Yesterday I saw the POSSIBILITIES.
What would the world look like if robots attended to you at the hospital?
What would the world look like if robots manned warehouses?
What would the world look like if robots fixed potholes or if autonomous vehicles were moving goods from warehouses to stores?
What would the world look like if robots would co-exist with humans: what we call co-bots!
What would the world look like?
The problem with the “future” and most “futurists” is that their musings are often fluff. Very little focus on business cases, use cases, user-adoption cycles, or a simple ROCE calculation. (Google ROCE bazalwane. Siyakhulisana!)
They tend to live in some upper-ether between Star Wars & Terminator.
So I have gone about finding out about the future: THE REAL FUTURE.
Yesterday I had a one-on-one meeting with H.E Omar Sultan Al Olama. Omar (as he insisted I call him) is the Minister of Artificial Intelligence in Dubai.
Being African I was expecting that Omar would be surrounded by a million of aides, sitting in a lofty office with the fragrance of cigar looking down at the minions through his high-rise window.
Omar’s office is on the ground floor, a stitch away from the meeting rooms and the reception. His office looks out at the Dubai Future Foundation lab where his team is busy constructing robots, AI protocols & other technologies that they believe will transform the society of Dubai.
Leadership Tip: always situate yourself where you can experience the tempo of your team & your organization. Some of the most forward-thinking CEOs are embracing this leadership technique, position yourself where you can see everything.
As we walk around the facility, I meet the team members. They are from all over the world. Each with an obsession for innovation & artificial intelligence. They have doctorates or are on their way to getting one. Excellence is polished into the flooring in this place. If you are not the BEST at what you do or want to be the BEST, you simply will not survive.
Leadership Tip: you are the quality of the people you surround yourself with. And if the people around you do not step up, you have the moral obligation to change them. No excuses. You either make the team or the team makes you.
The very first robot ever built by the team still sits in the lab today. Omar himself was involved in the design, architecture, testing & documenting of these robots. He talks intimately about the late nights, the near misses, the failed attempts, and the thick skin required to do something so bold.
A MINISTER. THAT ACTUALLY KNOWS THE DETAILS.
Leadership is about the details. You cannot lead what you do not know. Mediocrity will manifest in environments where leaders leave the details to others. Be diligent about the details.
I love Africa. I love my people. I love the promise of the future. I love our spirit. I love how optimistic we are – even in the face of overwhelming evidence that things are going wrong. I love how we use humor and music to plaster over our troubles & suffering.
This is our greatest strength: WE SURVIVE.
But last night I had to ask the question, “WHERE IS AFRICA IN THE NEW WORLD?”
We were left behind the 1st industrial revolution.
We were exploited during the 2nd industrial revolution.
We are being mismanaged during the 3rd industrial revolution.
Where will we be in the next revolutions?
I am talking about what governments have said, what ministers have proclaimed, what policies governments have introduced, or what platitudes politicians have spewed.
I am asking, “where are we?”
Put simply, WHAT ARE WE DOING?
As I continue on this journey, I will share more of what I am seeing. The future belongs only to those that are willing to get their hands dirty and MAKE IT.