February  08,  2024

Launching AI? This is what your Change Lead wakes up thinking about.

Every day, I talk to people leading technology projects for our clients and the Emerson change leads who support them. No surprise that the coolest projects are in the Artificial Intelligence space.

Organizations are modeling operational scenarios on production lines and making data-driven decisions using AI. They are using AI to better schedule their truck fleet routes and drivers, getting products to customers faster and at a lower cost. They are improving their employees’ digital experience through AI-enabled chatbots that solve their problems in the moment of need.

As IT project teams are focused on seamless delivery of AI to the business, here’s what a project’s change management leads wake up in the morning thinking about.

Are the Executives on this AI initiative all on the same page?

This typically happens when they’re trying to document the messages that should go to the impacted audiences. When this happens, the change lead often hits the “pause” button to ensure that sponsors and change agents are communicating clearly and consistently. They get key leaders aligned on the problem we are solving, the way we describe the solution, the approach, and the results we will achieve.

Have we identified all the impacted audiences for this AI project?

Will an unidentified audience “come out of the woodwork?” Ideally, key leaders participate in the current-state and future-state workshops at the start of the AI project. The change lead documents all the audiences and captures the new ways of working for each audience. They identify what each group will gain and lose with the introduction of AI, how best to communicate with them, what they need to know-learn-do to be successful. This detailed impact “topography” is the basis of every change intervention that comes after, so it’s important to get it right. So, after they think they have identified all the impacts, change leads follow up with each audience to validate their understanding. What they’re asking is, “Are these all the stakeholder impacts? Is there anyone we‘ve missed?”

What’s the best way to reduce fear and engage stakeholders?

Change leads try to figure out what makes each impacted audience tick; they use that to engineer an AI change strategy. A good change team uses what motivates each stakeholder group to help them engage in a positive way with the impending changes. Change leads also use that knowledge to come up with creative ways to focus attention on the change. For example, Emerson change leads engineer adoption by pulling three levers: they use what feels familiar to stakeholders, they give impacted audiences a sense of control, and create successes during the project so that employees feel safe and confident moving forward.

Change leads try to figure out what makes each impacted audience tick; they use that to engineer an AI change strategy.

AI is transformational. The nature of AI is that it gets smarter the more people use it. A change lead is the only member of your AI project with a laser focus on getting people to use your new, fantastical AI technology. The success of your AI initiatives, and the ROI of the investment, hinges on your ability to ready the workforce and customers to ensure they embrace the transformation.

For more information on the right way to engage the workforce in AI initiatives, read Artificial intelligence and your workforce: Three tips for leaders.