As we have seen throughout this book, the future of work will be fundamentally different when machines do everything. Discovering this future—through formal R&D processes and informal “ground-up” continuous improvement—is the focus of this last chapter dedicated to outlining our AHEAD model.
Discovery, aka blue-sky innovation, related to systems of intelligence and the digital economy, is both a catalyst for and an outcome of undertaking the preceding steps of AHEAD. Automating, instrumenting, enhancing, and making products and services abundant will all allow your organization to discover opportunities that were never before visible or addressable.
Discovery itself, though, is a philosophy, a rigorous practice, an openness to the future, an understanding that innovation can't be a side project—that is, something “nice-to-have” or a rounding error of spend buried deep in a 10-Q report. Discovery is central to remaining relevant in the great digital build-out that lies before us. While machines will do more and more of our current work, the process of innovation will allow us to discover entirely new things to do (with and without machines) that are impossible to imagine and hard to predict, but they will be at the core of what we do in the future.
We've touched on a number of historical figures throughout this book: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Ned Ludd, and many others. We start this chapter by looking at another far less well-known ...