How Project Leaders Can Thrive in a Time of Advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI)


How Project Leaders Can Thrive in a Time of Advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI)


The Importance of Being Human in the Midst of Increased Automation

Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) continue to illicit concerns from workers about job security. As automation increases, more manual and button-pushing jobs will be taken over by machines. While it is tempting to fear the loss of jobs to machines, AI shouldn’t be considered a replacement, but rather an integration into the project-oriented workforce. Focusing on the need for humans even in the midst of automation not only aids in keeping jobs for people, but can also help hone the development of AI towards its best use.

By viewing AI more as an opportunity rather than a threat, these three tips can help you overcome the challenges of standing out in this new digital age:

  1. Be More Human
    AI is intended to handle monotonous and repetitive tasks, which in turn frees up human minds to do things only humans can do. As theoretical and computational neuroscientist Dr. Vivienne Ming puts it, “Exploring the unknown is outside the capabilities of machine learning.” Humans still possess capabilities that can never really be programmed into machines. From a project management perspective, this is particularly poignant. So many skills a project leader needs to be successful focus on emotional intelligence and developing relationships between people. Honing these soft skills creates a more effective division of labor wherein people are doing things that can only be done by humans, and machines can handle mundane tasks.
  2. Embrace the Challenge
    AI is not the adversary of humans in the sense that it is diabolically plotting to take over the world. AI should be used for advancement rather than a vehicle to help us become complacent. As automation takes over tasks that require less thinking, humans are freed up to innovate. As a project leader, you have the opportunity to spend your time developing processes and relationships that may otherwise fall by the wayside in the face of necessary but tedious tasks. By allowing AI to function as a helper rather than as a manager, you can embrace new challenges and advance your organization.
  3. Take the Opportunity to Fail
    In the midst of automation “perfecting” processes, humans need to continue exploring opportunities. One of the best ways to do that is to fail—fast and cheap. In order to stay relevant, organizations need to continue to innovate and test ideas in ways that allow failure without devastating consequences, which helps keep your organization moving forward. Project leaders in particular have the opportunity to facilitate these experiments and help their organizations advance so that even as AI’s presence grows, it can play a supporting role, rather than a threatening one.

AI’s role in the workforce is increasing, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be the adversary or the gateway to human complacency. Within project-focused organizations, working cooperatively with AI — while taking time to develop your soft skills and adaptive leadership capabilities — can open the door to new ideas and opportunities to advance your company in ways only humans can.