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AI, Sustainability and the Outcomes. Appreciative Inquiry searches for and values the ‘elements’ within a community that make that community successful. Identification of the Problem Analysis of the Causes Analysis of Possible Solutions Action Planning (‘treatment’).

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AI, Sustainability and the Outcomes

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AI, Sustainability and the Outcomes

  • Appreciative Inquiry searches for and values the ‘elements’ within a community that make that community successful.

Identification of the Problem

Analysis of the Causes

Analysis of Possible Solutions

Action Planning (‘treatment’)

‘Problem solving’ next to AI

Identification of Problem

Analysis of Causes

Analysis of Possible Solutions

Action Planning (‘treatment’)

Basic assumption: An organization is a problem to be solved

Appreciating and Valuing the Best of “What Is”

Envisioning “What Might Be”

Dialoguig “What Should Be”

Innovating “What Will Be”

Basic assumption: An organization is a wealth of information to be embraced

‘Problem solving’ next to AI

The 5 AI principles

  • The Constructionist Principle (together we create our reality through the questions we ask and the answers we give)

  • The Principle of Simultaneity (change begins at the moment we ask questions)

  • The Anticipatory Principle (our behavior in the present is influenced by the future we anticipate)

  • The Poetic Principle (we have no boundaries on what we can inquire and learn from)

  • The Positive Principle (focus on the desired situation - the desired outcome, instead of on what is wrong)

From the strengths of Discovery we create our Futures




“What gives life?”

The best of what is.



“How to empower, learn, and improvise?”



“What might be?”




“What should be – the ideal?”


Words create worlds (or thoughts create realities)

Everything we give energy to growths

Summary: Two ‘laws’ of Social Constructionism

Introduction case

  • BT Syntegra subsidiary of BT

    • SI provider

      • > 5000 people (BT > 120.000)

      • Global operation

  • Division Learning Solutions

    • Responsible for selling and servicing Managed Learning Environments (eLearning) for customers in the EMEA region (and beyond)

Starting Point

  • Circumstances July ‘98

  • One of the 5 SNL divisions

  • Size of LS group: 100 + (fixed) / 125 + (freelance)

  • Beginning of dramatic downturn in IT training industry

    • Market: change of products, limited growth, cost reduction

  • Exclusively focused on the local traditional classroom training market


  • Stop the leaksfirst 3 months

  • Get organized /within 4 months structure

  • Get a clearwithin 6 months direction / vision

  • Get processes andbasics within 6 months, procedures in placefull administrative organisation description within 2 years

Why AI?

  • Positive experience in pulling together groups of people - teambuilding

  • Need for rapid change and high involvement of all people concerned (underlying need to keep people on board)

  • Lots of Knowledge and Experience (> 10 years of training experience)

  • No other way to pull this off!

Why AI? (In Hindsight)

  • Discovery of the Positive Core (identity) of

    • Individuals  learning

    • Organisation  networks

    •  resulting in elearning (or technology driven learning)

  • Core: Passion for Learning

What Did We Do To Get Started?

  • Organized a brainstorm with key players to decide on the themes

    • (teamwork, trust & communication within the division and reward & recognition)

  • Conducted a 1 day AI event using outside facilitators

  • From the emerging themes a Vision was composed

We are the leading organization in innovative Learning Solutions, facilitating change through practical solutions, bringing out the best in people

What Did We Do in Year 1 (1)

  • After the first AI day we followed up by traditional action planning and ownership (SMART objectives)

  • Established core group (3 people) that received additional AI training (UK)

  • Started using AI in other events

    • re-allocation (What’s the best workplace etc.)

    • communication survey (What’s the best survey)

What Did We Do in Year 1 (2)

  • Put up photographs of AI events, including possibility statements

  • Introduced ‘executive lunches’

  • Introduced ‘compliment quality signals’

  • Made a collection of tokens to remind people of values etc.

  • Created a booklet with information about every employee (e.g.. birthdays, greatest meals)

What Did We Do in Year 2

  • During the 2nd major intervention we introduced means to sustain the messages (combine ‘word - music - dance’)

  • Off-site as opposed to the office

  • Outside facilitation, including musicians (Art-in-Rhythm)

  • Continued with employee survey

What Did We Do in Year 3

  • At the 3rd intervention we introduced the Wall of Wonder concept (Vaughn O’Hallaran) and ‘art’

  • The 2nd communication survey was conducted, in which we asked ‘the appreciative question’

  • An AI section was included in our reviews

  • We became more conscious of furniture shape / arrangements etc.

What Did We Do in Year 4

  • At the 4th intervention we focused purely on the sharing through story telling

  • The third communication survey was conducted and despite a ‘grim’ market we saw a steady improvement in feeling-about-the-workplace.

  • Three additional people attended an AI workshop organized by one of the AIC members

What Did We Do in Year 5

  • At the 5th intervention we focused on ‘Innovation’ mixed the story telling with music (mixed success)

  • Shortly afterwards it was decided that Learning Solutions would become part of the larger BT family and an AI intervention around the integration was done

  • Another 3 people attended an AI workshop organised by one of the AIC members


  • 5 ‘Large’ AI interventions in 6 years

    • 1st ‘Traditional’ AI intervention

    • 2nd as the 1st with the support of music (art in rhythm)

    • 3rd as the 1st with Wall of Wonder and art

    • 4th ‘Traditional’ AI Intervention

    • 5th AI Intervention with music

  • Numerous AI interventions on various topics (also social --> sponsoring)

Wall of Wonder


everything that


everything that

you envision / dream

that will happen



Summary (continued)

  • Create ‘visibility’ - tokens

    • Booklet

    • Culture tokens & art

    • Photographs & statements

  • Follow up by positive action

    • Communication surveys

    • Integrations of AI in reviews

  • Internal support group & outside facilitation

Summary (continued)

  • Embedded AI in all processes

    • Appraisal

    • Survey

    • Coaching

    • Lay off

    • Customer forum

    • Sales meetings

  • All key people have attended an AI workshop


  • + Compared to other groups within BT Syntegra

    • > stability (lowest turnaround of people -> from over 14% in 1998 to approx. 6% today (still over 15% with BT Syntegra)

    • > flexibility in roles / functions (identity)

  • + Shared focus on where do WE go

  • + After 6 years the group is ahead in terms of admin. processes, thought processes etc.

Results (continued)

  • + In the Benelux NIDAP survey (Aug 2001): highest brand recognition and highest customer satisfaction rates (over companies like IBM)

  • + Made IDC top 20 list of eLearning players in April 2002, became market leader in 2004

  • + 4th Communication survey showed steady improvement in all areas

Results (continued)

  • + In 2004 BT Learning Solutions becomes the European market leader in eLearning through the wins of amongst others (from 0 to 6% market share)

    • MoD (€ 60 million)

    • NHS(U) (€ 13 million)

  • February 2004 eLearning becomes one of BT’s strategic propositions

Results (continued)

+Reduced the number of credits < 1%

+Have the lowest DSO of the organization

+/-Said farewell to some very valuable players (individuals) --> personal growth

-/-Slightly higher leave of absence and turnaround (only the first 1.5 years)

-/- Communication issues start to arise with other parts of the organization

-/- ‘4-D Fatigue’

Results (continued)

Sickness absence:

Investment in training:

€ 25K

External facilitation

€ 30K

Loss of productive days – total cost

€ 360K

Various (pictures etc.)

€ 2K

TOTAL: € 417K

Return on sick leave:

€ 994K

Return on reduced turnover of employees:

€ 450K

DSO / credits:


Innovation / Brand / Pride:


TOTAL: > € 1.444K

ROI case over the past 6 years


  • 40% CAGR for the next 4 years

  • Continue the search for the ‘positive core’, our identity – also develop our propositions

  • Hold on the ‘triple bottom line’ principle in a still a mostly ‘single bottom line’ company

  • Keep the AI spirit alive! Improvisation!

    • Continue the storytelling

    • Continue the art of bringing gifts

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