Wyse Coaching - Business Development & Leadership Coaching | Detroit, MI


Random Thoughts Make the World Go'Round

Leadership and AI


Last week was the start of the NAIAS, the North American International Auto Show. It’s a big deal here in Detroit and an opportunity for us to all see what the future holds for the automotive industry. It is filled with cool events, even cooler exhibits and is an overall good time in the city.

I had the opportunity to attend an event thrown by InForum, a non-profit organization focused on leadership and development. They have amazing programs, especially for women. Check them out at www.inforummichigan.org. Anyway, the event was centered on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and how it may play a part in our lives and in the automotive industry in the future. A panel of thought leaders in AI discussed where we are with the technology, what we need to ensure happens for safe applications, and how prevalent AI is today without us even realizing it (yeah, I’m taking to you Netflix recommendations!).

The discussion was fascinating, tons of learnings for all. I left understanding much more about AI and intrigued by how it will be used in not only my life, but the life of my kids. I mean, Alexa has been like a new family member after all the kids got Echo-dots for Christmas. The kids might even be talking more to Alexa than are to each other. I digress.

One of the things that really struck me from the conversation was how much data is needed for AI to function properly. In order to provide the right answers or right recommendations, there needs to be an overflow of data, scenarios and results. In the event that even one is missing the result will not be what is expected. The easiest way to understand this is when you ask Alexa what time the Patriots vs. Chiefs game is and she responds with the weather in Suriname. I know this is an exaggeration on my part, but even with the advances we have made in conversational AI technology, we still receive wrong information depending on how we ask a question. The system needs to take into account millions of variances in order to provide you with the exact answer you are looking for.

When we move the discussion to self-driving cars the consequences could be even more dire since a faulty result could impact lives. That is why Alisyn Malek, COO and Founder of May Mobility, said that auditability of results is the most important factor in what she is working on regarding self-driving cars. If the audits show that the results are less than perfect, the car will not see the streets.

That tidbit really stuck with me and not just because Alisyn said if there is one thing you should take away from this discussion, it is this. It stuck with me because as leaders we might not be auditing ourselves as much as we should. What I mean is that leadership is hard, and much like the AI systems I have just discussed, we take in several amounts of inputs that dictate how we approach a particular situation. We have to take in consideration emotions, timing, tenure, skill level. Personal situations, bottom line, how it will affect the team. Every time we have a discussion with one of our teammates the data needed to make the right decisions is overwhelming. And much like the AI systems of now, our answers are not always on the money.

So how do we ensure that we are making the best possible decisions, or having the best conversations? We need to audit. We need to revisit the situation and reflect on what went well and what could have gone better. Being able to analyze this data will allow us to react differently the next time the same situation presents itself.

 But here is the catch… There will be few times when the answer will be exactly the same. Humans are, well…human. And they are beautifully unpredictable and unique. What would work for one person, will not necessarily work for the other. There will also be variants on YOUR disposition, personal situation and demeanor.  You will need to not only account for your team’s reactions but yours. Thank goodness for emotional intelligence.

Regardless, if we approach our auditing process as meticulously as the thought leaders of AI technology approach their results, we can and will become better leaders. Leaders that we badly need. Because it does not matter how much technology advances, leadership will always be innately human.

Andre Mello is a Business Coach and it is a little scared that Alexa will share all his secrets with the world. Regardless he will keep engaging because he cannot help himself. Andre has been in Marketing and Leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with him, please visit www.wysecoaching.com.

Andre Mello