Driving AI transformation in your organisation: you do need a Lead!

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AI represents a huge opportunity and a significant challenge for all organisations.  The changes will be profound, from personal task management, to process redesign, service transformation and ultimately new business models.

Leaders and Managers in the organisation will be tested as they shift their perspective, develop new management skills and implement new ways of working. Some will end up managing hybrid teams of people and bots.

AI’s inevitable development over the coming years makes a positive start essential.  It is developing at an exponential rate.  Think how far it came along in 2023.  How much more in 2024?  Will your organisation keep pace?  The job of an AI Lead is to ensure it does!

They will be a catalyst, helping you embark on this journey, navigate obstacles, build momentum, and get off to a solid start.  Such a role will focus the early efforts on building new capability to equip your people to deliver some early wins.

Each organisation will have different needs and priorities, so the job description for an AI Lead must be tailored to your situation and your existing in-house strengths.

In Part 1 of this blog, we explored why an AI Lead will be a necessary part of every senior team as new kinds of AI are introduced.  We looked at six key elements of the role.  In Part 2, we will look at some of the personal requirements.

What attributes should an AI Lead have?

1. A catalyst – visionary but pragmatic

The Lead should foresee what impact AI is shaping up to have in society and understand where it can take your organisation.  They should also be practical, articulating the costs, benefits and risks. They must join the dots as the journey progresses and input to your business strategy for the coming years.  Be clear that the technology is just an enabler – the key is that it must turbocharge your USP.

1. A catalyst - visionary but pragmatic

2. An understanding of AI’s capabilities and possibilities

While some organisations require AI Leads to have degrees in data science, the revolution in Generative AI is its natural language interface, so a technical degree should not be mandatory.  More important are business and leadership skills – the ability to answer the questions ”what can AI do and what can it do for you?”  Soft skills are essential, such as curiosity (to assess where are the opportunities), articulation (to frame problems and then ‘prompt’ AI models), and critical thinking (to test and integrate the results).  These skills will become important for anyone working with AI.

3. Business change and project management skills – creative but structured

Business change initiatives are famously hard to get right so all the old lessons learned must be combined with fresh new approaches.  As the initiative moves from experimentation to planning, delivery and benefits realisation, you will rely on a balance of creativity, change and project discipline.  An understanding of service development, efficiency and customer experience are key.  You will benefit from a pragmatic approach rather than a technician spiralling into their own over-excited hype cycle.

Where should the role report to

4. Good communication and stakeholder management – to win people over

The AI Lead needs to be an effective communicator, cheerleader and problem solver. They should be successful in engaging internal audiences.  Generative AI can help with this, from drafting collateral to analysing organisation sentiment and personalising communications efficiently.  Assessing change readiness will be an early task.  As AI shapes relationships with customers, external communication will become increasingly vital.  The myriad of AI opportunities there are is for a separate article!

5. An ethical approach to customers and compliance – to keep everyone safe

Everyone has read something about the positive abilities of AI but also dystopian predictions about the end of humanity, or at least the end of our jobs.  This is our starting point!  Both practical and philosophical matters will need to be addressed so ‘ethical implementation’ is a critical consideration for organisations.  More than compliance with Data Protection and AI laws, this will go to the heart of how the organisation works.  A structured and responsible approach will be central for keeping colleagues, customers, stakeholders and systems all aligned. This will build on well-established practices but with quite a new twist.

4. Good communication and stakeholder management – to win people over

Where should the role report to?

As with most organisation design decisions, there is no single correct answer.  As the AI-enabled changes gather steam, the AI Lead should have a senior management team Sponsor.  This Sponsor will champion the initiative and create the space and resources needed.

The AI Lead is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  There are many roles that need to interlock successfully so this one must be positioned depending on the dynamics of the organisation.  The Lead could report into:

  • The Business Change or Transformation Director. They will already have a delivery mechanism in place and can integrate the AI opportunities into their portfolio.  They can ensure that other work in progress remains valid.
  • The Operations Director, if the focus is to be on service delivery changes – providing they pay attention to the disciplines of change and establish an effective collaboration with other departments. They would be well-placed to incorporate customer feedback.
  • The IT Director, especially if your particular AI opportunities require a highly sophisticated approach. As always, the initiative must not become a technical system before a business solution.
  • The Chief Exec or another Director who has a real business need or a passion for AI and the headspace to devote to it.

Clearly the Board must be bought in to the process, whether to an initial pilot or a more ambitious suite of changes.  AI will change your business so they should oversee where it is heading.



An AI Lead will play a crucial role in building momentum and leading the organisation to success.  It is not too late in 2024 to embark on this journey, but the speed of adoption in your sector is gathering pace and we are seeing increasing customer expectations across the board.

Developing your AI capability is a marathon not a sprint, so the most important things are to start the revolution and then to keep it alive.  All power to the AI Lead!



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James Crawford
Written by James Crawford
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