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Automation, Augmentation or ReInvention - The choice we face in L&D

Parker Mitchell

July 12, 2023

Technological innovations can often be appreciated through one of three distinct lenses: automation, augmentation, or invention.

The lens of automation allows us to understand how technologies, like the advent of the computer, have streamlined processes, notably transforming tasks such as typing and precipitating the decline of the typewriter.

Through the lens of augmentation, we see how technologies such as the cell phone have enhanced our capabilities, enabling us to shift our communication from stationary to mobile.

It is the lens of invention, though, that captures the impact of groundbreaking creations like the iPhone, which fundamentally altered our engagement with technology. The iphone allowed creators to imagine new ways to deliver old services, and reinvent so many industries for a mobile era.

Just as the computer revolutionized productivity, and the cell phone transformed communication, generative AI—creative, self-learning algorithms—promises to redefine the world of work, particularly leadership development and corporate learning.

However, the pace of this change is far from gradual; it’s relentless, racing ahead of our wildest predictions.

Here’s where our old friends—automation, augmentation, and invention—enter the scene.

Viewing this through the lens of automation, Generative AI could streamline routine aspects of learning and development. Consider mandatory training sessions or routine progress assessments—tasks that take up significant time and resources. Generative AI could automate these processes, making them more efficient and less labor-intensive, allowing managers to focus on more critical tasks.

Shifting focus to augmentation, Generative AI could enhance the current learning models, personalizing them to meet individual needs. Instead of static one-size-fits-all training modules, imagine adaptive learning experiences tailored to each manager’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. It’s about augmenting human capability and learning potential through smart, personalized AI tools.

And then comes invention, the most potent game-changer. Generative AI could invent entirely new paradigms for leadership development. This is not just about an algorithm reciting data or producing periodic reports—it’s about intelligent systems offering insightful, personalized advice, mentoring employees, assisting managers in their daily operations, and beyond.

Imagine a future where your AI ally, your co-pilot, will serve as a personal coach for every manager—a digital mentor that aids in daily operations, provides personalized learning opportunities, and assists in mastering leadership nuances.

With AI as a co-pilot, managers can receive on-the-job training tailored to their specific needs and challenges, making learning a continuous, integrated part of work. can help you refine your leadership style, develop new skills, or solve complex business challenges.

This isn’t just about enhancing existing systems—it’s about creating something new, a novel approach to workplace learning and development.

The true challenge facing us is one of our imagination. Can we reinvent our learning and development ecosystems to best utilize this AI-powered transformation. It’s time we reimagine corporate training not as a fixed, one-size-fits-all module, but as an evolving, personalized process guided by an AI ally.

The technological revolution that began with automating typewriters and enabled mobile communication now holds the promise of revolutionizing our workplaces in ways we’re just beginning to understand.

To fully harness the potential of Generative AI, we must approach it not merely as a tool but as a partner—a co-pilot in leadership development and a catalyst for change.Welcome to the future of work.