Treasure 110 – Humans and machines

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Must humans be afraid of machines? What can we learn from Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy? What is the Anti-CEO Playbook? At first glance, these three questions have little in common. At second glance, all three nuggets are about the potential of people.

Nugget #1 – Must humans be afraid of machines?

When I read the title of the article from Nadja Petranovskaja, I thought at first: “Oh no, not again panicking about robots and artificial intelligence.” However, the article is not the usual pessimism, but encourages to reflect. Nadja wonders where the distrust towards machines comes from. I think a lot of mistrust and fear also results from a lack of knowledge. People don’t know what machines can and can’t do. Unfortunately, the media do not contribute to reducing mistrust. Headlines like “Machines take our jobs away” and dark dystopias only intensify the distrust.

I agree that humans and machines together can do more than any of us alone. While reading this passage I had to think of agriculture. Until the end of the 19th century, agriculture was tedious manual labor, before the first agricultural machines in the form of tractors came onto the market. Here man and machine can do more than anyone alone. Today, agriculture is often industrialised and there’s heavy competition. Nevertheless, many farmers accept the challenge and are innovative – direct marketing via the Internet, differentiating products and events on the farm. Machines are not (yet) able to discover new business models and creativity. (7 min, text, German)

Why we should be afraid of robots

Nugget #2 – What can we learn from Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy?

In the automotive industry, job cuts and insolvencies are rising. The tourism industry, too, recently hit the headlines with a major corporate bankruptcy. G√ľnther Wagner analysed the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook. Among other things, he comes to the following conclusion:

Cook has neglected to really get deeply and comprehensively involved in the problems and to let the company become resilient – a necessity to master the future.

In a digitally highly networked, interconnected world that is growing in complexity, but also in environmental pollution and scarcity of resources, a high degree of resilience is needed, which should work on 3 levels:


3. Human level, in which people are no longer only urged to optimize in work processes, but are sought to promote creative potentials apart from self-optimization and efficiency.

In many companies people are still seen as cogs in gears, as executive units in processes. Many of these cogs can actually be replaced by machines in the future. Making bookings, writing invoices, managing appointments and checking costs are just a few examples. Robots and algorithms work better here than cogs in the gearbox. The image of cogs has always been wrong anyway, because humans are not machines. Let’s make possible what they can do better, e.g. empathy and creativity. In many companies this will be a long way. Up to now, adaptation and adherence to rules was in demand. Now we suddenly have to break new ground and try out new business models and forms of cooperation. How do you prepare for the future? (15 min, text, German)

This week’s hot topic: Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy

Nugget #3 – What is the Anti-CEO Playbook?

Hamdi Ulukaya thinks corporate management differently. The CEO of the American yoghurt manufacturer Chobani is also addicted to people. He propagates an anti-CEO Playbook in his TED Talk. It is based on his history and the entrepreneurial path he has taken. First and foremost are his employees. He also trusts in those who others don’t give a chnce. This reminds me of Sina Trinkwalder. If you don’t know her yet, I recommend the book “Wunder muss man selber machen. Wie ich die Wirtschaft auf den Kopf stelle.” (*) Both are good examples of social entrepreneurship. The second group of people, his customers, are also important to him. If one listens to these two groups, coworkers and customers, and fulfills their needs, then the enterprise becomes successful. For him, profit is not a goal, but a result. (18 min, video, English)

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