The company I work for had a layoff or a WFR, which I later learned is a “work force reduction”, in the February time frame this year. Every large company I have worked for has one of these at the beginning of every year, you would think the leaders in these large companies could learn to better manage budgets to not have this issue, but I digress. To me its crystal clear they have not taken a page from Simon Sinek’s mantra, “head count or heart count”. After our WFR, our CMO said to the employees left at the company, “we are now going to have to do less with less.” This would have been an inspiring statement, except, that didn’t happen.
On the following Monday morning, while most of the other leaders were saying, “yeah, we have to do less with less”, they still ended up asking for the same things that were being delivered before the WFR and wanted to know when deadlines for all the same projects were going to be met. At the end of the day, we didn’t end up doing less with less. We tried to do the same with less and what I did notice is the quality of what was being delivered went down. (More on this in a moment).
The company I work for is a high-tech company. One of the exploding technologies happing today is generative AI or GenAI. As a capability that is helping our company sell a lot of products, this seems like a great thing. However, one of the issues that has come up a number of times is, "will GenAI replace people in the workforce?" You may ask, why do people think this? In May of this year, Arvind Krishna of IBM said “IBM to Pause Hiring for Jobs That AI Could Do” that had a sub heading “Roughly 7,800 IBM jobs could be replaced by AI, automation”. Now when you combine what is happening in the press when it comes to jobs and GenAI, as well as we all know February is right around the corner, AND our company has a few projects going on where we are discussing things like “What time-consuming but important tasks could be improved by GenAI” and “How much time is my team / am I spending on this?” People are nervous.
In one of these exercises, one of the follow-on questions was, “What could I do with the extra time and effort? I had two answers to this.
- As I have been in the workforce, doing some form of marketing for 18+ years, I said I would spend the extra time and effort mentoring the younger people on our team to help them better understand how to produce maybe fewer, but much higher quality content with the customer in mind.
See, I find that since COVID, there are a couple dynamics that are playing into the lack of quality in a lot of the content that is being created. First, large companies cut out travel. While this may save a good deal of money, the downside is that a number of places I used to travel to, such as trade shows and customer visits provided me with great insight as to how customers were thinking, and this influenced the content I would create. Second, with work from home, folks who have experience in their role, were not collaborating with the younger people in the company who could benefit from this experience and hence the quality of what is being produced is nothing to be proud of.
- I also answered the question by saying, I would spend the extra time, since I am unable to travel, researching topics that customers I am creating content for are thinking such that the quality of what is being produced is better and more relevant, making what we are positioning more relevant.
- Ok, there was a 3rd thing. I did also say that I was not too sure that GenAI was going to save a lot of time, because having the experience I do, I was going to have to spend time looking at the content that was created and validating if GenAI did actually help me to create better content.
I think back to a time in Jr. High School, when my science teacher used to say, “you can’t get blood out of a turnip”. At the end of the day, these large companies are gong to do what they do, but in a time when there are so many choices, I would think you would want to separate yourself from all the noise and create higher quality content that reflects who your company is and what they do, honestly, rather than litter the world with your propaganda and pray.