Technology is changing so fast it’s impossible to keep up. And it creates a dilemma: Do you adopt this tech now or wait for something better around the corner? As a leader, change your mindset, and adopt the ‘scan, select, and switch’ cycle.
How do you keep up with technology – such as AI – that’s constantly changing and evolving?
This question came up recently when I was running an AI leadership workshop in Melbourne, discussing leadership and governance issues around using AI.
One of the participants, a senior partner at a law firm, said, “We’ve talked about a lot of AI tech here, how much has changed in a year, and how much is going to keep changing. What I want to know is: How do we know the right technology to adopt, and when?”
It’s a good question, and you might be asking similar questions – like:
- How do we know which technology to adopt?
- How do we know it’s the best option?
- How do we know something better isn’t going to appear tomorrow?
Whenever you adopt any new technology – not only AI – you’re going to invest a lot. That investment is not only what you pay for it, but the time in integrating it into your systems, changing your workflows, training your staff, bringing your data into the new system, getting people working in a different way and making the most of it.
So, when you make that investment, you want to know that you’re investing in something that’s going to serve you well for a few years, right?
Or maybe not!
That was the right way to invest – in the past. But that’s not true anymore.
Things are changing so fast that we need a new mindset about how to adopt – and discard – new things.
Young people do this all the time. When my stepdaughter, Abbey, was about 17, she and her friends used Snapchat a lot. I was really interested in finding out how they were using it, and I asked her once,
“I see Snapchat has got these new location filters – how are you using them?”
And she replied,
“Oh, we’re not. We don’t use Snapchat anymore because Instagram has got this new Stories feature, and it’s so much better. So we’ve all switched from Snapchat to Instagram”.
“Isn’t that interesting? When was the last time I made such a big switch – and brought everybody else along with that journey?
That’s what we need to do now. It’s not easy, especially if we have a lot of experience in doing things the old way. We need to really make a conscious effort to switch.
That doesn’t mean that you switch every time something new appears – that’s just chasing bright shiny objects. But if it’s significantly better, you should switch.
I call this the “scan, select, switch” cycle:
- First, you scan to see what’s available.
- Then you select it – and invest whatever it takes to make the most of it right now.
- But you keep scanning, looking at other options. And if something significantly better appears, you should switch.
This isn’t easy! Sometimes you’ve invested a lot of time, money, energy, and resources in the old system. But if the new system is significantly better, you should switch.
What does ‘significantly better’ mean? That varies. But as leaders, we’re probably not switching as often as we should.
This is especially true for fast-moving technology like AI, which is growing, evolving, and improving so quickly. Be willing to invest in it now, but also expect to keep switching – over and over again.
When leaders look at challenges with AI, they often talk about things like privacy, security, confidentiality, and bias. These are important, but one of the other challenges is this idea of selecting and switching.
If you’d like to know more, I’m running a free public online masterclass soon about AI for leaders. We look at some of the leadership and governance issues around using AI in your team and in your organisation. I’m sure you’ll get value from it.