<span class='p-name'>The Challenges of Becoming a Manager vs. Maker in the Age of AI</span>

The Challenges of Becoming a Manager vs. Maker in the Age of AI

With the advent of the Internet and digital, networked technologies, we have the opportunity to read, write, and connect on any topic, in any area. Up to this point, the primary entry point for most individuals is the search engine. Increasingly, for many others, it is solely their social media feed.

The search engine has served as a trusted tool to make sense of the firehose of information available online. This tool is not without its flaws. Search engines allow us to quickly get a sampling of resources, all with varying levels of credibility and relevance. There is always a certain amount of serendipity one click away.

In terms of writing and creating, digital tools allow for the development of incredible new texts that would be a dream years ago. With a few swipes of a device, you can create slow-motion animation, short form video, and share this with a global audience.

With the advent of new AI infused virtual assistants, there are many questions that are yet to be unanswered. One of the more interesting areas that I’m wary of is the potential for humans to be makers or managers.

Maker vs. Manager Schedule

In 2009, Paul Graham wrote an article called Maker’s schedule, Manager’s schedule. In the post, Graham suggests that we have an opportunity to work either as a maker or a manager.

The maker’s schedule is based around long periods of interrupted time that is spent working on difficult, cognitively demanding tasks. The focus is on creativity and making stuff.

The manager’s schedule is based around coordination of people who produce the output. The focus is on organizing the people making the stuff. 

Graham suggests that balancing both of these schedules is necessary to making sure work gets done. Without the makers, there is no output. Without the manager’s schedule, coordination is difficult, causing people problems. 

I keep this in mind as I schedule my day and try to leave room for thinking, creating, building, and playing. For others that may not be able to organize their schedules for this, it is important to block off time for reading, cooking, relaxing, playing, or some activity that gives your brain and body a chance to relax and get to stasis.

Enter the Virtual Assistant

After sharing an earlier post, I had a chat with David Flynn about the impact of these new AI virtual assistants and tools (ChatGPT, ChatSonic, OpenAI, DALL·E) in our lives.

Flynn indicated that his perspective is about job and resource sustainability. He suggested that “Everyone will become a manager, and eventually we won’t have as many producers.”

David indicated that when we think about AI and new tools in our workflow, we’ll think about creative opportunities to use these products in our process and product. Individuals will look for opportunities to overcome creative blocks and fatigue by using AI virtual assistants to get the work started.

Flynn suggested that ultimately we’d see a future where investments of time and money dictate how many humans and human hours can be spent on creating new and novel ideas. Instead, we may see systems that reduce creative work to teams that build from AI-generated ideations.

Who is Making and Managing?

I indicated earlier that I try to preciously guard time to think, play, create, and make. As I play with new AI tools, it is intriguing and exciting. I’m also concerned about Flynn’s caution that ultimately we’ll all become managers of time, ideas, and digital content as the AI tools take on the creative and making tasks.

Stephen Covey famously said: “Time management is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.” 

We live in an age where we glorify productivity and looks for technological tools that can help with building up our skills and talents. As this new age of AI virtual assistants picks up speed, I want to make sure that I think about the goals and value of every moment that we spend.

I’ll continue to struggle with balancing making and managing during the day. But, I’ll also pay more attention to whether I’m actually creating and making…or am I simply managing what is given to me by my virtual assistants.

If you’d like to stay on top of areas like this, you should be reading my weekly newsletter. You can follow here or on Substack.

Cover Photo by Emily Webster on Unsplash

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