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The WEIRD CEO – why ‘business as usual’ will soon be a thing of the past.

Posted 17th October 2018

The WEIRD CEO – why ‘business as usual’ will soon be a thing of the past

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered by Big Data is bringing radical change to our daily lives (just look at how much Google translate has improved over the last five years), and businesses of all kinds are realizing just how much they could improve using this technology.

But with radical technology comes wide-scale disruption, and organisations that do not adapt themselves to embrace these new technologies will not survive for long. The very structures that we have clung to for so long have been holding us back, and once AI takes over the vast majority of current occupations the world of work will never be the same.


Ordinary vs. WEIRD

Hierarchical structures have dominated the business world since the first industrial revolution, with CEOs and managers still opting to decide on the day-to-day operations of the company. But this structure will not hold up for long, as employees who are purposefully blinkered into repeating the same set of processes without knowing anything more about the company will soon be in danger of having their work automated by AI.

Giving employees the freedom to decide what is best for their work is already having a tangible effect on businesses, and this agile approach will be crucial in future as any process becomes automated by AI. Allowing people to understand how they fit in with the company as a whole will allow them to guide the work of computers in the near future, and to fit these processes into the wider context of the business. To make this transition, managers and CEOs need to give up control and adopt a framework that encourages individual responsibility and ownership in employees – otherwise they risk losing their workforce to more forward-thinking companies, or losing the human element as AI enters the workplace.


Getting WEIRD with it

At our company, Pod Group, we saw the need to change, and came up with a framework called WEIRD that encourages our most human attributes – Wisdom, Emotional intelligence, Initiative, Responsibility and Development (WEIRD) – so that we can adapt to a future where all process-driven work will be automated. Our ability to think creatively is being stifled by organisational structures that restrict information, dictate salaries, holidays and where you should work, and kill the passion for work by making sure people never think outside of their box.

Rather than changing this piece by piece, we decided to flip the whole thing on its head, to give employees total freedom and a sense of ownership over their work. We released all finances to everyone, including salaries, so that everyone can make decisions about their work with all relevant information at hand. We let people work wherever and whenever they want, so that people can feel comfortable and not pressured to be in an environment that is not productive for them. We also make sure that managers and department heads (now their titles are purely for external purposes) don’t make decisions for their team without seeking advice first, so that everyone feels that their expert opinion is valued and included in the way the company runs.


Change for the better

Our framework is a mindset, not a method, and is designed to build on an existing company culture, but those core human attributes should always be at the heart of any organisational change, so that old habits don’t creep back in. The new book by our CEO Charles Towers-Clark, The WEIRD CEO, sets out in great detail why we need to change our way of thinking to get ready for when AI dominates the workplace. He also outlines the successes and failures we experienced as we moved towards being a more flexible organisation, and how we tweaked the framework to suit us once we had agreed the first steps collectively.

For any company that needs help to change their organisation, or anyone that is interested in a completely new approach to management, sign up for your copy of The WEIRD CEO today and be amongst the first to prepare for the future of work.

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