With the introduction of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, the world has begun to change at a rapid pace that is not slowing down any time soon. Each stage of the Industrial Revolution has seen an advancement that has changed human lives in ways we never thought possible. Most people believe that the Industrial Revolution ended back in the 1800s. Still, in reality, we are living in a stage now.
During the Emory over 40 lecture, Dr. John B. Banja described the stages of the Industrial Revolution as
Dr. Banja went on to describe the different AI stages and their timelines as the following:
- Narrow AI – happening now
- General AI – 20 years from now
- Super AI – 50 years from now
It is interesting to think that we are only in the narrow AI stage. Of course, many of us thought by 2020, we were going to be like the Jetsons with flying cars. Even though each of us does not have flying cars, we are in a time in which technology is changing our lives daily.
AI and People
As more and more businesses move into the world of using some form of AI, we need to stop and think about how this is going to affect our workforce. We used to throw things over the fence and not think about upstream and downstream when it comes to processes. We did not stop to think about how changes would affect the process and people performing things steps. We are not looking at the whole picture. Technology and AI are being introduced globally into all industries and businesses. Depending on the industry and the type of job being performed, technology is taking the Human out of the workforce. We are losing the human side of things.
Businesses are becoming very LEAN and very stable, but are they too lean and stable? Are these organizations able to change or become fluid when the market needs them to change? Are these organizations missing something? Is the business culture becoming damage? What is happening to our employees? How does this affect our customers?
People are not waste
When we take a hard look at these types of organizations, we see that people are becoming a waste. The waste is happening right in front of our eyes, and we are missing this critical factor. We are losing the balance between stability and flexibility. If people become waste, organizations will begin to suffer. W. Edward Deming put it best “If you destroy the people of a company, you do not have much left.” When using Lean Six Sigma to look at an organization, we do not only need to look at the customer, but we also need to remember to look at the employees of an organization. If the people within an organization are not happy, this will start to affect an organization’s customers.
The further technology advances, the more afraid people will become. We will start to see talent underutilized at all levels (from the bottom to the CEO). Employees of an organization will start to feel that they do not matter; they will feel that the technology that was supposed to make things easier, will make things harder. Employees will be unsure where they fit into the new lean organizations. Are the machines going to take away their jobs? Will there be a place for humans and technology to existing together?
Putting the human back in technology
Looking back in history, Henry Ford was able to take the production of the Ford Model T down from days to hours. With the introduction of this type of manufacturing, Henry Ford took the Human out of manufacturing with the following results:
- No customization = complete standardization
- Unskilled workforce with the use of machines
The Model T was produced in mass quantities, but each Model T was exactly the same. At that time, Ford was answering the call of the market, but he did not look into the future. Henry Ford was too lean and ridged to pivot with the changes for the market place. As the automobile become easier to obtain, other car manufacturers began to see that the consumer wanted more options than want the Model T was providing. These other manufacturers were looking toward the future to find new ways to do things.
Sakichi Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota answered the call from the market with quality and customization within automobiles. With the introduction of Lean Manufacturing, the Human was put back into manufacturing. Quality and customizable cars were introduced and produced at the rate customers wanted. Within the Lean system, there was a highly skilled human workforce that used machines. The workforce felt empowered to think and create quality products. Toyota cars were not dull, but they were also very dependable.
Can the Human be put back into technology, just like the way Human was put back into manufacturing? Whabout using the same concept with technology and AI? Lean and AI or technology can be used together. Lean can put the human back into technology. As we move into advanced stages of AI and technology, humans should feel empowered. There is a place where AI and humans can co-exist. By leveraging Lean Six Sigma to help with AI, we can do the following:
- Ensure processes are stable and standardize
- Introduced the right type of AI into the right processes
- Use the people with the organization to identify the right areas to use AI
- Train the workforce on the new technology
- Ensure that AI is being used the right way
- Empower people to learn new skills to stay relevant in the new environment
- Introduce Continous Improvement within all levels of the organization
- Organizations can become fluid and stable
- Remove as much waste as possible
With the use of Lean, we will remove the barriers we saw with the Model T. As we move further into the AI revolution, Lean will help all levels of an organization to see where people and technology can be used together to create organizations that are successful for years to come.