Covid-19 has been more than an accelerator into the future; it’s brought a dramatic shift to new ways of working. Many of us have experienced the future in the past year and the opportunity to rapidly integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics—not just as tools, but as teammates—to help future-focused organizations turn their teams into “superteams.”
Thomas Malone, author of Superminds, posited the idea of superteams, which pair people and technology, using their complementary capabilities to re-architect work in more human ways and contribute to new and better outcomes at speeds and scales not otherwise possible.
Transforming teams into superteams by using insights from AI is still an emerging strategy, in part because many organizations continue to view technology narrowly as a tool or enabler instead of as a team member and collaborator. In Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report, based on a survey of 6,000 global respondents (more than 60% representing executive-level leaders), only 16% of respondents say they are now transforming or will transform work by building portfolios of humans and machines working together.
As organizations shift to a “thrive mindset” by embracing disruption as a catalyst for growth, increasing their reliance on superteams may help them drive growth, navigate uncertainty, and unlock the potential of their workforce.
Different, Diverse Thinking
Teams and networks built for agility and adaptability are becoming the fundamental building blocks for organizational models, representing a shift from traditional top-down hierarchical structures. This shift to agile and adaptable teams-based structures proved critical as the Covid-19 pandemic intensified throughout 2020. We saw the power of these adaptable teams when Ford Motor Company rapidly shifted from producing hybrid car batteries to ventilators.
The pandemic, which accelerated the wide adoption of creative remote-work practices, also inspired the human-AI collaboration that supports a greater level of teaming across organization and ecosystem boundaries. One coalition of pharmaceutical giants (AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline) and universities (Oxford, Cambridge) used collaboration technologies for real-time partnerships and data sharing that increased their speed to the level they needed to achieve the remarkably rapid development and testing of a coronavirus vaccine.
AI as a “team member” is also enhancing people’s natural powers of judgment and their ability to create knowledge. Some companies in the insurance sector have expanded the application of AI to include predictive modeling, turning human underwriters into “exponential underwriters” who can better analyze risk even without specialized data-science expertise. One provider of live online focus groups, Remesh, uses a human-AI collaboration solution to boost its real-time response-analysis capabilities and applies algorithms that use natural language processing to rapidly analyze and filter virtual focus groups to generate faster and more detailed insights.
In some ways, AI even gives superteams a “diversity bonus,” offering different “thinking” that can solve problems, make predictions, and surface other insights not always apparent to humans with a common set of biases and talents.
The intelligence may be artificial, but the results are real. Integrating AI’s viewpoints into superteams’ work helps the bottom line: organizations with higher levels of diversity see a greater proportion of revenue from innovation and overall stronger financial performances. At the same time, applying AI to a superteam’s work can free human workers to engage better, find more opportunity to innovate, and bring more creative value to their organizations.
Building Your Superteams
Whether your organization is exploring AI or has integrated AI into some processes and teams, consider adopting five priorities that may help you turn your teams into AI-powered superteams:
- Set audacious goals. Focus on defining new aspirations and outcomes, not on improving existing processes and outputs.
- Move beyond substitution strategies. Don’t limit your use of technology just to enable the work you already do and to replace human workers. Think bigger about how technology could transform your work and workers.
- Don’t stop with envisioning new ways to achieve those outcomes. Rebuild processes to put these goals into action.
- Use technology to design work that helps humans perform at their best. Your tools can help people collaborate in teams, break down silos among functions and businesses, create knowledge, learn in the flow of work, and personalize and humanize the work experience.
- Make the creation of superteams a cross-organizational imperative. Your organization should use the best thinking from the business, HR, IT, and finance.
Extending AI priorities beyond substitution strategies can bring new opportunities for business growth, innovation, and better jobs for workers. With superteam strategies, you may uncover approaches to introduce AI as a true partner to help your workers unleash their potential, human capabilities, and full imaginations for new outcomes, not just more output.
Learn more about how Deloitte can help you set up your superteams.