Cogs in wheels

Leadership and the first cashier-less store

By Joel L. Domingo, Ed.D.

42 seconds

My curiosity is endless when it comes to technology, so when the first, human-less, a.k.a. “no cashier needed to check out” store opened in Seattle, my interest was piqued. After downloading the app, you scan your smartphone to enter, grab the items you wish to purchase and exit the store, all without standing in line to check out and pay.

I walked out with a lamb sandwich and a Coke – no Slurpee – and immediately the bill appeared on my phone and was automatically deducted from my bank account. The technology behind this is fascinating to say the least, as I understand that sensors and movement tracking takes care of everything. I wonder if the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” trick works here. You know, the opening scene where Indy, played by Harrison Ford, wants to swap the gold statue with a bag of sand while not triggering the trap.

From entering the store to exiting with my sandwich and drink, only 42 seconds had elapsed, according to the app.

“Revenge of the introvert”

Initially, I thought that this new concept store could thematically be called “Revenge of the Introvert”, since patrons do not have to interact with a person to pay. However, as an extrovert, I enjoy talking with people, although there is some irony to that introvert idea since there were troves of store employees monitoring and marshaling people throughout the store. Maybe next time I’ll try to stay in the store for an extended period to see what happens. Flashback to the 1980s video game, “Berzerk”.

I always try to find a leadership lesson from these experiences. Since sharing my store visit with many people, including those on social media, it has been interesting to hear the rhetoric and opinion from all sides. Whether you are against this (“It takes away jobs!”), or one of its early adopters (“This is the future!”), I find myself somewhere in-between.

I understand the tech-crazed world we live in and yet at the same time I relate to the concerns and questions that these new technologies bring to our world. Cue every episode of “Black Mirror”.

No human interaction – what it means in leadership

Whatever the conversation, one leadership lesson includes pausing and reflecting on those experiences that cause us to think deeply about what it mean to interact – or not- with people.

Leadership is ultimately about people, and the questions of leadership arise from how to best encounter and influence the world in which we live. For some, that influence is on small scale and for others, that leadership is felt organizationally, and sometimes, globally. The bottom line is that place and space are important concepts in the study and act of leadership. How we use place and space is a vital component to discover what it means to lead.

So, the first cashier-less store: Convenience, or concern? Forward thinking, or socially regressive? I am sure there are people more invested that I who will continue to debate this, but for now, I’ll just say that the lamb sandwich was decent and affordable. Now, about that Slurpee . . .

#Leadership can change the world.

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