How To Survive the AI Disruption

Career Blog

When machines disrupted factory work, people transitioned to knowledge work. Now with artificial intelligence set to disrupt the white-collar workforce, employees must transition to “Impact Work” – efforts that create or enhance an organization’s competitive advantage. 

Like its production line predecessors, AI can generate more “product” at a faster rate. Ultimately, the produced quality may exceed our output as well. But the true difference…the gap I doubt will ever be crossed, lies in the insightful, “Ah-ha” moments only human intervention can provide.

Let’s face it. AI is only disrupting the elements of our jobs that we never wanted to do. If your professional output is calculated by efficiency metrics – how much and how fast, you’re doomed. But if you deliver value…if you create impact through N of one innovation, then you’re safe. 

For example, AI can write this article in a nano second. It can spin an endless web of citations and listicles. But it can’t provide the quote I just conceived, the one that simultaneously gives the tool a hug and a punch in the mouth.

So what to do?

Organizations should partner with colleges that treat AI like the calculator it is – ones that teach students how to use the tool, but also impart the understanding that a person’s X-factor rarely resides in sameness. 

As for workers, they’ll need to shift to value-based work. The days of counting widgets and watching the clock are over. For years savvy organizations paid for performance. That was a great start – a fair, yet near-term focus. The new world requires a longer-term, more strategic view of what really matters. Soon people will be paid for the value of their contributions regardless of the time involved.

If AI disrupts anything it will be how we think about our individual impact. Want to safely ride the change curve? Get thinking.

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