Once upon a time, there was a clever little fox who lived in a forest. He loved to play and explore, but one winter day, he woke up to find that the ground was covered in fluffy white snow.
At first, the little fox was very excited. He had never seen snow before, and he ran around in circles, jumping and playing in the cold, soft powder.
But as the day went on, the snow began to pile up higher and higher, until the little fox found himself buried up to his neck! He tried to dig himself out, but the snow was too deep and too heavy.
Feeling cold, scared, and alone, the little fox began to cry. But then, he remembered something his mother had told him. “If you’re ever in trouble,” she had said, “just close your eyes and think. You are clever, and you will find a way out.”
So the little fox closed his eyes and thought hard. And then, he remembered another thing his mother had told him. “In the winter,” she had said, “you can always find food and shelter if you look hard enough.”
So the little fox opened his eyes and began to look around. And sure enough, he soon spotted a little hole in the side of a nearby hill. It was just big enough for him to squeeze into, and it was warm and cozy inside.
The little fox curled up in the hole and waited out the snowstorm. And when it was over, he emerged into a beautiful winter wonderland, where the snow glistened in the sunlight and everything was clean and bright.
From that day on, the little fox knew that even in the harshest of winters, there was always a way to survive if you use your cleverness and your wits. And he lived happily ever after, exploring the snow-covered forest and always remembering the lessons he had learned.
In the news this week, we have heard how Nicola Sturgeon has decided to step down. Regardless of my political persuasion, I do have admiration for a leader that stays leading the organisation for the period of time that Nicola has. To take a decision to do something different is a difficult one and takes courage.
Over the last few years, we have seen a new term ‘quiet quitting’ starting to appear in the employment world. This is when employees are putting other priorities above work – regaining partial control of what personally matters in the work/life dilemma. The impact is that staff are either quietly cutting back from the job – perhaps by reducing their discretionary effort, or by changing jobs (although I probably wouldn’t put that in the quiet quitting definition).
This has an organisational impact. Performance and motivation can suffer – being exacerbated through the still present hybrid culture. Managing organisation and being in touch with the culture of organisation, therefore, has never been more important.
However, also coming out of quiet quitting is quiet hiring. Quiet hiring is the retraining, repurposing or upskilling of staff to match talent demand – so is not necessarily about an increase in headcount. The organisation needs to be mildly sophisticated. It needs to have a handle on the talent gap and future requirements – matching required skillset, to existing capability.
This could be through an analysis of similar (perhaps non identical) role in job description
Redefinition (or probably creation) of job description – remembering that a material change could suggest a redundancy consultation requirement
An open conversation, probably through an open review process of wishes, desires and interests of staff. Remembering that if we can identify areas that people are interested in, it is likely that we will achieve greater performance.
Despite the media frenzy surrounding people leaving business in droves, there is therefore also another opportunity. Something that if managed correctly, could lead to organisational improvement and performance.
People that know me, understand that I have a fascination in technology – especially some that can be of real value to humanity over the coming years.
The term Artificial Intelligence is a catch all. Some have described the term as a suitcase in which anything that can lead to some form of predictive action can be bundled into. There are advantages and disadvantages and certainly the subject provokes both positive and negative reactions. This acknowledged, where are we are the moment in terms of capability.
Some may think that this is a new term, but the principles have been considered for some time. If we think back to the work of Alan Turing in the Second World War (made famous through the film – The Imitation Game), there was evidence here and in a subsequent seminal piece on Machine Learning.
We have been fantasising and allowing for creative release through films like Terminator and the robot Maximillian in 2001 – a space odyssey. But clever systems do not need to be simply linked to a human shape. We make them such so that we can adopt them into our society.
Lets start at the beginning.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. These processes include learning (the ability to improve performance based on experience), reasoning (the ability to draw conclusions based on logical rules), and self-correction. AI is a broad field that encompasses many different sub-disciplines, including machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, and computer vision. The goal of Artificial Intelligence research is to create systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing objects in images, and making decisions.
Chat GPT and AI
In November 2022 – there was a pivotal moment in AI history as the ChatGPT engine was released from testing. ChatGPT is an open system allowing you to ask for a verbal narrative, to which it then ‘creates’ the text.
For example, “What are the main steps in making a vegetarian pie” delivers
Prepare the crust: Mix flour, salt, and butter or a plant-based alternative to make the crust. Press the mixture into a pie dish and set it aside.
Prepare the filling: Cook vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, and carrots in a pan with oil and spices. You can also add in plant-based protein sources such as lentils or tofu.
Assemble the pie: Pour the filling into the prepared crust and top it with a second layer of crust, pressing the edges to seal it.
Bake the pie: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Serve and Enjoy!
As you can tell, this is quite generic and could have been pulled from a search engine.
This is where it gets interesting.
Speaking to a student recently, their goto for helping understanding around a complex problem, has been ChatGPT – not Google!
Google is worried as are other search engine companies that rely on advertising revenues as this new disruptor appears on the scene. The Google leadership team even going as far as issuing a ‘code red’ on this technology as it could seriously dent the future of their business.
This is Artificial Intelligence reaching a new, perhaps useful and more mainstream stage.
Picture generation has not been left out of the equation, with Dall-e that turns a verbal description of a picture into an actual picture.
For example, typing in “An astronaut riding a horse in a photorealistic style” generates this image.
The Six Stages of Artificial Intelligence
In a McKinsey interview, Yuval Atsmon suggests that AI has six stages to its development. Some of these, stages 1 to 3, are becoming pretty mainstream in some areas.
I use Xero as an accounting package for my businesses. This is a simple process solution where I need to input details about transactions, and this then generates a certain level of reporting. Working with Expenses is a breeze. I take a picture of a receipt, the ‘system’ deciphers the receipt suggesting the amount, the vendor and even the cost code. Linked to the cost code is the VAT status – so at the very simplest levels we are operating in the top line of the diagram above. The consequential benefit is therefore a reduction in my time in generating accessing management accounts and tax returns – something that historically has relied on an accountant for, with the relative expense.
The use of dashboards enables clear and consistent view of performance, or process stage. Using tradition RAG (red, amber, green) status lists creates areas of discussion and exploration. The Artificial Intelligence process can remove bias, and internal social dynamics by creating a logical conclusion. One article describes having Artificial Intelligence reporting as having a Spock sat next to you. Brutal, logical and non transient.
Creation of dashboard type solutions is simple. Using systems such as Notion allows linking of critical resources and outcomes to display high level performance
Using GA4 (the latest incumbent analytics from Google) now includes language prompts to ask some of the basic outcomes –
how many users did I have in the week?
What devices are used mostly?
From the last question, I can see that for one of my sites 80% are using a desktop device and 20% mobile. This has a consequence as to investment decisions for responsive sites (mobile friendly), and also ask me a question, why is this so low when I know that mobile friendly sites are a pre-requisite for good ranking performance on search.
Despite being dismissive initially about the level of AI I am using, I find that I am already in the AI stack!
The decision is therefore not shall I embrace AI, it is about how I can incorporate the ever evolving technology to better my businesses and their performance.
Ultimately, we will get to a stage where AI removes the analysis and diagnostic phase. Human intent will resist the predictive phase and certainly hesitate over the delegation of complex decisions to AI.
As I write this, I realise that the content here is slightly on the edge – but I do this to provoke your thinking in an area that you may not be aware of. If you do find this tough, please accept my apologies, if you find this exciting, then please moderate.
How many times have you provided chocolate in some form in an intervention or coaching session?
Perhaps the intention was to keep blood sugar up mid-afternoon following lunch but perhaps you also understand that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) affects the way the brain works. Flavanols exist in cocoa (so the darker the chocolate the more Flavanols). Flavanols have an effect. They increase the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain, and the better your brain’s cognitive skills will be for a short time.
Nuts (walnuts especially) are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, whose absence has been linked to depression and cognitive deficiencies.
Whether this is a marketing ploy, or whatever, “The Problem Solver” beer can get people just drunk enough to boost brainpower. According to Chicago professor Jennifer Wiley, the average man produces his most creative thinking with an alcohol level of 0.075%.
So the question for you.
Is it ok to give people chocolate, nuts and beer to help improve their creativity and cognitive function?
But it does not stop there. In 2018, the Independent reported that ‘Microdosing’ LSD is not just a Silicon Valley trend. The outcomes are that the ‘users’ become more creative and focused. The practise, known as “microdosing”, involves taking minute quantities of drugs every few days.
It is well covered in news that Steve Jobs took LSD and marijuana. Jobs suggests that the latter helped him to ‘relax and made him more creative’.
There is also contradictory evidence that there is no impact in the use of cannabis on divergent thinking. In fact, there is an actual decrease in creativity when taking a larger amount of cannabis.
If you answered yes to the chocolate question, is it OK to introduce micro-dosing into your coaching, if you get better engagement?
Woah, steady Simon – where did that question come from, of course, it isn’t.
But, if there were no ‘legal’ restraints where would your line be ethically and morally?
From a personal perspective, I cannot condone the use of drugs to enhance performance.
If we dip across into high-performance sports, we understand the short-term performance impact, but like anything that we put into our high-performing bodies – this has an effect at some point.
For some, the expresso pick me up, or ‘start to the morning’ is fine – but at some point, as the caffeine hit wears off, tiredness kicks in or the need for another ‘addictive’ coffee fix hits.
A provocation today – enjoy your thinking and exploration.
It was a PC game where you spent hours in building up a city – ensuring that you had the best road infrastructure, rail network, schooling, housing, relationships, industry, factories, airports, and emergency services. These were then mapped and controlled by the ‘spend budget’ that you created. Things went really well until a ‘disaster’ happened – be that a typhoon, a flood, a dinosaur attack or an invasion of extraterrestrials. It didn’t matter how you ran the ‘budget’ you knew it was going to hurt and the imaginary newspapers told you that! Seemed like a harmless excursion.
Fast forward 20 or so years and we have COVID. It doesn’t matter what political colour you are, it doesn’t matter what infrastructure you have built – COVID hurts. Be it a loss of a loved one, a loss of a business or job, the collapse of a local economy, the anxiety that social distancing and isolation brings, the uncertainty about what 2021 holds for us or other as yet unknown – the message is clear.
We need to pull together as a community.
We need to do our ‘bit’ and we need to start to rebuild.
Cherish the ones we love,
Celebrate the small steps of achievement,
Encourage and support those in strife,
Let the pessimism (the wobble) co-exist with optimism.
Keep celebrating the small steps and party (metaphorically) on the big achievements.
Life will be tough, life will be different – but we need to pull together – period.