How to be irreplaceable

Let’s face it. Much of what we communicate on a daily basis could be replaced by a computer or website someday. So where can humans outperform computers?

In other words, where can you be guaranteed to be irreplaceable? Not outsource-able?

Faithful readers know that I’m a proponent of the “power of live.” I recently found an interesting parallel in the transcript of a conference presentation called “Education for The Third Industrial Revolution.”

In it, Princeton professor Alan S. Blinder is looking at being irreplaceable in the larger context of what can be (out)sourced overseas, but he also addresses (as a subset of the problem) the question of what humans can do uniquely relative to computers. Four things emerge:

1. Solve emergent and novel problems

Simplified, problem-solving involves exploring and finding, generating ideas, and synthesizing solutions and actions. Your intuition is unbeatable.

2. Be a quick learner

Computers can learn, but there’s nothing like a sales demo or training session where you can respond to somebody’s particular situation and needs… live.

3. Bridge between different bodies of knowledge

“Correlation” is looking for relationship, but as humans we see things analogically much better than computers do. It’s not that they don’t, but we’re better at it.

4. Work and play well with others

As Blinder puts it, this is a value that we all got a grade for in kindergarten. Some even argue that it’s the single biggest differentiator between leaders and non-leaders. Computers are binary. Humans are not.

The bottom line

I serve on the Professional Sales Advisory Board for Ohio University’s Schey Sales Centre, and at our last board meeting I heard Hugh Sherman, Dean of the College of Business, put it this way:

“If we think that the value we deliver is standing in front of 300 students and lecturing for an hour, we’re in trouble.”

Dare I follow up by saying that if we think we can just talk AT our sales prospects, marketing audiences, or virtual classroom learners, we are also in trouble.

Go forth and be irreplaceable in the power of live. The power of YOU.

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