Businesses need to introduce and implement AI technologies effectively to become more efficient, effective, and competitive, while improving strategy.
Part five of a Women in Tech series.
Artificial intelligence (AI) – you may have heard of it. It’s the new buzz word, the new concept that is now on everyone’s radar.
Many people use AI technologies and don’t realize it. Alexa, for example, uses AI technology. And, nearly every major organization is talking about it. They’re trying to introduce and implement AI in a way that allows them to become more efficient, effective, and competitive, while also helping them improve strategic business decisions.
Some organizations are mature in the space, while others are in the process of figuring it out.
In many cases, when C-suite executives attempt to sort out how and when to use AI, they often leave out an essential factor: people.
Organizations often underestimate the effect of implementing AI has on people. Mainly, they forget how people must absorb what using AI means for their day-to-day responsibilities along with how it ultimately impacts their overall career.
As with any significant initiative, managing the AI technology revolution carefully and intentionally is key to realizing the benefits of the investment.
A Well-Thought-Out Plan
“I never know what’s going on.”
“Did anyone think about “X” before they decided to move forward?”
As with any change or in this case, a new technological addition, taking the time to understand how implementation impacts business processes and operations, along with people’s roles and responsibilities, is integral.
This process ensures you develop a comprehensive plan to prepare the organization to answer the crucial questions:
- Why are we applying AI to our business model?
- What kind of AI technologies are we utilizing?
- What is the timeframe for integration?
- When are we expected to be proficient in using the AI?
- How will I learn how to use these new technologies?
- What is my role in this integration?
Vision: Visible and Engaged Sponsors
“AI? What IS that? What does this mean to my job? What’s my career look like?”
“What’s in this for me?”
The goal is getting employees to embrace and adopt AI technology by keeping them engaged and eager about what the future holds, by realizing the tangible and intangible benefits for the organization, departments, and the individual.
It is essential to define the business objectives you’re trying to achieve clearly, and build a strategy on how to successfully reach these goals with minimal negative impact to the business or your people. Leaders need to stop and ask themselves: “will the tactics chosen minimize the negative impact on my people both short and long term?” If the answer is no, they need to go back to the drawing board and adjust.
Leaders need to be engaged, transparent and authentic. Leaders who speak openly and honestly about the changes ahead, sharing that the road may be unknown and challenging at times, create trust and buy-in.
Influencing a Positive AI Technology Experience: Not Just for Leaders
“They (leaders) make decisions in a black box; who knows why they decided what they decided.”
“If they (leaders) had asked, we could have told them that they need to approach the teams X way.”
“Have the leaders talked with the people impacted by the change?”
Long gone are the days when a select group of leaders enforces change and employees accept it without question. The traditional model of employees as passive consumers no longer works.
Co-creation and including employees in the AI development and execution processes drive a valuable and sustainable product, which is crucial for a successful launch. Bring employees into the journey early. Include them in working sessions, testing and simulations, conduct demonstrations, and sneak peeks.
Change Fatigue: It’s Real
“What’s going on? Oh – just another change.”
“I’ve stopped looking at my email.”
“I can’t keep up with my project, my department’s initiatives, and everything else going on in the company.”
Often, organizations and leaders don’t assess the amount of change individuals are experiencing.
AI is new and may take more time for individuals to grasp and embrace. This oversight might lead to significantly longer adoption cycles if there are other competing priorities or changes underway in parallel.
Take time to assess each new expectation in the grand scheme of things. Help individuals prioritize their focus. Adjust timelines to allow people the space to embrace and support AI.
Messaging: Early and Authentic
“It would’ve been nice to hear about this sooner.”
Begin socialization early. Identify individuals early in the process across the organization to champion the change. Encourage them to focus on language that resonates within their teams without getting too “techy” or using too much jargon speak.
Speaking in your business’ language with messages that resonate at the individual and team level can be challenging, but it is worth the time and effort if you want a sustainable result.
So, what’s next? If reading this sparked any sensation of déjà vu or vertigo, perhaps you already know the importance of enabling AI technologies well for the people of your department, region, or enterprise.
Maybe you can see this coming and want to head it off. Either way, start the conversation on how to address some of the topics discussed above. Water cooler conversations count!
About the Co-Author
Tierra Jennings-Hill is a Senior Consultant in the People & Change practice. She over six years of experience working within the technology space as a project/delivery manager with Johnson & Johnson, and three years of organizational change management, specific to technology adoptions, with Centric.
She also has cross-industry experience within consumer goods, healthcare, insurance, sales and logistics, and technology.