AI: More than just a Buzzword

AI, often seen as a ‘silver bullet,’ is not a cure-all but is more than just a buzzword. It holds tangible potential! When utilized effectively, AI can be a powerful tool that accelerates knowledge expansion and slashes costs, unlocking opportunities for organizations and individuals. The key lies in understanding how, when, and where to apply AI.   

In today’s business environment, every investment must be scrutinized. An organization should not be swayed by the latest fad, even if it’s AI. Every decision carries a cost and a potential return. However, the need for AI is not a passing trend; it’s a vital tool for survival in the business world. The challenge lies in implementing and utilizing AI, especially for smaller and mid-sized organizations lacking experienced personnel.    

While it is essential to have people who have technology skills, it is equally important that they know the organization and where the opportunities are for AI. It should be simple to determine who, if anyone, in the organization has this experience.  More importantly, who has the interest and ability to learn new technologies?  If people with this experience or interest are not already in the organization, how do you identify qualified people, attract them, and develop their knowledge about the organization?  

Individual characteristics 

Individuals with a natural curiosity are the driving force behind technological advancements. Their eagerness to invest time in new technologies, understand how they function, and grasp the benefits they offer is crucial.  Others may desire the advantages of new technologies but lack the motivation to learn about them.  Organizations are a mix of both types of individuals, each contributing to the organization’s culture. A people-centric approach, understanding and leveraging employees’ strengths, capabilities, and interests, is crucial for making informed decisions about investing in their development and fostering AI skills internally.  

To move more rapidly, recruit individuals with suitable skills and teach them about the organization. Doing this successfully requires screening potential employees for appropriate traits and abilities.  Curiosity, questioning, learning, vision, and adaptability are needed for the future, as well as emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication skills.  Understanding an individual’s soft skills is as essential in recruiting as identifying their experience.  Appropriate assessments can provide this knowledge and should be part of every hiring process.  

Organization commitment 

AI can do many things to help organizations, but it requires people who understand the potential based on the organization’s strategy, culture, and resources.  Forward-thinking organizations set a plan to recruit and retain individuals who can provide leadership as they move forward.  This strategy includes defining roles leading to the AI implementation and establishing a recruiting process to identify and attract individuals with the appropriate traits and experience.  It must also involve identifying current employees with these characteristics or interests and helping them develop. The success of AI integration rests on the shoulders of the organization’s leadership.  

Smaller and mid-sized organizations should acknowledge that, in many instances, the individuals they need to recruit believe they offer fewer long-term opportunities and, therefore, are less attractive than large organizations.  These organizations must have roles that enable people to fulfill their career goals to overcome this reluctance.  Define these roles by understanding what is important to the individuals you want to attract and retain and have the flexibility to provide it within the job context.  This requires a combination of vision, commitment, and employee focus. It is an investment that will result in adding and retaining people with the abilities needed for the organization’s future.  

A lot has changed in the last few years, but one fundamental remains: organizations must have the right employees to attain their vision. That requires a mindset of hiring for the future, including flexibility to attract and retain high performers.  Organizations that understand what is valuable to individuals and structure roles that provide it win the talent war.  Strong leadership that thinks outside the box is more essential now than ever!

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