Our very own Chris Andrew, Head of Caburn Hope, was invited to speak at Unily’s Unite 23 conference in September to share his thoughts on all things internal communications. Also speaking at the event were Stephen Fry and Steven Bartlett, who engaged in a timely discussion on Ai in the workplace.
The conference started with Stephen Fry’s speech, which focused on Ai and its scary and unregulated use in today’s world. He gave a frightening view of where we are with Ai regarding security, misinformation and deepfakes. However, Fry and Bartlett shared their optimism for Ai’s opportunity if we approach it with curiosity rather than pessimism.
This is the second and final article of insights from Unily’s Unite 23 two-day conference. The first article focused on connecting your people, trust and authenticity at work. This article will, if you haven’t already guessed, focus on Ai in the workplace and how changing your mindset and behaviour can help you reap the rewards of Ai.
The history of technology and the path of Ai
Ai. Few people talked about it a few years ago, and now everyone is, mixed with excitement and caution in the workplace. Caution is understandable when you hear about misinformation and deep-fakes; you can see why some organisations keep their distance.
However, Fry and Bartlett shared the sentiment that there will always be a new piece of technology that challenges the status quo, and there will always be concern about something new; it’s human nature to reject change. Bartlett told us that people will naturally bury their heads in the sand when dealing with something new that creates uncertainty. He also spoke about people’s reactions when social media came onto the scene. Like Ai, there was pessimism and concern over its use and longevity, but now it’s considered integral in businesses.
Fry compared Ai to Carl Benz’s automobile. He cited that in 1885, people thought cars would never replace horses as they were clumsy, unreliable, and smelly, which they were for about a decade. But at first, few could imagine us going on to build cities and other infrastructure, all to fit the needs of our cars today.
The cause for pessimism is understandable, but considering these past experiences with new technologies that are now fundamental to our everyday lives, we should consider that Ai may have a similar path. In fact, Fry stated that “we should be thinking about what Ai could be, not what it currently is.”
So, with this in mind, how should we approach Ai now?
Mindset & behaviours towards Ai
At Unite23, Bartlett highlighted the importance of leaning into a mindset that allows for failure and encouraged it throughout his speech. Whether from an individual level or leadership, it must be a part of your culture. If integrated, this behaviour can enable you and your colleagues to lean into new ideas and technologies more quickly than others. This is due to being braver, allowing you to have the upper hand over competitors that may be more cautious over new ideas and technology.
Testing the use of Ai in a working environment may fail initially. Employees may need help understanding or navigating it effectively. An organisation that discourages failure and reprimands employees can make employees frustrated and more pessimistic in adopting innovative changes.
An organisation that encourages testing and adapting (that can result in initial failure) creates trust between employees and employers, enabling everyone to try new ideas and better ways of working. And, of course, Ai can increase your productivity and output. The Nielsen Norman Group research specialists have stated that Ai can improve productivity by 66% when implemented effectively.
For context, Steven Bartlett believes that testing and adapting their use of Ai has enabled his organisation to:
- Translate their podcast into five languages while keeping the original voices, allowing them to tap into global markets.
- Improve their research into podcasts, adding efficiency and quality.
- Find the most valuable content from live podcast episodes, enabling them to create more of what resonates with their audience.
Bartlett believes Ai has saved his company millions, making them better at what they do. If your company shares a similar ethos for testing, adapting, and refining, you might have already enabled a successful adoption of Ai. However, behavioural change may be needed if your employees are resistant, nervous, or unsure how Ai will benefit them.
Communicate behavioural & technological change, from Caburn Hope
Behavioural change on an individual level is about lasting changes to habits and actions in the long run. In business, employees must adjust their attitudes, actions, and habits to enhance productivity, performance, and wellbeing.
In creating change, effort from your employees is needed when shifting behaviour. It may sound obvious, but getting your people to show interest and be motivated sounds easier than it is. Show that you understand emotional investment is required from them, and don’t downplay that this might be difficult. Reassure them that you are here to support them, that you know mistakes might happen, and that is fine. Encouraging an understanding that failure is a part of success.
Technological change doesn’t happen in a vacuum and is supported by behavioural change. Because of this, the overriding message to deliver to employees is that this technological implementation will make things better, easier, faster or more efficient and ultimately drive performance.
The most significant barrier to implementing technological change is employee resistance. You will be asking employees to learn how to operate Ai, and at best, that takes time and effort on their behalf. You don’t want behavioural changes to fall flat because employees are unwilling to engage.
Consider the following:
- Be creative. Technological change can be a dry subject (even with Ai), so bring lightness to the process. Infuse your internal comms and training sessions with a positive, upbeat energy.
- Emphasise the potential benefits of using Ai. Communicate how this technological change will improve the day-to-day for employees.
- Be patient. Employees are learning a new way of doing – tailor training and your comms strategy to their pace, not yours.
Or, if you need assistance in effectively creating change that sticks in your organisation, contact one of our specialists, who will be happy to help, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ai, friend or foe?
Stephen Fry emphasised the ever-evolving nature of technology, suggesting that we should focus on where it could go in the future rather than dwelling on its current state. While both Stephen Fry and Steven Bartlett share concerns about present issues like deep-fakes and misinformation, they also believe Ai has the potential to become an integral part of business.
The decision to embrace AI and its future developments lies within our control. We must cultivate the right mindset and behaviours to integrate AI into our organisations effectively. This includes the ability to test, adapt, and refine AI solutions to meet our specific organisational needs.
Steven Bartlett's success story underscores the importance of fostering an environment encouraging AI experimentation. By incorporating AI into daily operations, he achieved significant cost savings, improved productivity, and increased output. These achievements highlight why adopting such a mindset can be highly successful.
However, communicating and implementing behavioural changes within an organisation can be challenging. To drive change effectively, consider your approach to employee communication. Be inspirational in your messaging, highlight the potential benefits of AI usage, and practice patience.