Moore’s Law, AI, Pathfinders, and the Optimal Business Structure

Steve LudwigVUCALeave a Comment

The letters AI denoting Artificial Intelligence

The transformative influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on both businesses and individuals is poised to reshape the socio-economic landscape profoundly, transcending the pace constraints previously encapsulated by Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law, the axiom that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles approximately every two years, thereby increasing computing power while reducing cost, has long served as a reliable forecast for technological progression.

However, the advent of AI challenges this model, offering an unprecedented acceleration in the development and implementation of intelligent, automated systems that foster efficiency, innovation, and value creation within various sectors.

The indescribable pace of AI-driven change is characterized not merely by the speed of technological advancements but also by the unparalleled breadth and depth of its applications and impact.

For businesses, AI unleashes an array of opportunities and tools that empower them to enhance operational efficiency, drive customer engagement, and forge innovative products and services. From automating mundane tasks and optimizing supply chains to personalizing customer experiences and augmenting decision-making processes, AI serves as a pivotal force in steering companies toward a more agile, responsive, and intelligent modus operandi.

Individuals stand to gain from the advent of sophisticated AI applications that offer personalized healthcare, advanced educational tools, smart home systems, and enhanced accessibility features, thereby improving the quality of life and expanding the realm of possibilities for people across the globe.

This synergy between AI and various facets of human life heralds a future where technology significantly influences and elevates the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. That’s the upside.

But how will AI impact the individual? What changes will they need to make to flourish in a new age of AI? Same with businesses. Will organizational tweaks be enough to harness the benefits of AI or will a complete new mindset be needed to thrive? This article is a primer for deeper, more considered content to follow.

Individual Impact

The downside from an individual knowledge-worker perspective is that whoever you are, whatever you do, you need to keep moving to higher levels of value add/abstraction, or else AI will replace you. It is already clear that some workers at the lower level of the “value chain” are going to get disrupted.

The advent of Lotus 1-2-3 is a prime example. People that spent all day crunching numbers were put out of work. The math and accounting that could take them hours to do were done with a click of a mouse. Accountants needed to provide more than just numbers; they had to start helping answer what the numbers meant and strategies for savings and investments. AI will do the same thing but across industries and job categories.

Writers in Hollywood knew that AI was a threat to their livelihood, which is why they went on strike. It would be too easy for studios to use AI to spit out scripts and hire writers—for a fraction—to clean them up. As the greatest time is often spent coming up with and refining ideas, a lot of people would be out of work.

While the writers gained concessions limiting the use of AI in Hollywood, most of us won’t be as lucky. Indeed, research is already highlighting the impact of AI as being greatest on higher paid jobs and not just impacting the lower level of the “value chain”. Individuals with a Pathfinder disposition will flourish most in what is to come.

Workplace Structure

The best leaders worry about how to put people in roles that best suit the individual and the organization.

When dealing with something new and unpredictable, having Pathfinders on your team is critical. They have the set of skills and attitudes that help them navigate difficult and new terrain.

So, in this world of AI and unknown change, would a business be better protected if it only employed Pathfinders? Probably not. Not everyone can, nor should, be a Pathfinder.

Should you have more than one Pathfinder, absolutely.

A more interesting question is how can you create an organization that has a Pathfinder mindset or has a team or teams dedicated to being your organization’s Pathfinders?

There are scores of stories about how businesses became complacent, were disrupted, and went away. Think of the U.S. businesses of Sears, Blockbuster, and Borders Books. The seminal business book on the subject is Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, which is well worth a read.

Another example is from the oil and gas industry. When the United States went through its initial shale oil boom that added over 168,000 jobs between 2010 and 2012, the major oil companies tried to get in on the act. Many lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Why? Their companies were set up to manage a few multibillion-dollar mega projects. In contrast, drilling for shale required hundreds of wells. And the technology and techniques evolved rapidly, rewarding those that were nimble and adaptable—not words associated with big oil.

The big oil companies adapted later by buying successful shale producers.

Were there Pathfinders at the oil companies, Sears, Blockbuster, and Borders? Of course. Were they listened to? Apparently not.

The corporate culture and structures were not receptive to what the Pathfinders saw. AI will accelerate these threats and enable many, left-field new entrants to markets.

Creating an Organizational Pathfinder Disposition

Billions of dollars are spent on hard costs and opportunity costs every year through organizational restructuring. Entire companies are set up just to help firms do this very thing. While structures matter, leaders often overlook the critical role that culture and mindsets play in their ongoing success.

With AI and its changes, focusing on developing the right dispositions for adaptability and resiliency is more important than ever—the Pathfinder.

How do you go about creating a Pathfinder culture or having Pathfinder teams to ensure that you will not just be responding to what AI does but can take advantage of what that and other technologies bring to the table?

We will cover this in the next few blog posts. We will look at what makes Pathfinders unique, how to identify Pathfinders within your organization, how individuals can build their Pathfinder skillsets, how you can create Pathfinder teams, and how you can help create an organizational culture that is more open to the Pathfinders disposition.

This series of articles will help individuals and leaders develop stronger skill set and create a robust culture that will be well positioned to help take advantage and prepare for the disruptions that artificial intelligence will inevitably bring.

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