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If You’re Afraid that Technology Will Replace You, Maybe it Will

Tue, 03/26/2019

Every single day, there is a new widget or whatchamacallit released to market that intends to improve and optimize a specific process or task.  As we harness the potential of technology, we look for ways to use those evolutions to our advantage – both inside and outside the workplace.  It’s only natural that we draw upon advances that streamline efforts.

However, in some cases, people on the inside looking out at a solution (intent on streamlining processes that they are responsible for) may be inclined to shun its implementation – for fear that it will make their role obsolete.  The sentiment may be that they’ve got along successfully doing things the way they’ve been doing them – what could be the need to shake that up?

Frankly, from a continuous improvement perspective, I find it quite difficult to commiserate with this kind of attitude.  And, it is unfortunately prevalent throughout organizational departments – including safety.

The reality is that you may impede progress with this type of mentality, but you won’t stop it for good.  The question is, do you want to be a speed bump or a merge lane?  Do you want to get in the way or be a positive participant of the change?  Because, the truth of the matter is that there is really no technology that can replace someone in their role.  That is, if they’ve made themselves integral.

Fear of progress and improvement does not stem from the belief that one will be replaced.  If comes from the belief that they already see themselves as dispensable.  If you’ve established yourself as a figurehead who just plays a part instead of a person intent on putting in the work to make things better at every opportunity, I figure that your fear of being replaced by technology is justified and most likely true.

However, this article isn’t for you.  People who occupy a role without getting their hands dirty are generally resistant to changing their ways.  No, this article is a warning to those in leadership roles who are looking for methods to improve processes at their workplace and are told by those reviewing the potential technological improvement that it doesn’t seem like a fit for their organization.

There is, of course, a very viable scenario where that person reviewing the technological solution actually conducted a thorough and diligent assessment of the considered.  However, there are unfortunately no shortage of scenarios where that person doing the review did not comprehensively attempt an understanding of how the solution could be successfully implemented into the organization – and how it would benefit.  It does happen that people dissuade others for fear that a new initiative will exposure them for the lack of influence they’ve been able to impact in whatever field they are involved.

If, as a leader, you receive a report that technology being considered to improve a process is insufficient, always understand why someone has suggested that.  It’s sad, but sometimes people act in such a way for their own benefit, instead of for the greater good.

And, as for those who choose to fear technological solutions.  Consider the good you could derive from spearheading such an initiative – one that improves many facets within your organization.  Fight your instinct to oppose change, because change for the better will happen – with or without you.