EZRA Science Board: AI and the Future

Jonathan Passmore
Mar 13 2024 | Approfondimenti
A woman in a coaching session smiling at her laptop.

EZRA’s recent Science Board meeting explored one of the major challenges facing leaders, organizations and human resources professionals: how can AI be leveraged in learning and development? The last twelve months have seen fast-paced development beginning with the emergence of OpenAI’s Chat-GPT and followed by multiple technologically similar chatbot products.

While there was universal agreement that generative AI technology will reshape learning and development, it is less clear how and when these changes would start to have a serious impact on leaders and organizations.

One perspective expressed by an EZRA Science Board member was that AI coachbots are still a long way behind the quality of human coaching conversations. The bots too frequently slip into advice mode or ask multiple questions. There is also little time for reflection as bots find it impossible to hold silence and provide quality thinking space, an essential ingredient of high-quality coaching. They noted that bots also tend to lack a sense of humour, potentially resulting in an overly serious interaction that may not be as worthwhile as a human encounter.

A further consideration raised was how committed the manager might be to stay in the conversation with a bot for more than 10 or 15 minutes, and how willing they may be to return for future sessions. The lack of human accountability may also make commitments made in the session less meaningful, even if the bot was able to recall the conversation from the last time as part of the session check-in.

On the other hand, AI coachbots may offer some advantages. For example, a lack of judgment may mean coachees are more willing to self-disclose, particularly concerning aspects that could be perceived as shameful or embarrassing.

Technology is also available 24/7, offering the opportunity for last-minute conversation at unsociable hours. Cost will also be a driver, even if the quality of the conversation may be impaired.

What’s evident is that the future of AI in business development is bright. Even if AI bots are not a replacement for human coaches whose relational skills, humour, creativity and presence cannot yet be replicated. There are other roles AI can play, from nudging behavioural change to improving coach and coachee matching to acting as a between-session assistant.

The conclusion from EZRA’s council of experts was that AI will become part of coaching, though the greatest value will be gained from nuanced and skilful deployment. This way, AI will enhance the user experience, add value to the coaching process, and offer a lasting impact for organizations and their employees.

Esplora altre risorse Approfondimenti