By Eva Martins, global head of innovation at Novartis AG
AI is changing the way we live, the way we do business, the way we take decisions. There isn’t a single sector and industry that is not being affected and transformed. So how do leaders need to evolve in order to stay at the top of the game?
First and foremost, we need to understand that AI is a reality and its role is to amplify human genius through intelligent technology. AI is not about eliminating jobs but evolving them and eliminating repetitive and transactional tasks, increasing productivity, fast action and impact.
When adopted broadly, AI has the potential to aid leaders and the workforce by augmenting their skills, judgment and fast decision taking, supported by algorithms that can make suggestions to reach better conclusions than humans alone.
Moving from experienced and knowledge-based leaders to data-driven decisions
Leaders need to embrace a growth mindset, a mindset of innovation that is no longer sustained by acquired experience and past knowledge, but is curious, inquisitive, and responsive. Leaders need to be trained in asking the right questions instead of directing in a known and predictable environment.
Letting go of “I know everything, I am the expert” and moving to “I am willing to step into the unknown, to learn, iterate and test new things” is a must. It is no longer about creating an annual plan and executing it perfectly as decided upfront. It is about continuously deep diving into new insights, feedback from end users and, if needed, iterating and acting fast as new insights become available.
This cultural transformation is more likely to happen in an organisation that promotes experimentation, recognising more the learnings instead of failures, creating a safe environment for feedback and personal growth. It requires a cultural shift from being always right, knowing everything, being the number one; from a highly hierarchical top-down approach, with complex and bureaucratic governance systems and processes, to valuing a mindset of enablement, servant leadership, curiosity, asking the right questions, unleashing and empowering the organisation for fast iteration.
It is about moving from rigid structures and complex governance towards more flexibility, agility, responsiveness and adaptability.
The difficulty for most organisations is that their governance is not prepared for agile decision taking. Quarterly reviews, heavy structures and governances defeat AI in its fast decision-taking ability for constant iteration and evolution.
A shift from a top-down approach to ‘unbossing’ the organisation, empowering the teams to take decisions for fast iteration is a must to fully leverage the power of AI. By supporting, enhancing and augmenting workforce skills, AI can lead to highly engaged teams who realise how it can amplify their impact and results in the short term.
Any leader knows the importance of predicting market change, the impact of a product launch or any other shift, by correlating and making sense of different data points. The computing power of AI can considerably augment those capabilities in making sense of a much bigger database and in a much faster way, outperforming humans. AI has the power to exponentially augment the human genius if fully embraced.
New leaders need to be able to lead technology as well as businesses and teams. AI is no longer just for a few data scientists piloting new experiments. AI is transforming businesses, changing the way we take decisions, replacing repetitive tasks and giving superpowers to the workforce.
It is important to understand that AI applications are not perfect, and we need to learn with historical data in order to create patterns, test and learn, and become smarter with time. As leaders, we should let go of perfectionism and the idea that we need to have everything thought through before starting, as this approach does not survive with AI.
Change is always uncomfortable, but we have two solutions: we resist and do not survive this new era; or we embrace it, letting go of preconceived ideas, letting go of the need to be perfect. Embracing the fact that AI can add computer power to human creativity, curiosity and risk-taking will allow us to test and learn much faster than we have ever done before, increasing the return on investment, impact in the environment, in business and in our lives.
As leaders, it is important that we foster a safe environment that allows testing and learning, fast decision taking, flexibility and responsiveness to fully maximise the potential that AI brings to business to better serve our clients.
Insights in this article have been taken from the report AI in Healthcare: Perspectives on a Changing Sector from The AI Journal.
Eva Martins is an international best seller, speaker, coach and Global Head of Innovation at Novartis AG. She is responsible for driving innovative AI lighthouses to transform the company to better fit in the future healthcare landscape.
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