March 2, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
What is Watson? Jeopardy and computer fans know the answer to that question.
Watson is the IBM computer that beat two human Jeopardy mega-champions at their own game. The implications are amazing. For years, IBM and artificial intelligence scientists have been working to create a machine that can understand the nuances of naturally spoken human language and respond accurately. Watson’s victory signaled they are getting there – and thinking creatively about the widespread uses for the increasingly sophisticated technology.
The New York Times reported on February 17, for example, that IBM has announced a collaboration with Columbia University and the University of Maryland to use the technology for the creation of a cybernetic physician’s assistant. The service could be available to physicians in as little as 18 months, revolutionizing medical education and healthcare delivery worldwide. IBM also envisions a version of Watson to assist consumers in buying decisions and in meeting technical support needs. The possibilities are endless.
All this should give us pause. We’ll never rival a computer like Watson for encyclopedic knowledge, but we can develop what successful leaders and professionals know is their competitive advantage – wisdom and executive judgment. How do we do that?
We are wise in making good judgments when we . . .
1. bring a strong knowledge base and disciplined thinking to our decisions
2. assess the advice we get – and the quality of the character of our advisors
3. work to see more and more deeply into situations
4. learn to see systems – how things connect and impact each other
5. can envision multiple alternatives – and avoid feeling stuck in any one of them
6. anticipate the consequences of our actions before we act
7. have insights into our purpose for leading – and the values that drive it
8. employ our moral compass often, asking “Would I want this discussed on the 6 o’clock news?”
Leadership gurus Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy remind us of a powerful truth in their book on judgment: “With good judgment, little else matters. Without it, nothing else matters.”
What are you doing to develop your capacities for wisdom and executive judgment?