Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

​​

Matti Apunen: A problem called excellence

Text: Matti Apunen | 1.12.2017

We can speculate about how new information technology – Big Data, adaptive software, artificial intelligence – will affect production. We know what it will do to some professions, but what about leadership?

Data-grinding devices will transform working life and overturn old power relationships within organisations. The hierarchy of the future will differ from the current expert organisation, which resembles a middle-aged man in more than just its composition – it, too, seems a little thick around the middle.

Middle management will be slimmed down. A range of analysis and preparatory tasks are under particular threat, because machines that break down big data are far superior in these areas. This leaves front-line staff, most experts and senior management.

In such a world, reporting and analysis will be real-time, giving managers less to monitor and manage, but leaders more to lead.

The impact of AI is surprisingly often viewed as a contest over jobs, in which either people or machines are the winner. A more probable world is one in which both robots and people are the winners, a combination in which software complements human performance. And then there are the opportunities provided by leaps forward in efficiency – super productivity where a single employee performs 100 times better than the norm.

This represents a huge change in working life, which will force us to rethink certain basic principles of human leadership.

Taneli Tikka, an executive who has analysed robotics and leadership, says that coaching is the unavoidable modus operandi of modern business management.

This sounds simple, but it is anything but simple in an environment previously built on monitoring and surveillance. We can track football players, measure the metres they run and challenges they make, but this does not add up to winning tactics.

– A leader must do everything to ensure that the work of super-productive individuals is sufficiently supported, resourced and enabled, says Tikka.

This idea is easy to accept at management and shop-floor level, and even among trade unions. The issue changes as soon as people begin to consider what this means for me? And this, of course, is the question that concerns them first and foremost.

If we accept increasing productivity differences, will we accept super-bonuses for super-productive people?

We have no choice, because in the open international labour markets top talents are recognised from afar and attractive offers are made across borders. Without further consideration of the issue, I will make the bold claim that our incentive systems are too cautious.

At the level of the working community, this is ultimately the dilemma faced by Antti Rokka in the Finnish classic war novel, the Unknown soldier. Rokka is an outstanding professional soldier who refuses to conform to general formalities and routines. To what extent are we willing to grant special freedoms to the Rokkas of the digital battlefield? Why should they be burdened with numbing, night-time guard duties?

No reason comes quickly to mind, except that special freedoms create the sense of a privileged elite and break organisations down from the inside. There is no universally applicable mathematical solution to this problem. It may be that human instincts will be the only solution to it when machines have surpassed us in every other regard.

 

 

Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseImpulse
Impulse 1/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Impulse 1/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
Before information gets lost in numbershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Boost for propeller developmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Defence Forces seek a head starthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Defence-Forces-seek-a-head-start.aspxDefence Forces seek a head start
Designers needed in printed technologyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
From ideas to major innovationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/How-to-become-a-leading-country-in-flexible-energy-production-systems.aspxHow to become a leading country in flexible energy production systems
Industrial 3D printing takes offhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-3D-printing-takes-off.aspxIndustrial 3D printing takes off
Intelligence for machineshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
Let's make bioeconomy a realityhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Lets-make-bioeconomy-a-reality.aspxLet's make bioeconomy a reality
VTT Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters
Return on investmentshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Return-on-investments.aspxReturn on investments
Senior Scientist Jukka Hemila, VTT: From technology hype to customer understandinghttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Senior-Scientist-Jukka-Hemila-VTT-From-technology-hype-to-customer-understanding.aspxSenior Scientist Jukka Hemila, VTT: From technology hype to customer understanding
Serious efforts to boost the Finnish economyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Serious-efforts-to-boost-the-Finnish-economy.aspxSerious efforts to boost the Finnish economy
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
The creative force of change managementhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creative-force-of-change-management.aspxThe creative force of change management
Turbine blades bring millions in savingshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Turbine-blades-bring-millions-in-savings.aspxTurbine blades bring millions in savings
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
We cannot afford not to have robotshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Converting rags to design clotheshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Impulse 2/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 2/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2014.aspxImpulse 2/2014
There is no better innovation model in the worldhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/There-is-no-better-innovation-model-in-the-world.aspxThere is no better innovation model in the world
Impulse 1/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
The creators of the future get down to businesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creators-of-the-future-get-down-to-business.aspxThe creators of the future get down to business
International entrepreneurship does not happen overnight it needs to be nurturedhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/International-entrepreneurship-does-not-happen-overnight-it-needs-to-be-nurtured.aspxInternational entrepreneurship does not happen overnight it needs to be nurtured
Impulse 2/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Impulse 1/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
Risk management in an increasingly complex worldhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Risk-management-in-an-increasingly-complex-world.aspxRisk management in an increasingly complex world
The rise of robotic carshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
We must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-must-maintain-Finland-as-an-attractive-target-for-investment.aspxWe must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investment
Sensor of tomorrowhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sensor-of-tomorrow.aspxSensor of tomorrow
Looking through their eyeshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Looking-through-their-eyes.aspxLooking through their eyes
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
The perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutionshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-perfect-pilot-environment-for-Arctic-solutions.aspxThe perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutions
More than siliconhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-than-just-Silicon.aspxMore than silicon
Cell screening leads to new cancer treatmentshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cell-screening-leads-to-new-cancer-treatments.aspxCell screening leads to new cancer treatments
Productive use for Finnish biomasshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Productive-use-for-Finnish-biomass.aspxProductive use for Finnish biomass
Towards bioeconomy with the power of woodhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-bioeconomy-with-the-power-of-wood.aspxTowards bioeconomy with the power of wood
Global demand for oats is increasing stronglyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Global-demand-for-oats-is-increasing-strongly.aspxGlobal demand for oats is increasing strongly
Research with impacthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Research-with-impact.aspxResearch with impact
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest

CONTACT US

P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Tel. exchange +358 20 722 111
Opening hours Mon - Fri 8:00 - 16:30,
UTC +2 time zone

CUSTOMER SERVICE

info@vtt.fi
Tel. +358 20 722 7070
Opening hours Mon - Fri 9:00 - 11:00 and 12:00 - 15:00,
UTC +2 time zone