With the age of automation upon us and its empire growing each day, AI has become a regular, extra set of hands in the office.
The increase in the use of automation and AI has served to make working life easier, transcending sectors and roles. Whether it’s in procurement, in manufacturing, or through the use of digital twins, automation has a valuable role to play and, as we become more accustomed to robotics, software like ChatGPT and Viva make it far simpler to collate information, draft communications, create codes, and perform an endless list of tasks efficiently and swiftly.
However, cyberspace’s expansion into the human domain begs the question, is there less ‘original’ thought? No matter the perks, this level of automated working life may increase the risk that we begin to act like robots ourselves. Are we simply ‘going through the motions’ when it comes to work? Or can the rise of AI have the opposite effect, if leveraged correctly?
In fact, ‘human-in-the-loop automation’, or the collaboration between humans and machines, can be seen as a new frontier for diversity of thought.
The importance of people’s creativity can never be understated – and this is something I believe in wholeheartedly. But when combined with the enhancements that can be offered by AI, if the right questions or prompts are submitted, we can begin to explore potential new avenues or builds that would have not previously sprung to mind.
It goes without saying that diversity of thought cannot be achieved without having broad representation from different markets, ethnicities, genders and orientations. Varying views can help create a more holistic picture and often lead to more innovative, interesting ways to address a business challenge. Having variety ‘in the room’ is critical, and AI cannot serve as a replacement for this – genuine human insight is a goldmine that we can dig into for nuggets of information. But, through generative AI, there is the potential to dig deeper; or even to gather these nuggets alongside unearthed ‘gems’ of information, to create something priceless.
And the nature of generative AI, like ChatGPT, which has been designed with ease of use in mind, means that we can leverage it without delay. Simplicity lies in the framing of an appropriate prompt for the software – what you put in, and how well thought out your intended question is, will impact the response. For example, rather than asking for the best transport options from London to Dubai, you might ask about the different ways to make the same journey, and for detail on the pros and cons of these different options. To take it a step further, you could prompt it to reconsider the answer with a variety of travellers in mind, each with different experiences and preferences.
When considering how best to meet a business challenge, or to understand varied requirements to a new approach, inviting insights from different markets can mitigate thinking that is too ‘central’. Varying views create a more holistic picture and often lead to more innovative, interesting ways to address a business challenge – and leveraging generative AI to enhance diversity of thought, can be used to support better decision making.
Indeed, AI can be used to identify areas that organisations can improve in other ways, to increase diversity at the point of recruitment. It can be used to identify and address biases in decision-making processes - for example, if a company's recruitment process is skewed towards certain demographics, an AI model can identify that bias and suggest ways to address it. AI-powered collaboration tools can facilitate communication and idea-sharing among diverse teams. These tools can identify patterns and insights in discussions that might not be immediately apparent and can help ensure that all voices are heard.
Naturally, there has been a discourse towards a ‘fear’ of the rise in technology. There is concern that jobs can be replaced by machines but, to truly harness diversity of thought and explore new frontiers of creativity, we must think of it as less of an ‘us versus them’ or ‘humans versus tech’ attitude, but more about harnessing the power of technology to help us think outside the box.
An important consideration for any leader who is exploring how to encourage diversity of thought within their organisation, is how to provide colleagues with the right framework to challenge convention. Leaders looking to invigorate colleagues should encourage the embracement of innovation to, in turn, become more innovative and apply new ways of thinking. Using these tools in a creative way can encourage originality, and challenge convention.
Put simply, AI should be used to stimulate creativity and innovation, and greater diversity of thought. Innovation itself is about challenging conventionality and breaking out from the status quo. To do so, we cannot become robotic. Instead, we should work towards harnessing the power of en-vogue tech to propel insights to new heights.