Book says AI will drive a different approach to staff management

Leaders need to change and ask their staff to be self-managing, says Charles Towers-Clark, author of The Weird CEO.

These are pretty weird times so it perhaps feels less surprising than usual that a recent book recommends running a company where staff can help to set their own salaries, accounts are accessible to all, where there is no formal hierarchical management and where holidays are unlimited.

You perhaps thought, as I did, that this is the latest crank manifesto from some business guru who has never so much as run a chip shop, but that's not the case. The author, Charles Towers-Clark, is not a fast-talking mouth for hire on the conference circuit but the founder and group CEO of Pod Group, an international company in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.

We only meet by phone but my impression is of a mild-mannered man who thinks differently, rather than a limelight-seeking self-publicist. Even when we talk about IoT he swerves the upbeat outlook, provided by many in his position, of sunlit uplands and gravy all the way.

"The problem we've got is standardisation: there are 450 platforms because nobody knows who's going to win the race .... There's no BetaMax versus VHS story yet," he says, referring to the standards battle that ended with VHS becoming the dominant format for video cassette recorders. (If you're under 35, ask your parents.)

That situation not only slows the growth of a fledgling sector but can also lead to uncertainty and risk. There are "known unknowns", Towers-Clark says, evoking Donald Rumsfeld, where standards that don't allow for new data coming along in future that could be combined with the old data.

This new Age of Uncertainty that applies to the future of IoT might have some connection with Towers-Clark's recently published book, which is called The WEIRD CEO: How to lead in a world dominated by Artificial Intelligence.

The WEIRD of the title is an acronym compiled of the author's suggested list of attributes for modern enterprise builders: Wisdom, Emotional Intelligence, Initiative, Responsibility and Development. Towers-Clark's modest proposal is that with AI on the eve and with technology generally automating more and more human processes, people need to take ownership of their jobs and actively transform their organisations. He argues that the new employees will need to be decisive and take the initiative rather than participate as digital serfs asking for permission of bureaucratic organisations with layers of approvals.

To continue reading this article register now