Every company has a specific DNA. You may think DNA is the brand or values. But corporate DNA is what makes a company tick, not what the company is. Talent, operations, technology, and data make up your base pairs. How those combine will have a specific outcome for the business, and even the overall sequence and pattern has consequences, turning the business knobs. For example, we could look at three sample combinations:

  • Task excellence: (Talent –> Operations), (Technology –> Data)
  • Operational excellence: (Talent –> Technology), (Operations –> Data)
  • Strategic excellence: (Talent –> Data), (Technology –> Operations)

For those out there in the depths of DNA research, I apologize for my crudeness and gaps. Hopefully, the analogy is useful for the point. The point is, today, we are not committed to the DNA we are born with and can change it. CRISPR technology demonstrates this — we are beginning to edit DNA for medical therapies.

Artificial intelligence is today’s catalyst for corporate gene editing.

I am being precise about my words here. AI is causing us to examine our businesses. It may not be what actually changes it. Not all problems are AI problems, just like not all problems are technology problems. Technology and data may cause a bad decision. But the bad decision is a flaw in how we make decisions. It might be better to think that technology and data may help reduce bad decisions.

AI is a catalyst for the very reason that it is intended to automate decisions with technology, algorithms, and data. Instead of a tool we deploy, it is a capability and system that should infer and act in a way we would ourselves. Do we have the right corporate DNA to take advantage of AI potential? Is the way we combine talent, operations, technology, and data optimal to what we want to achieve?

Our initial steps into AI are pragmatic vs. general. Partly, this is because our early AI maturity requires us to focus on specific problems and decisions. Partly, this is because technologies are not ready for general AI applications for our business to run on. But the effect of pragmatic AI is still putting our corporate DNA through a CRISPER edit. As we deploy new DNA from AI capabilities into our business processes, where and how we make decisions, and where and how we create experiences with customers, we are causing business mutations. We look at our business opportunities through a different lens when applying AI. We consider the talent and process impact for designing, building, deploying, and managing AI in the wild. We have to look inside at the way we make decisions and trust those decisions, because AI is a remote brain mimicking us — and we have oversight on our decisions now that need retooling for a robot.

Some mutations will be positive, some will be benign, and others will have malignant qualities. It is the companies that take a look ahead at what they want their corporate DNA to be that are the ones who will gain the most from the use of AI. Those companies that put AI first and play catch-up to how AI changes them lose control of their destinies.

Editing your corporate DNA is a deliberate move. What do you want your company to be? After answering that question, then deploy AI deliberately.

  • Educate your executives on what they can do — not what AI is and does.
  • Be comfortable with not using AI — or even machine learning — if it isn’t the right capability.
  • Create AI experiences that change how executives use technology — don’t just focus on operations.
  • Capture what executives feel needs to change about the company to survive — don’t replicate competitors.
  • Create the symbiotic technology strategy — it’s how you operate using technology vs. the fact that you have the technology.