Sign In
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.

 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
Can a phone help you achieve peace of mind?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Can-a-phone-help-you-achieve-peace-of-mind.aspxCan a phone help you achieve peace of mind?
Impulse 1/2018https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2018.aspxImpulse 1/2018
Digitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalizationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-in-RTOs-Speeding-up-the-development-of-bio-based-technologies-with-digitalization.aspxDigitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalization
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttps://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
Low carbon energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Low-carbon-energy.aspxLow carbon energy
Health and wellbeinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-and-wellbeing.aspxHealth and wellbeing
Smart industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-industry.aspxSmart industry
Smart Citieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-Cities.aspxSmart Cities
Bioeconomy and circular economyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Bioeconomy-and-circular-economy.aspxBioeconomy and circular economy
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Digital societyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-society.aspxDigital society
Robotics – technology with multi-faceted potentialhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Robotics-technology-with-multi-faceted-potential.aspxRobotics – technology with multi-faceted potential
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Matti Apunen: At the core of the solutionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-core-of-the-solution.aspxMatti Apunen: At the core of the solution
Business developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-development.aspxBusiness development
Simon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient carehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Simon-Kos-Microsoft-AI-is-forcing-its-way-into-patient-care.aspxSimon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient care
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
New wood-based materials to help reduce plastic wastehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-wood-based-materials-to-help-reduce-plastic-waste.aspxNew wood-based materials to help reduce plastic waste
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Salofa-creates-rapid-tests-for-monitoring-health-and-the-environment.aspxSalofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environment
Energy solutions and the 2050 goalshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-solutions-and-the-2050-goals.aspxEnergy solutions and the 2050 goals
Finnish fuel cell technology aims for the worldhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-fuel-cell-technology-aims-for-the-world.aspxFinnish fuel cell technology aims for the world
Telaketju is changing our understanding of textile recyclinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Telaketju-is-changing-our-understanding-of-textile-recycling.aspxTelaketju is changing our understanding of textile recycling
Transition in the shipping industry: intelligent ship´s bridgeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-ship-bridges.aspxTransition in the shipping industry: intelligent ship´s bridges
Leca – filtering a cleaner futurehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Leca-filtering-a-cleaner-future.aspxLeca – filtering a cleaner future
Minima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoThttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minima-Processor-LTD-World-record-in-energy-efficiency-accelerates-development-of-IoT.aspxMinima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoT
Taking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Taking-the-bioeconomy-to-a-new-level-through-digitalisation.aspxTaking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisation
Three-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worldshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Three-dimensional-virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-Towards-new-worlds.aspxThree-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worlds
Biobased aromatics essential to the fine chemical industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Biobased-aromatics-essential-to-the-fine-chemical-industry.aspxBiobased aromatics essential to the fine chemical industry
Solving the energy crisis sustainably with fusionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Solving-the-energy-crisis-sustainably-with-fusion.aspxSolving the energy crisis sustainably with fusion
Automation gives packages wingshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Maintenance support for astronautshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Maintenance-support-for-astronauts.aspxMaintenance support for astronauts
Autonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Autonomous-systems-are-proliferating-rapidly-in-industry.aspxAutonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industry
Novel Cellulose products and applicationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Novel-Cellulose-products-and-applications.aspxNovel Cellulose products and applications
Finland provides community housing solutions for Namibiahttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-provides-community-housing-solutions-for-Namibia.aspxFinland provides community housing solutions for Namibia
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
New power for the electronics industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-power-for-the-electronics-industry.aspxNew power for the electronics industry
Why do so many women feel chilly indoorshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Why-do-so-many-women-feel-chilly-indoors.aspxWhy do so many women feel chilly indoors
Finland is aiming towards smart transporthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-aiming-towards smart-transport.aspxFinland is aiming towards smart transport
Passion spurs researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/passion-spurs-research.aspxPassion spurs research
Brought to you by Paptic: Wood fibre challenges plastic in carrier bagshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brought-to-you-by-Paptic-Wood-fibre-challenges-plastic-in-carrier-bags.aspxBrought to you by Paptic: Wood fibre challenges plastic in carrier bags
Professor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new wayhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Professor-Tiina-Mattila-Sandholm-Valio-Businesses-and-researchers-need-to-find-each-other-in-a-new-way.aspxProfessor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new way
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
An export product tougher than nailshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/An-export-product-tougher-than-nails.aspxAn export product tougher than nails
Is life cycle assessment method suitable to guide policy decisions? Case of European sustainability 
criteria for biofuelshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Is-life-cycle-assessment-method-suitable-to-guide-policy-decisions.aspxIs life cycle assessment method suitable to guide policy decisions? Case of European sustainability 
criteria for biofuels
The creators of the future get down to businesshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creators-of-the-future-get-down-to-business.aspxThe creators of the future get down to business
The FinnCERES competence centre will take the materials bioeconomy to a new levelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-FinnCERES-competence-centre-will-take-the-materials-bioeconomy-to-a-new-level.aspxThe FinnCERES competence centre will take the materials bioeconomy to a new level
Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn: Renewal of economy will bring new growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Renewal-of-economy-will-bring-new-growth.aspxMinister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn: Renewal of economy will bring new growth
A man driven by optimism and curiosityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-man-driven-by-optimism-and-curiosity.aspxA man driven by optimism and curiosity