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How to Create an Organizational Culture that is Ready for AI

By Paige Kassalen

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here! No matter what industry you are in or what type of job you have, everyone is discussing the impact AI will have on the future of work.

AI is a broad term, but an AI solution is really just an algorithm that has been trained on certain data to produce a certain output. For example, when building a computer vision AI solution, you train a computer to be able to identify certain things in images and video.

To ensure successful implementation of an AI solution across your organization, you need to be thinking more broadly than just the integration. You must also think about the culture of the organization, and how you can create a culture ready to embrace AI.

Just like anything, you can create the best solution in the world, but if your organization is not willing to accept and embrace this change, then the solution will fall flat. Therefore, as you’re working to integrate AI solutions, make sure you are simultaneously creating a culture that is ready to embrace AI by employing these tips:

1. Socialize the Vocabulary

Working with AI and Machine Learning (ML) introduces many new terms, and if you are new to the industry, it can be difficult to wrap your head around what they mean. Words like supervised and unsupervised learning, labeled data, epochs, precision, recall, models, etc. The list goes on and on.

It is important to socialize AI and ML vocabulary throughout your organization, because it creates opportunities to discuss the details behind AI solutions, and allows your organization feel more comfortable deploying them, because they understand how they work. If you just dive right into solutions without properly socializing the vocabulary, you could immediately lose your audience.

For example, let’s say that you need to hire people to label data. Before discussing candidate qualifications, you need to help your company’s recruiters understand what it means to label data and why it is necessary for machine learning. By having this conversation, you educate the organization on the fundamental steps to create AI solutions, which helps you get buy-in for implementation and deployment.

By socializing the vocabulary, you help everyone understand how their role will fit into the larger picture of AI transformation.

2. Start Small and Win Fast

For AI to take off in your organization, you need to demonstrate success quickly. Large transformation projects can take from six months to many years, so with your first project, you want to start small and win fast, so you don’t lose momentum — or the attention of your internal stakeholders.

To avoid losing steam, you must show results within one to two months. For a successful AI solution, you need structured data. Therefore, for your first use case, think of what data you already have and then use an AI methodology (decision tree, regression, etc.) that can be easily explained.

Remember that with this new solution, your goal is to get buy-in from the organization. If you’re able to get a win and show the value of the technology in a few weeks, instead of several months, you’ll create the excitement needed to strengthen your organization’s acceptance of AI solutions.

3. Hold AI Ethics Discussions

There are still many unanswered questions when it comes to the policy of deploying AI solutions. No matter what level of exposure people have to artificial intelligence, almost everyone is guaranteed to have an opinion.

This is why it is important to make sure everyone has a place to voice concerns as you’re building a culture that is ready for implementing AI. Sci-fi movies and the media don’t always paint the best picture of how this technology can transform the world, so when you create space for AI ethics discussions, you can learn what concerns people have.

This is beneficial for two reasons. The first is that you can help ease concerns by filling in the gaps of how these solutions will work in practice. For example, in a lot of instances, AI will be a tool that fits into a larger process instead of being the final decision maker.

The second benefit of holding AI ethics discussions is uncovering potential blind spots you might not have thought about. Everyone has their own unique experiences, and by creating a space for people to voice concerns, your team will be able to adapt sooner if a blind spot is uncovered.

An organization’s culture will make or break your strategy for implementing AI solutions. You cannot transform your organization with artificial intelligence if the organization is not ready to embrace the solutions.

To prepare your organization, remember to socialize AI and ML vocabulary to help everyone know how their function will play a role in driving success. Don’t try to solve everything all at once, and instead start small and win fast with your first AI use case, to keep your organization excited about the potential of the technology. Finally, hold AI ethics discussions, because you need to know what is on your team’s mind to have them fully embrace the solutions.


Paige Kassalen

Paige Kassalen has an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and a Master of Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon. Kassalen began her career as the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Fast Company. Since Solar Impulse, Kassalen worked in the manufacturing and finance industries to create implementation strategies for a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. She was the Chief Operating Officer at CrowdAI, a start-up named by Forbes as one of the most promising AI companies in 2021. CrowdAI was acquired by Saab, Inc. in 2023, and Kassalen now serves as the Chief of Staff for the strategy division.

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