How AI Is Killing The Old Web, Don’t Delegate The Soul Of Your Organisation & Airbnb Organisational Design Insights
2 July 2023 Newsletter
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been a great week with the next stage of the new Onboarded for Managers being complete and a great speaking event talking about Onboarded and launching a new version of the onboarded sprint plan which is now available on our website.
AI Is Killing The Old Web
I probably should have started writing this week’s newsletter a half day earlier. When I mentioned this, someone said, “Can’t you just use ChatGPT?”. “Not on your life!” I responded.
And so, it was interesting to read this article about how low-quality content is changing the economy of the web and the new web won’t work the same.
And this is important because every company relies on the web, and the accuracy of its content, even if it’s only for a web page to rank in search results and generate leads.
In the beginning, the web was a place where individuals made things. They made homepages, forums, and mailing lists and a tiny bit of money with it. About 25 years ago, Google began winning more users against Yahoo and Netscape because the search results were more accurate.
Then companies decided they could do things better. They created slick and feature-rich platforms and threw their doors open for anyone to join. They put boxes in front of us, and we filled those boxes with text and images, and people came to see the content of those boxes. The companies chased scale and filled their platforms with advertising.
But the content was still there. If you wanted to find Thai food for dinner, you could still search and find ‘Thai food near me’, even if marketing hacks were in play.
Until recently, almost all content was generated by humans. The web was the library of human knowledge. And Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
But today, something is changing.
When you make a copy of something, there are always slight imperfections. The copy is never the same as the original. It’s even why we age; copied cells have slight imperfections.
And that’s what we’re seeing with AI. Each result has slight errors, as AI (a Large Language Model) isn’t thinking; it’s just collecting data and filling in the gaps. And we never entirely know what to trust.
So what happens when we have jobs for people to create 200 – 250 articles per week using AI after a few years?
The web becomes a sea of low-quality content, with slight imperfections and factual errors being multiplied exponentially. And all that low-quality inaccurate content is being copied, with further imperfections being introduced every time. What we’re seeing in AI results now is a copy of human knowledge. What will it look like when we see a copy 100 times removed from human knowledge?
Here’s the article that prompted this line of thinking. Generative AI models are changing the economy of the web, making it cheaper to generate lower-quality content. We’re just beginning to see the effects of these changes.
Don’t Delegate The Soul Of Your Organisation
What are the things that only you can do?
I’ve asked this question a few times of CEOs in the past few weeks when talking about delegating and how to make their potential count for the most in this world of effort.
There are things you can (and should) delegate, and this list of things should grow as you scale. Then there are things you should never delegate. Things like accountability, building culture, and setting strategy as I detailed in the book Made to Thrive.
One of the things you should never delegate is the soul of your organisation.
Marketing or communications people may help, but you should never delegate it to them.
The soul shows up on your website. It’s woven through your branding. It’s all over ideologies like values and purpose. It’s in the quality of the work you produce and the pride you and the team feel.
The soul of your organisation is what makes it authentic. And to be authentic, it’s got to have your fingerprints all over it.
AirBNB’s Brian Chesky on Design
This week I came across an interview with AirBNB’s CEO Brian Chesky where he was talking at a fireside chat with an audience of product designers, but I found some pearls of wisdom that I thought I’d share with you.
Getting your Core Service Right: “We can’t do new things unless we have permission. And we don’t have permission to work on new things until people love our core service. If they’re complaining on social media and they’re calling customer service, they don’t love our core service so we need to get our house in order first.”
Rethinking Airbnb’s approach to roadmaps: “I asked every leader ‘Show me your roadmap.’ They couldn’t even figure out their roadmaps because everyone had a sub-roadmap on sub-teams, and those teams had roadmaps. And so I said ‘There’s a simple rule. If it’s not on the roadmap, it can’t ship. And it must be on one roadmap.’ So we [did] this giant exercise and we put everything single thing on one roadmap. Then I said ‘We can only do 10% of the things on the roadmap.’ That was a reckoning. So I said ‘We’re only going to do a few really big things.’ We took the very best people [and] we put them all on a few projects.”
Improving product quality at Airbnb: “We [decided] to focus, number one, on shipping things that you’re proud of. If you don’t want to put your name on it, you don’t ship it.” —
“The artist in you should first and foremost make something for yourself. When you love it and you’re proud of it, now you’re ready to put it out to somebody else.”
Leadership’s involvement in the product review process: “I started reviewing all the work. I reviewed the work every week, every two weeks, every four weeks. Before, people thought that was meddling. And I said ‘You know what, screw it. We’re going to review everything, I’m going to be the chief editor, and I didn’t push decision-making down. I decided to pull decision-making in like an orchestra conductor and what we created was a shared conscious of the top 30 to 40 people at the company, and it was like one neural network—one brain.”
The importance of product marketing: “A lot of products fail because they’re not well-marketed. If you ship a feature and no one knows, did it really matter? So a lot of times people give up on features too soon. They ship something, the data says it doesn’t work, they kill the feature. Well, did you tell people about it? Do they know about it?”
The value of design: “If people love our products, they’re going to want to buy more of them”. “When I joined Y Combination, Paul Graham said ‘Make something people want.’ Well, who knows what people want as well as designers? Not many other people. I think that’s a core value that we have to [offer] the world.”
The different ways to be creative: “I think of myself as a designer, but I’m not a designer in the way most of you are. I designed our business model. I designed our expense base. I helped design our organisational chart, our business, how we work, our story. […] Design is not just how something looks; it’s how it fundamentally works. And I think it’s one of the most important skills that we’re going to need in the 21st century.”
AI Helping Productivity
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