Identifying Areas for Change – Should We Use AI?

I have been running workshops to increase the ownership of those affected by change and to identify areas for change.

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I have been running workshops to increase the ownership of those affected by change and to identify areas for change. There is nothing exceptional about this, so why write about it? Because in a world of AI, I sometimes feel a little queasy about the path I am leading people down. Read on and see if you are going to encounter the same challenges to your integrity as I am starting to see.

How I Identify Areas of Change 

As part of any kind of change initiative, we run workshops to identify how current processes work, which can help identify areas for change. 

We encourage everyone to create a shared understanding of the steps taking place in their team and the steps they rely on from further upstream in their organisation and to specify what happens with their outputs further downstream.

Identification of Problems to Become Areas for Change 

To create a desire for change, we encourage the identification of problems: duplication, missing steps, extended delays between steps, and rework. For example, I often use this simple breakdown to help people identify things they would like to do differently. 

This approach is asking people to find the problems; the emphasis on the negative gets the conversation going very quickly because all humans are faster at finding problems than benefits – it is part of our survival instinct.

Having established everything we would like to do better, we can use the workshop to create these improvements and establish measurable success criteria. Often, this means streamlining some of our actions and removing complications, duplications and waiting time. The impact is a more straightforward flow of work from start to finish.

Identify Areas of Change Using AI 

The above method enables everyone to identify and apply changes to their work and to feel a sense of ownership about these changes, which is the purpose of the workshop. So why do I feel uncomfortable suggesting we do this? 

I think the advances in AI challenge my integrity when working with teams to change how they work. The analysis they are doing helps them improve their work, but it lays the foundation for replacing human interaction with AI. After all, the basis of any AI transformation is first to understand in detail how the work is currently undertaken so we can spot areas that will respond well to system-driven decision-making.

I raised my moral concerns about identifying these areas of change using AI with those attending change/process mapping workshops with a group of change professionals. We agreed that we wanted to be authentic and raise this as a possibility, but we agreed it depends on the context of the changes. If there is already concern about job losses and restructuring, we might be adding fuel to the fire. If the group are actively seeking ways to automate their work so they have more time for customer interaction, then perhaps it is helpful to debate the future uses of AI.

Let me know your thoughts. The impact of AI is evolutionary, so the more we debate, the more we can shape how we use it.

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