4 Ways to Build a Human Company in the Age of Machines

TED Talks: 4 ways to build a human company in the age of machines. Tim Leberecht (Filmed June 2016 at TEDSummit)

8 Key Takeaways:

1. Four ways to build a human company

  • Do the unnecessary

  • Create intimacy

  • Be ugly

  • Remain incomplete

2. I want our organizations to remain human. In fact, I want them to become beautiful. Because as machines take our jobs and do them more efficiently, soon the only work left for us humans will be the kind of work that must be done beautifully rather than efficiently.

3. To maintain our humanity in the this second Machine Age, we may have no other choice than to create beauty. Beauty is an elusive concept. For the writer Stendhal it was the promise of happiness.

4. Do the unnecessary

A few months ago, Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO and founder of the yogurt company Chobani, made headlines when he decided to grant stock to all of his 2,000 employees. Some called it a PR stunt, others -- a genuine act of giving back. There had been no market or stakeholder pressure, and employees were so surprised that they burst into tears when they heard the news. Actions like Ulukaya's are beautiful because they catch us off guard. They create something out of nothing because they're completely unnecessary. You might not always realize it, but when you cut the unnecessary, you cut everything. Leading with beauty means rising above what is merely necessary.

5. Create intimacy

Studies show that how we feel about our workplace very much depends on the relationships with our coworkers. So how do we design for organizational intimacy? The humanitarian organization CARE wanted to launch a campaign on gender equality in villages in northern India.But it realized quickly that it had to have this conversation first with its own staff. So it invited all 36 team members and their partners to one of the Khajuraho Temples,known for their famous erotic sculptures. And there they openly discussed their personal relationships -- their own experiences of gender equality with the coworkers and the partners. Not only did it allow them to relate to the communities they serve, it also broke down invisible barriers and created a lasting bond amongst themselves. Not a single team member quit in the next four years. So this is how you create intimacy.

6. Be ugly

So many organizations these days are keen on designing beautiful workplaces that look like anything but work: vacation resorts, coffee shops, playgrounds or college campuses. That kind of beautiful language only goes "skin deep, but ugly cuts clean to the bone," as the writer Dorothy Parker once put it. To be authentic is to be ugly. It doesn't mean that you can't have fun or must give in to the vulgar or cynical, but it does mean that you speak the actual ugly truth.

A manufacturer that wanted to transform one of its struggling business units. It identified, named and pinned on large boards all the issues -- and there were hundreds of them -- that had become obstacles to better performance. They put them on boards, moved them all into one room, which they called "the ugly room." The ugly became visible for everyone to see -- it was celebrated.

7. Remain Incomplete

Beautiful organizations keep asking questions. They remain incomplete. The most beautiful organizations are ideas worth fighting for -- even and especially when their outcome is uncertain. They are movements; they are always imperfect, never fully organized,so they avoid ever becoming banal. They have something but we don't know what it is. They remain mysterious; we can't take our eyes off them. We find them beautiful.

8. Beauty can save the world when we embrace these principles and design for them.In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need a new radical humanism. We must acquire and promote a new aesthetic and sentimental education. Because if we don't, we might end up feeling like aliens in organizations and societies that are full of smart machines that have no appreciation whatsoever for the unnecessary, the intimate, the incomplete and definitely not for the ugly.

"The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human." ~ Aaron Carter


#ChangeManagement #Startup #Inspiration #Leadership #Idea #ThinkDifferently

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