Robots work better than humans (December 2015)



This evening in Joburg, I can hear the frogs and insects, the rumbling of distant thunder, and the welcome pitter patter of soft rain after another super hot day. I hear it has also been unseasonably warm in England, parts of Europe and parts of North America. Wherever you are in the world I hope that you will be safe and find joy in your Christmas or Year End festivities.

For the last couple of years I have chosen a word or phrase for the year. For 2016, I am setting a more wordy intent:  My intent is to change the way business is done around the world – blending humanness back into big business; helping business leaders to reconnect with themselves, to communicate with heart and to create an environment where everyone in the company can contribute to their absolute fullest whilst being fairly rewarded – so that people thrive, business thrives and the world thrives.

Robots work better than humans

Imagine having an army of robots to work for you. They work 24 hours a day. They do exactly what they are programmed to do. There are no complaints, no questions. They work at a constant pace and they don’t make mistakes.

The input required from you is a known quantity: initial cost, regular maintenance, power supply, replacement programme.

For tasks that are repetitive, consistent and predictable robots are fabulous. They are super reliable. They are way better than humans.


But then a delivery of materials is late and they sit idle because they aren’t programmed to do the other useful tasks you would like doing. Or you have a VIP customer with a special requirement but the robots won’t change their speed or process to accommodate your new, once off requirements.


Humans have none of the predictability of robots. They work well for a maximum of 50 hours a week. They require food and comfort breaks as well as weekends and holidays. They take time to learn new tasks and they make mistakes. They are emotional and variable.


We aren’t designed for predictability. We are designed to think, learn and adapt. We are designed for innovation. When resilient our strength lies in adjusting to variations of input, to seeing potential problems, to averting disasters, to finding solutions to new problems, to constantly adapting to a very rapidly changing world. We have unlimited potential.

All providing the conditions, the environment, allows for our needs as humans.


Humans make really lousy robots so let’s stop assigning them to robot tasks. Let’s automate all that can be automated and let’s create environments where we as humans can thrive and discover our real potential. (I know that automation cuts jobs, especially for unskilled and semi skilled workers, but for that part of the population our current work solutions aren’t working very well either – the people are for a large part dissatisfied and the business owners bemoan the costs vs results. We need a different solution.)


Since 2014 I have been involved in the Thrivable World Quest, a process of uncovering, around the world, what it takes to have thriving people and thriving organisations on a thriving planet. Join me in 2016 on a journey of applying that knowledge to bit by bit change our organisations so that we all benefit

Kind Regards



Alison Gitelson, Management Growth Enabler, enabling you to do business better.

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“The nature of human motivation is not in making money. It is in making meaning.” – Susan Fowler

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