Many executives have high hopes for implementing Artificial Intelligence within their organizations. These high hopes are often dashed due to a pervasive lack of understanding on the capabilities of AI as it exists now. Barriers to AI adoption are often exacerbated by this lack of understanding as well.
The promise of AI is compelling, as are some of the concerns. Before gaining a thorough understanding of the technology, executives should spend some time brushing up on their change management skills.
Change comes in a multitude of forms; to include technology. But technological revolution is nothing new. For instance, nearly 150 years ago 50% of the labor force worked in agriculture.[i] Today the number of agricultural workers in the US sits around 1.3%.[ii] All those agricultural workers transitioned to new jobs. Many experts believe the coming wave of AI innovation will result in new jobs as well. They say a lot of those new jobs will be ones we haven’t even thought of yet.[iii] This perspective is of little comfort to the labor force. “This time it’s different.” is a swan song from the world of finance, yet I’d argue it fits with AI because the speed at which AI is disrupting industry after industry is much faster than the transition from an agricultural, to an industrial, to a service economy.
Implementing AI strategy requires a bit of a cultural shift for many organizations. Executives need to foster a culture which supports change and embraces disruption; much like a start-up.[iv] Incentives need to be aligned and employees shouldn’t pay a penalty for failed experiments.
How you address the change management part of implementing AI initiatives in your organization will probably be the most critical component of your AI implementation strategy. All change is disruption in one form or another, and brings fear of the unknown with it. It’s important to integrate your AI initiatives in such away they are viewed as opportunities and not threats.[v]
[i] Daly, Patricia. “Agricultural Employment: Has the Decline Ended? .” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1981, www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1981/11/art2full.pdf .
[ii] “Agriculture and Its Related Industries Provide 11 Percent of U.S. Employment.” USDA ERS — Chart Detail, 2018, www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=58282.
[iii] Lepore, Jill. “Are Robots Competing for Your Job?” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 25 June 2019, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/04/are-robots-competing-for-your-job.
[iv] Team, Insights. “Three Key Principles Of Change Management.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 15 Mar. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/insights-pmi/2019/03/15/three-key-principles-of-change-management/#2df3e5175829.
[v] Charece Newell, MSILR. “Change As An Opportunity: A Strategic Approach To Change Management.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 July 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/07/20/change-as-an-opportunity-a-strategic-approach-to-change-management/#4b2555112241