Living Exponentially
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Living Exponentially

The job description of the future doesn’t involve manual labor or basic thinking skills. The future will challenge all of us. Here’s why.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and the QI Macros [software].

“At the ASQ Lean Six Sigma conference there was an opening keynote about the acceleration, the exponential acceleration of technology; how it’s just so much faster, so much quicker, so much… it’s just {whooshing up sound}, right? And the costs are going {whooshing down sound}, and so that’s a dramatic shift from how it used to be.Even Six Sigma used to [have to] make charts manually and do stuff like that, but that’s not how it is any more, so he suggested that you think about it in this map.

“There are Manual processes and there are Thinking processes , right? Cognitive processes. There are Repetitive things that we do and Non-Repetitive things that we do, and his point was that anything that’s Manual and Repetitive is going to be done by robots. So if you think robots are taking over, you’re right. If you have a Repetitive things that are Cognitive, that’s going to be taken over by software… …and algorithms. So, like in the QI Macros, the Control Chart Wizard will pick the right chart for you, the Stat Wizard will pick the right statistic for you, the Data Mining Wizard will build entire improvement projects for you: automation of these things. Do you need to know any of those formulas? No. Do you need to know all the decision trees? No. Ok, so this is going to be taken over by software. If your software hasn’t taken that over, guess what? Yeah, it’s behind the curve.

“All right, now what about Manual, Non Repetitive things? Well that’s done by mobile people, right? Obviously, people have to move around and do things [non]repetitively (not repetitively, but things that aren’t consistent), but guess what? That’s going to be done by the lowest-cost workforce, and the lowest cost workforce is not in the United States of America, unless it’s things like health care where you’ve got to be there to get that done. But manufacturing? All that’s being done overseas now. We’re bringing some of it back because the high-end specialty stuff needs smart people and we need to control the IP on them, but then around Thinking, this is going to be creative people.

“So I want you thinking about the fact that Repetitive things are going to be done by some sort of automation: robots, software. Artificial Intelligence is going to do machine learning so it’s going to get better at this and it’s actually going to be able to learn how to do Non-Repetitive thinking things. It’s able to learn, so it’s going to do diagnosis and treatment. You may not need a doctor any more, right? Your smartphone may detect what’s going on for you. This is the move. I think this is a big shift, and again, it’s accelerating, accelerating, because Artificial Intelligence (machine learning) learns very quickly, and so I think our goal if we want to stay employed is to find some way to join the creative people and start getting smarter about things. I think that is the future for those of us in Quality Improvement: our job is to help solve problems, to be the creative problem-solving force, and if we’re not that, guess what? We’re out of business.

“The other thing they’re talking about is Quality 4.0, but that’s like supply chain integration all the way from the beginning to the end, and I think all of that stuff will be monitored “automagically” by SPC software embedded in your production things and everything else. What quality people used to do will be automated, and it’ll tell you if a drill bit is starting to wear out and then the robot will replace it for you, and eventually it’ll be an automated factory and people will just kind of stand back and watch it from a distance.

“That’s coming… That’s Quality 4.0, so start thinking about how you can add value. You don’t need to learn decision trees and formulas, you need to use learn how to use software that makes it easy to do all this stuff, then you can join the creative people to come up with the solutions based on what you’ve discovered, right? So I want you to move from being Repetitive and kind of Manual up into this quadrant; I want you moving that a-way. That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”

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