Enterprises should take advantage of promising new technology, but without a solid plan, there could be consequences. Here’s how to find the balance:

Entropy · It means the lack of order or predictability leading to a gradual decline into disorder.

This thermodynamics term has never before been applied to business operating models, but with new, controversial AI technology on the rise, could it?

When enterprise evolved at human speed, disorder could be tempered through planning, adjustments, and resets. There was a natural inclination to innovate as fast as we could prepare for. Now, as enterprise evolves at AI speed, if businesses aren’t proactive about their future plans, we can expect an entropic effect on operating models.

Business Entropy is our new, ultra-tricky reality of AI deployments. Like a runaway train, AI could descend into disorder and chaos if organizations opt for warp speed instead of a gradual, meticulous implementation of this powerful technology. But this isn’t some sci-fi thriller; we shouldn’t be afraid of AI, instead we should think first of our people.

Ignoring the inevitable consequences of AI for the sake of innovation will leave a large number of current employees in harm’s way. AI has no sense of humor. Its insatiable appetite will devour any inefficiencies and will quickly take out jobs. Like the old video game “PacMan,” imagine all those game screen dots as existing jobs and people. The goal of “PacMan” is to eliminate all those dots; we should expect the same from AI.

But this should give us hope, not despair. All this change is an opportunity for the harmonization of talent and technology to drive modern operating models. AI presents immense opportunities and threats for executives and boards. However, if leaders truly believe their people are the firm’s greatest assets, what is the plan to protect these assets?

Here are a few questions we’ve asked ourselves that we think every business should be contemplating to prepare for a new AI-Ready world:

How will your people be upskilled and led to higher ground, out of harm’s way of AI?

Are HR leaders working with IT/technology Leaders to map out the integration plan of Human and AI skill sets, creating what MIT’s Thomas Malone calls the organizational “SuperMind?”

Why is this mass migration of workers to higher ground good for business and your people?

What is your company’s budget and timeline to upskill employees that are currently in the crosshairs of AI?

Organizationally, who owns AI Deployment Impact Planning and Execution?

If AI creates entropic business operating models, how do leaders take advantage of AI’s efficiencies and speed without creating runaway chaos?

Unchecked, AI, theoretically, could take a 50,000 employee company to a small fraction of that headcount. Redeployment of people to enduring, valuable roles, is essential in this metamorphosis. Leadership has never before been presented with technologies that can forever change operating models, including cost structures, business value, organization charts, workforce configurations, and risk models in sprint speed.

As organizations push for a return to the office, we should keep in mind that worrying about or mandating where your people work is much less important than understanding what your people will do in an AI-ready world.

C-level leaders are paid to deliver on business outcomes and avoid chaos. Employees (and investors) should be reassured that their leaders have an AI Deployment Plan. And that should include, most importantly, how they plan to protect their most valuable asset: their people.

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