Culture for AI: The human needs to be placed at the centre

Jerome Parisse-Brassens

Walking the Talk’s research on the kind of culture required for successful AI implementation has revealed that to be successful, the design and implementation of AI must start with people, placing them at the centre of the process. What do this mean?

  • Human-only traits such as creativity, imagination, intuition, emotion and ethics will be even more important in the future. Everything that cannot be automated and digitalised will become more valuable. Clarity of what is truly important, which values to reinforce, how decisions must be made and separating right from wrong (and the shades of grey) will need to be taken into account in an AI-powered world. It will require humans to clarify ethics, arbitrate between values and establish the rules that will define what the technology can and can’t do.
  • Too often, Digital Transformation is seen as a technology project, and that’s why it often fails to bring expected benefits. First, Digital Transformation needs to be clearly anchored in the creation of added value to customers. What’s more, enough attention must be paid to employees, or your run the risk of resistance to change. What are your people’s needs, how are jobs going to be impacted, how can employees add more value, how do they fit into the process?
  • In the future, people will want to understand how AI-powered decisions are made. In the same way that we want to know why our friends and colleagues reach certain conclusions, we will want the same from the machines. Banking customers will want to know what criteria were used to approve their loans and plant operators why a production line was closed. AI behaviour will need to be constantly monitored through governance structures, policies and guidelines.
An organisation that is Digital/AI ready:

  • Is able to articulate a clear purpose, expressed in terms of what value it adds to its customers and the role that employees play in delivering that value.
  • Ensures its employees are trained, have the skills, the resources and the time they need to deliver on their work in alignment with the purpose. Leaders agree outcomes with their people and then get out of the way to let them deliver.
  • Listens to both its customers and employees; is able to put itself in their shoes to experience what they see and feel; flexes to optimise that experience in a respectful, trusting way.
  • Encourages people to take calculated risks, to fail fast, and to learn together.
  • Makes personal responsibility a requirement for all; discourages blaming; and focusses on solutions, not problems.

These are definitely human traits.

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