Tempering analytics with emotion

Business guru Anders Indset suggests that a new world requires new approaches. Technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics will be crucial, he says, but it must be tempered with emotion.

Johannesburg, 12 Jun 2019
Read time 4min 30sec
Anders Indset, business guru
Anders Indset, business guru

The human race currently sends out something like 70 billion WhatsApp messages every day, yet people today are lonelier than ever before. The world is one where those who live in it are finding they have more knowledge than ever before, but less judgment; more education and less purpose. So, why do we continue to do things in the same old way, asks business philosopher Anders Indset.

His conclusion is that it is all down to habit, but, he adds, this must change, because if we are to succeed, humanity needs to move beyond the old models. This is because the raw material of the future will not be stuff found in the ground – like oil – but will instead be what is found inside our heads.

The man recognised as one of the world’s leading business philosophers, and an individual dubbed the ‘Rock 'n Roll Plato’ by German media, Indset was speaking to delegates at the recent SAS Roadshow. He is renowned for his unique approach to practical philosophy and business.

“If we truly want to save the world, we must start by being vulnerable. Vulnerability is the birthplace of trust and relationships, and of creativity and innovation. Furthermore, we will require access to new knowledge and we must ask new questions. This is because we can no longer simply base our views and plans for the future on the past, due to how rapidly and significantly technology has changed things,” he says.

“Fortunately, one area where we have improved in recent times is in the rise of women, who are now catching up across the board and are accessing more positions of power, which is good, since they are better at leadership and planning. Women are desperately needed to help cope with the societal and economical challenges ahead – we must seek knowledge in order to extend organised human life, and for that we need more diversity. It will definitely not lead to ‘creationlism’ if we take 10 men with the same suits and haircuts and stick them in a room and hope they will be innovative."

However, while increasing female representation is a step in the right direction, he points out, if we genuinely want to continue innovating, we need to overcome the ever-increasing gap that exists between what we do know and what we could know. It is here, he adds, where humanity must look to artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics for the answer. We need to pair the best of insights, analytics and data with human intuition and judgment.

“Of course, while we may want to exploit this technology, we must at the same time remember those things that are a key part of being human. It is all about finding the balance between the enlightenment that such technologies can offer, and the emotions that truly make us human.

“After all, while there is really nothing that an algorithm cannot do better than the human brain, the most appropriate decisions made by technology must still be tempered with consciousness. It is just as important to understand the long-term impacts of what we are doing as it is to be able to do them in the first place.”

Moreover, for all the talk of disruptive technology, we need to realise that there is, in fact, no such thing – the disruption occurs in regard to how we as people react to these new technologies, explains Indset. It is for this reason, he continues, that future business success will be determined not only by the technologies we use, but by the people using them as well.

“Since we have reached the point where algorithms can make better decisions than us, we need to instead work on our soft skills and embrace the inherent humanity in these. After all, while a good manager is one who is an aggregator – meaning they can easily be replaced with an algorithm – a good leader is one who tempers their decisions with emotion. Soft skills are all about encouraging teamwork, ensuring empathy and making choices based on conscience. There is nothing soft about soft skills, however, as soft skills are the hard skills of the future and they are the keys to leadership and success in the 21st century. Analytics may be well suited to management, but leadership is built on emotions.

“This is because in an increasingly technology-driven world, we need leaders who are emotional, who bring a ‘human’ aspect to what they do and who understand that they are only as strong as the team they bring together. Essentially, what the leaders of today need is to take the philosophy of the past and the emotions of the present and combine it with the scientific knowledge and technology of tomorrow,” he concludes.

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