They’re willing to pivot when necessary and are constantly attuned to the changing environment, ready to adjust as evidence dictates.
Equally, a Pathfinder is capable of thinking outside the box and introducing new ideas, and possesses the judgment to know when and where to apply that innovation.
This module addresses the skills related to the way Pathfinders perceive the world – how they process information and what they value.
A Pathfinder has a willingness and eagerness to explore unknown territories, seek out new experiences, and embrace unfamiliar concepts. They are open and receptive to new information. The approach of the Pathfinder is reflected in a generative ‘curiosity’ that can seek and find new approaches when plans don’t work as intended (i.e., most of the time).
A Pathfinder approaches challenges with a hopeful and positive outlook, confidently pioneering new solutions and forging ahead, even when faced with uncertainty or adversity.
People cannot get everything about AI correct, it’s moving too fast. Understanding that things will be missed and being able to understand it’s part of the process is critical.
Successful Pathfinders recognize that the rewards they pursue are on the other side of many unknowns and long hours – and therefore they need to be motivated by deeper sources than near-term financial reward or the forthcoming acclaim of peers.
A Pathfinder has an internal, non-material motivation coupled with the need to improve and create.
They also have a deep-seated, inherent drive to construct or create, rather than being motivated solely by external factors like compensation or recognition.
Understanding and staying on top of the development in artificial intelligence will not always have an immediate payoff—the ultimate unknown.
This module covers how the Pathfinder deals with adversity. Broadly, they don’t just overcome adversity, but use it as a catalyst for positive change or growth.
A Pathfinder actively seeks lessons from setbacks and is unafraid of the iterative process of trial and error. They can take action, often without needing all the data. They are comfortable with their intuition and enjoy initiating new ventures, projects, or opportunities, with an exploratory mindset.
A Pathfinder sees the broader, interconnected picture, understanding the nuances and interplay between different parts of a system.
We are quickly forgetting a number of the lessons that COVID-19 pandemic provided. One of which is the importance of developing and maintaining relationships—which is every harder with more work being done remotely.
A Pathfinder requires both starting and maintaining vibrant relationships, not exploiting contacts for short-term gains.
What do relationships have to do with AI? It’s not the technology, it’s how you will choose to use and implement it. Those conversations about strategies, governance issues, policies, procedures, and the impacts all those will have are all built on relationships between colleagues.
Prioritizing people and having strong communication skills are key.
Having strong relationships also means having practical humility. When looking at AI, there are limited resources and lack of structure about how to deal with the issues that arise. Pathfinders are willing to deal with the “muck” by undertaking tasks those more entitled may feel are beneath them. Additionally, Pathfinders must be willing to help others along the journey.
Some people thrive with this level of freedom to figure things out. However, freedom comes with a level of responsibility and accountability.
The fact is, we are all new to the world of AI. Even “experts” in the field are still learning things at a fast and furious clip.
We need to bring each other along, not build up silos to keep people out.
As you can see, when it comes to the world of AI, which continues to evolve at blurring pace, developing Pathfinder attributes will help you thrive.