Employee Engagement is Key to Unlocking AI for Innovation Management
AI is not just about technology, it's about people. And as we find ourselves in the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it's clear that employees have mixed feelings—anticipation, apprehension, and even awe—towards this groundbreaking technology.
At the heart of this revolution, businesses must learn to navigate a delicate balance: leveraging the power of AI while also addressing the concerns of their workforce. Fortunately, there are strategies we can employ to tackle this challenge, strategies that not only help assuage fears but also encourage curiosity and active engagement.
Understanding and Addressing Employee Concerns
To allay fears, we need to first understand them. Employees, naturally, worry about AI replacing them in their roles. But it's essential to communicate that AI is a tool, not a threat. It's here to augment human capabilities, not replace them.
Encourage your employees to think about other instances where technology augments their ability to do their jobs. How many of them are bringing out the dictionaries and White-Out to edit their writing? With each technological advancement, we all move up the value chain. LLMs like ChatGPT can create first drafts for us (full disclosure: it created the first draft for this blog post). That means every employee with writing responsibilities in their job description is getting a promotion from copy writer to executive editor. Congrats, all!
Companies need to echo the sentiment of embracing continuous learning. By providing courses on AI and related topics, businesses can help their employees understand the underpinnings of the technology they're using. This, in turn, empowers them to adapt and thrive in a changing landscape.
Engaging Pioneers and Promoting Innovation
On the other end of the spectrum, we have employees who are eager to explore AI and its potential. Businesses should not only encourage this curiosity but also provide the tools and training for these pioneers to experiment and innovate.
AI not only brings efficiency but also empowers employees to take on more meaningful work. By automating repetitive tasks, it liberates employees to focus on strategic, creative, and complex facets of their roles1, promoting a culture of innovation and job satisfaction.
Unfortunately, in the face of this game-changing technology, some companies have essentially banned the use of LLM-based tools like ChatGPT. Ethan Mollick brilliantly describes the need to bring these innovators out of the shadows as "revealing the cyborgs", and reminds us these employees could exist at any level of the organiztaion.
Navigating the AI landscape, however, requires adherence to clear guidelines, particularly when it comes to sharing information with AI tools. Security varies across different AI tools, and it's paramount to avoid the exposure of confidential information or personally identifiable data outside your company, which could lead to potential security breaches.
By endorsing specific, pre-approved tools, companies can eliminate ambiguity and ensure secure AI interactions. For instance, LaunchPath's latest AI features, along with the entire application, are compliant with SOC-2, a leading security framework, ensuring high-level data protection.
Knowledge Management for Collective Growth
An integral component of the AI-empowered workplace is the strategic use of knowledge management to train employees and ensure their individual learning contributes to the growth of the entire company.
Knowledge management isn't just about storing and organizing information; it's about creating an environment where knowledge flows freely and everyone benefits from shared experiences and insights. When employees engage with AI tools and technologies, they gain unique understandings that, when shared, can greatly benefit their colleagues and the organization as a whole.
Tracking specific prompts and their outputs is one important way you can manage knowledge from AI exploration. This will lead to faster exploitation of new valuable insights your employees are learning. You can also create simple spaces for communication (a Slack or Teams Channel, or even just 10 minutes at the beginning of staff meetings) encouraging employees to share new time savers and value creators they're finding from the use of AI tools.
Preparing for Your Future with LaunchPath
While it's important to be honest about the possible job displacements due to AI, it's equally crucial to highlight the opportunities it brings, such as new roles in AI development and automation engineering1.
This is where an innovation management system like LaunchPath comes in. LaunchPath empowers employees to leverage AI tools, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning. With LaunchPath, businesses can streamline the integration of AI into their operations, test new concepts for feasibility and viability, and prove value early before the organization makes big investments in an idea.
In this era of AI, businesses have a unique opportunity to foster a culture of innovation and continuous learning. By addressing concerns, engaging employees, and harnessing the power of AI with tools like LaunchPath, companies can effectively navigate the AI revolution and emerge as leaders in their industry.
Edwin Goutier is the CEO of LaunchPath, an innovation management software company with the world's first nonprofit social innovation platform. Prior to leading LaunchPath, he served as Vice President of Innovation for United Way Worldwide. Edwin is a skilled product manager, innovation consultant, and strategy nerd passionate about the power of local solutions to address community issues. He has been honored as an Okta Nonprofit Technology Fellow, a member of Leadership Alexandria, and led the charge for United Way's inclusion in Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list.