The degree of automation in our world is increasing dramatically. On any given day, you might have the Amazon Echo read you the news, order a coffee from the Starbucks App, or check yourself out at the grocery store. Our medical care is becoming computer-driven, and even our cars are starting to drive us around instead of the historical inverse. While this is extremely exciting for businesses and active individuals like me who are always looking for ways to improve efficiency, I can not help but worry that without a shift in leadership values, that the lasting impact on future generations will be detrimental.
The boxes that we put people in are getting smaller and smaller. Fast food employees are timed and judged on how long it takes them to complete their specific tasks, support staff in hospitals are monitored digitally for efficiency improvements, and young professionals are kept on task by laptops that are continually monitored by HR. People are instructed to follow a process, which is great until the process breaks or becomes out-dated. What then? As the current ruling class of bosses and business owners that set our employees on the narrow, constantly overseen trails we have blazed, are we setting them up to solve future problems? Or when things inevitably adjust, will the processes we have worked so hard to create and perfect become problems themselves?
Throughout my decades as a leader in the business world I have learned two very important lessons; 1) Humans are highly adaptable and more often than not, will rise to the occasion, and 2) With proper education and preparation, that first lesson can be much less painful. Do not set up your business, employees, and children for the world as it is today. Things that are highly competitive and sought after today may be a dime a dozen tomorrow. Take this very blog as an example. This entire website is powered through Squarespace, a platform that allows me to create and customize my own content. 20 years ago I would have paid someone a lot of money to create something this slick for me, but now the process is automated. What's the programmer from the 90s doing today?
I like to use the analogy of hitting a golfball. So many things can happen between the ball making contact with your club and it's fall to the earth. Wind and weather interfer, but even on the stillest, clearest of days, the world starts rotating under the ball the second you hit it. The best golfers understand those potential influences, and can account for them. Why should business owners and parents be any different?
My advice to you is to be prepared for the hook.