If you read or listen to the news you know that there are frequent news stories about job Displacement caused by Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Automation. These stories paint a bleak picture in the not so far off future where humans will have nothing to do in a world full of automation. Here are some examples:
- Huffington Post – “Robots & AI Will Likely Claim Your Job, Sooner Than You Think” (Link)
- CNBC – “Self-driving cars could cost America’s professional drivers up to 25,000 jobs a month, Goldman Sachs says” (Link)
- Brookings – “AI should worry skilled knowledge workers too“ (Link)
Can all of this be true? How close are we to this kind of reality? Are Project Management Professionals doomed to losing our livelihoods in the coming AI Job apocalypse? Let’s each ask ourselves the following questions:
- Do you personally know anyone who has lost their job due to automation? I am not talking about job loss due to obsolescence or job loss due to off-shoring. I am talking about someone who you personally know whose job has almost entirely been taken over by some kind of machine. Has this ever happened to someone you know?
- Next time you are setting at your next traffic light, look out your window. Do you see any cars that are fully automated? Sure, this might be happening in pockets of Phoenix, AZ where it rarely snows, but comment on this article if you have come across such a thing. I especially want to hear all of the comments about self-driving cars that are driving in blizzard like conditions or in torrential rain where road markings are obscured by weather conditions.
- Has a robot made any of your deliveries?
- Is your primary care physician a robot? What about your lawyer? Your child’s teacher? Do any of these apply? Again, leave a comment.
- How automated is your Project Management process? Or more importantly, how eager is your cost center manager to make a big investment in Project Management automation?
Do the answers to these questions comfort you?
Here is what I think everyone should do when it comes to any type of initiative that provides automation. First, relax! Automation is difficult. It takes a lot of time to achieve automation. Automating a situation takes complex computer algorithms, a task made more difficult by shifting business decisions. Every new business direction or change in corporate strategy likely impairs an organization’s ability to automate.
Second, remember that automation results in a greater demand for labor. In other words, automation is an opportunity to be employed. It is not a threat to employment. This is because, for the most part, automated routines do not code themselves. It still takes humans to do it, which means the creation of more jobs. If you have the skills to automate then you are employable. It is just that simple.
Third, know that the reality of the job market is a competitive market and that you must take every opportunity to provide value daily. The basic rules around building and maintaining your brand still apply. These include:
- Being both optimistic and helpful.
- Communicate clearly, being sure to listen and understand what your clients are telling you.
- Be flexible towards changing situations.
- Show leadership. Lead your project teams in achieving the business outcomes your project was intended to achieve.
Many of these same points can be found in my article “8 Practices You Need To Follow To Guarantee A Valuable Personal Brand“ (Link). Simply put, if your brand is valuable then you don’t need to continually look over your shoulder wondering if you will be employed next week. You can just continue to focus on capitalizing on opportunity after opportunity after opportunity.
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I hope this article helps to change some mindsets around automation. Those of us with strong skills and strong personal brands have nothing to fear from automation. At the end of the day, automation will result in each of us being able to focus on getting work done more efficiently. This doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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