​International Conference: Intelligent Leadership

A global futurist closes out the conference with a look at how automation and algorithms will help reinvent the way businesses are run. 

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In Wednesday's final general session, IIA President and CEO Richard Chambers recognized 2018–2019 IIA Global Chairman Naohiro Mouri for his tireless work during the last 14 months and recapped their time together traveling around the world promoting the internal audit profession.

Futurist Mike Walsh then took the stage to wrap up the 2019 International Conference with his session on "Reinventing Leadership for the Age of Machine Intelligence." According to Walsh, algorithms, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming the deep infrastructure of our world. By 2030, he says, AI platforms capable of continuous learning and adaption will create an algorithmic world of seamlessly orchestrated and personalized experiences.

Walsh posed many questions to consider about the future: Are you thinking big enough about the risk and potential transformations associated with AI? What if we always knew exactly what to say and when? What if machines could recognize our emotions? How might facial recognition change our experience of applications? How can you create new experience by taking away the friction points? What if we no longer needed our devices at all? What if the biggest impact of AI was on our behavior and sense of identity?

"Now is the time to reinvent, redesign, and reimagine," he says. "The future of analyzing risk is data and the data relationships you can build." To survive the disruptive future, he adds, organizations will need to get ready to be more flexible, responsive, and adaptive.

Walsh encouraged the audience to constantly challenge their assumptions about the future. Are you thinking big and fast enough about the transformative potential of the algorithmic age? The next action would be to have discussions with the youngest members of your team to learn how to better include their frame of reference into ideas or strategy.

But how do organizations need to transform for the 21st century? Walsh says the key is to get others to see you as a different kind of organization. You have to make culture your operating system — the system of interactions that governs how your people collaborate. "It's the most difficult to change but it's the blueprint for true transformation," he says.

When it comes to leadership in an age of algorithms, automation, and AI, leaders are more important that ever, Walsh adds. They need to upgrade their approach to making decisions and solving problems — this means exploring how to start re-skilling teams, migrating talent to new roles, and preparing for the new types of challenges they'll face, he says.

"The future is not anything as simple as an upgrade," Walsh says. "It's an invitation for all of us to think in an entirely new way. Think big, think new, think quick."

Shannon Steffee
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Shannon SteffeeShannon Steffee<p>​Shannon Steffee is <em>Internal Auditor</em>'s senior editor. </p>https://iaonline.theiia.org/authors/Pages/Shannon-Steffee.aspx


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