Is Automation Running Out Of Steam?


A big shift occurred at the end of 2011.   In case you weren’t paying attention, 2012 marked the start of a lower rate of US productivity.  The chart below shows the trend.

You might be asking so what, why should I care?  The trend surprised me because I read and hear so much about the automation of jobs.  We are in the midst of a technological revolution replacing many jobs with artificial intelligence.

Is Automation Running Out Of Steam?

If automation is the inevitable future, why are we seeing this downward shift in the productivity trend?  Shouldn’t we be seeing an uptick?  From my perspective it illustrates we might have harvested the low hanging savings from automation.  No doubt more improvement is on the way but is its level of impact dropping?

If automation is having a lower impact on productivity, what is the next engine to reignite productivity improvements?  I believe there is a largely untapped source of productivity.  It is not more automation, in fact it is the opposite, human productivity.  I also don’t mean the focus on working harder – I think we know how that plays out and we don’t have the appetite for more.

The Untapped Potential of Human Collaboration

I am talking about human collaboration, it is a massive untapped source of potential.  Every company and organization is essentially a network for teams.  If an organization is made up of teams, then its productivity is largely influenced by the productivity and creativity of its teams.  And there is the problem and the opportunity.  From my research, most team leaders believe only 1 in 20 teams are fulfilling their potential.

If we could generate a small increase in that number to say 1 in 4 teams, it would represent a massive increase productivity and organizational output.  Rather than rendering more people redundant, it would have the opposite effect, increasing team member engagement and satisfaction, and putting the collective talents of the team to best effect.

One in Twenty Teams Fulfill Their Potential

So why are we only seeing 1 in 20 teams fulfill their potential?  We have not taken the time to equip team leaders with the skills they need to generate high team performance.  Instead we promote high performing individual contributors, typically technical experts, and we expect them to know how to lead a team.  Team leadership doesn’t just happen, it is a learned skill.  Worse still, those skills we learned on the job may not be serving us well in the long term.

Now for the good news.  We have a deep understanding of what it takes to create a high performing team and become the type of leader others want to work for.  At West Haven Coaching, we work with leaders to explain how to do this and coach them to adopt the necessary skills.

What Type of Leader Do You Want To Be?

Do you want to be the type of leader others can’t wait to work for?  Drop us a note to learn how.