The Algorithmic Leader | Mike Walsh

Summary of: The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You
By: Mike Walsh

Introduction

Welcome to the world of algorithmic leadership, where machines become smarter and human leaders must learn to adapt in order to stay relevant. In ‘The Algorithmic Leader,’ author Mike Walsh urges readers to embrace the world of algorithms and understand the value they can bring to modern organizations. Throughout the book, Walsh breaks down complex topics like data management, automation, AI, ethics, and scalability to give readers a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities algorithmic leadership presents. Discover how to leverage algorithmic leadership concepts to create more efficient, productive teams and transform your organization into one that thrives in the age of machine learning.

Algorithmic leaders in the rhizome era

In the age of algorithms, effective leaders understand the value of connecting people, partners, and platforms to help their teams self-organize and operate in a rhizome structure. Algorithms facilitate the rhizome model for business, with their broad applications distributing themselves through the web. Being smart when machines are smarter than you requires leaders to become something new. Algorithms enable leaders and employees to apply their “human” skills more effectively. The best data are not deciding factors, but rather the capacity to connect people and platforms. To be a leader in the rhizome, reject outmoded structures like the tree.

The Rise of Algorithmic Leaders

Euclid, a Greek mathematician, was one of the first to create step-by-step instructions, known as algorithms. Over the years, algorithms have evolved in speed and power, with deep learning systems increasing their capabilities. These algorithms can learn and adapt, but cannot provide meaningful interpretations of their results. Humans are responsible for applying insights to transform organizations, create experiences, and reinvent the world. The journey of becoming an algorithmic leader involves personal accountability. Leaders must consider how machines interact with humans, impacting human behavior and identity. As we move into the algorithmic age, people’s lives will become more connected through networks. It’s important for algorithmic leaders to consider their users’ intentions based on behavior, interaction with platforms and services, and emotional responses. These three elements are cyclical and reinforce each other, allowing successful algorithms to optimize user experiences seamlessly. Looking into the future and working backward, it becomes clear that children born after 2007 have grown up with smartphones and will shape the future of algorithms.

The Power of Data in the 21st Century

The 21st century world operates on a “winner-take-all” system where centralizing and organizing proprietary data sets is crucial. Amazon is a prime example of this method, utilizing a wide range of product selections at low prices to draw more customers and increase their range of selections. Data is a company’s most important asset and serves as a platform to launch “disruptive ideas.” Haven Life utilized data from its parent company, MassMutual, to assess risk profiles and determine the best applicants. Companies aim to reduce transaction costs, and blockchain technology offers the possibility of eliminating the need for human intermediaries.

Algorithmic Leaders and the Power of Collaboration

The rise of automation and AI presents a unique opportunity for algorithmic leaders to leverage machines to take on the hard work of problem-solving. In doing so, they can shift their focus to more human, creative tasks such as brainstorming, visioning, and relationship building. True innovation can emerge when disparate experts collaborate using a structured and iterative methodology that breaks down complex problems into constituent parts. As companies seek diverse perspectives, partnerships between professionals like Google engineers and astronomers are becoming more prevalent. Trusting algorithms to perform without human intervention is key to success, as machines can identify connections and patterns that humans are not equipped to see. The emergence of automated technology is not a threat to humanity, but rather an invitation to envision new possibilities. The cost benefits associated with automation make it an attractive alternative to manual processing. As algorithmic leaders usher in a new era of transformative thinking, they will need to overcome their instinctual fear of machines to fully embrace the opportunities that AI presents.

Automation and Human Skills

Despite fears of job loss due to automation, history shows that technology actually increases human skills rather than eradicating them. Automation in the past has led to increased output, making products more affordable and driving increased production. The advent of ATMs did not replace bank tellers but instead expanded their skill sets to improve customer experiences. With algorithms taking over routine work, people need to develop “human” skills and receive lifelong education to prepare for new jobs. Companies have an opportunity to rethink their teams and coordinate themselves to profoundly reimagine what they do. Nike, for example, hired an engineering firm to invent a process to laser-cut anything in any material for custom shoe production. The evolution of AI’s impact on employment is fast, and leaders must adapt to the changing technological landscape.

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