AI overwhelm? A pep talk and some tools to cushion discomfort  

Overwhelming information data

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with artificial intelligence, Lior Locher and Liz Naylor offer practical tools and tips to help you, your team and your boss 

Artificial intelligence is the fastest growing technology in human history. It is the biggest disrupter since the internet, personal computing, or the printing press. That’s why there is, rightfully, a “noisy” space around it. And you don’t want to miss the boat on the conversation.  

Look broader and challenge orthodoxies – new transformative tech is the perfect excuse

But if you’re feeling lost, you are not alone! Few companies have enterprise-wide curriculums on the topic yet. And, as an L&D professional, you might need to build your own life raft – aka, upskill yourself and your colleagues first – before throwing yourself into the fast-moving water below. It’s terrifying. It’s exciting.   

Your time, attention and project bandwidth is limited   

The temptation, as with many shiny new learning technologies, is to do everything we currently do, but cheaper and faster, via AI. That is a machine job.  

But first, we need to use strategic intent to define what needs to be done. What problems are you trying to solve, and how AI can help with that? That’s a human job. 

Stop just creating more content faster with the technology. That should already take some of the pressure off and give you some strategic headspace back. Start shaping how you see L&D show up and add value with these new possibilities.   

Don’t worry about your job (quite yet). In the short term, this noise is actually going to bring more work with unrivalled volatility. You will experiment your way into more clarity. People who can do this well are in high demand. You’re on the same learning journey as everyone else.   

You might feel overwhelmed, worried or excited (possibly all at once)  

Reality check – AI capabilities evolve exponentially; your attention span, working hours, project scope and budget will not. Context helps, as does a good framework (sometimes). At the very least it will look good on a context slide and help with perspective, so you don’t get sucked into the maelstrom …  

The Gartner hype cycle maps innovation along five phases. The innovation trigger (phase one), peak of inflated expectations (phase two), and the trough of disillusionment (phase three), are all as they sound. They are followed by the slope of enlightenment (phase four) as we crawl our way out of the trough with increasingly viable use cases, experiments and tools that actually start working. But it still feels like hard work, and it is. We crawl out on our eyebrows and elbows, and are feeling it (that’s normal at that stage).  

The last stage is the plateau of productivity (phase five), which we are well-familiar with for formerly super-innovative groundbreaking things such as the internet and electricity (yes, you probably did a version of this journey before and can therefore do it again!). 

Right now, the bulk of us are somewhere between the peak of inflated expectations and the trough of disillusionment. If this feels messy, well, it is. You are not alone.  

How to stay on top of this without losing your mind: Practical steps 

Start developing a practice so you can handle this as the marathon it will be (not the sprint of a well-intentioned runner in January).  

If you’re in “hype”, pocket some of that excitement for your key vision. Take the dip seriously as an indication of the gap between your vision and your current reality. You get out of the dip by experimenting and learning from it, and learning from others who are on a similar journey.  

  • Pick your projects and experiments with intent to help you learn your way into more clarity. 
  • Look broader and challenge orthodoxies – new transformative tech is the perfect excuse.  
  • Make it a regular practice to reflect, learn and tweak… 
  • …and do that with likeminded folks. Build your community and share generously.  
  • Search for use cases and examples, and let them inspire you. And look beyond L&D (hello Marketing and Comms) 

Make that journey transparent and worthwhile for those around you. You aren’t alone. It won’t be the last round on the carousel, and the innovation muscles you train will help carry you, your team and your organisation as you move forward. Keep going.   

Lior Locher is Senior Consultant with NIIT 

Liz Naylor is Senior Consultant with NIIT  

Lior Locher

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