Guest post by Mary McGuire, author of the book Coming Home To You. Mary is also a transformation consultant for global companies and provides expert advice on learning how to handle emotions and accept change.
There has been a lot of talk lately of how Artificial Intelligence will change every aspect of our lives from how we work, how we eat, how we sleep and how we relate to others. There’s no doubt the rise and rise of artificial intelligence is having in every aspect of our daily lives. We only have to look at the stock market, which is run by bots, to see the profound impact the technology is having on the overall stock market value. Algorithms and impassionate trading have taken over from the herd mentality of the bull and bear-ish trading of humans.
But despite our increasing reliance on technology and our belief it will bring the much-vaulted improvements to our lives, we still see high levels of dissatisfaction with the results.
We cannot get away from this one fact, that all this technology is at the end of the day designed to make our lives easier, simpler and more enjoyable. Yet this is not our reality. My work as a transformation consultant brings me into some of the world’s largest companies, at the point when they are making big changes to their structures and technology platforms. They are not just looking for improvement in processes, but in relationships as well. They want people to collaborate more, to be more creative and to find better ways of working. In short, they want people to use their whole brain at work.
So on the face of it we have competing demands. We want technology to take the strain out of our busy lives, yet we want our people to bring more of themselves to work, to be more authentic and more engaged in the process of co-creating our existence.
When I first joined the world of business, I did so with a sense of shame about my humble beginnings. Coming as I did from inner city Birmingham, from poorly educated parents, an alcoholic father and very few qualifications from my secondary modern education, I believed that I was not good enough. My dearest wish in my early days at work was to fit in and not to bring attention to myself. I did not bring my whole brain to work and I was not entirely authentic in my dealings with others, because I did not feel worthy of their respect.
What has this got to do with the increased use of technology in the workplace you might ask? Well, it’s this; we need to be able to merge the two sides of the coin in how we modernise and enable our workplace. We cannot assume that the next cloud platform, or new software application, or new product will simply solve our human needs and make us better and more productive people. For that we need the humanity of bringing our whole selves to work. We need a climate of discovery, a tolerance for mistakes and an encouragement of the childlike curiosity that helps us to solve big problems.
Technology will rarely dig us out of a hole that we have created for ourselves, but it might provide a better roadmap on how we can avoid it in the future. But to understand this, we need to know the hearts and minds of our people. We need to lead them well and give them opportunity to challenge us as leaders and challenge the decisions we are making about how to run the business. That includes the decisions about technology. The more open and receptive a culture, the more authentic the workforce will become and as a result the better the collective decisions it will make.
We effectively build organisational resilience, so that for every knock back, we have an opportunity to learn, to grow and become even better. We can use these experiences to power us forward towards success. My own personal transformation from humble beginnings to the resilient transformation leader and writer that I am today, came from my understanding that we find a better way by marrying the needs of the individual with the needs of the organisation. We marry the opportunities that technology can bring with the opportunity to have deeper more meaningful dialogue at work. We encourage curiosity, exploration and even some degree of failure, so that our successes can be built on collective knowledge and better choices around the technology we use to power our work.
Mary McGuire holds an MBA, an MSc in Human Resources and is Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). For the last 20 years she has worked as an international business consultant, working with companies and leaders all over the world. Her first book ‘Coming Home to You’ focuses on how we can build our personal resilience and is available on www.findyourjoyfullife.com and on Amazon. Email: [email protected]