Sitting at a table, taking a little break, are two participants from the Phillipines, Jean Lapa and Grace Tyler. They are students at SAIDI School of Organization Development. What brings them here? “Well, very simple”, Jean says, “our Dean, Rosa Fuentes, presents a paper here, and we came to support her!’ “And to learn for ourselves!”, Grace adds with a big smile. Both agree: “You can only support something that you believe in yourself”. And it is clear that they are very enthusiastic about Appreciative Inquiry.
AI in work life
Grace is Dean of an IT college and pursues a PhD in OD. She is looking for ways to use AI to maximize the potential of IT. For instance to enhance education and make it more accessible for all. “That is a big problem in the Philippines. And I am convinced that we can use IT in ways that we don’t even know yet. I really think we can use AI as a perspective to explore its potential.”
They both have examples of things they have learnt here that they can use in their work. But also more personal stuff.
AI in personal life
Jean, who is head of HR in a retail organisation and works on a PhD on empowerment, shares how much she was touched by Ken Gergen and Danielle Zandees dialogue about making meaning of words. “I loved that. It is very simple, but profound at the same time. You give meaning to the words of others. And the way that you frame them, and they way you respond, has a big impact on the rest of the interaction. Does it spiral upward? Or do you bring each other down? That realisation is something that I can use everyday, in all kinds of interactions. In business, but also with my kids. How do I bring out the best in them, and in myself?
As we start talking about cultural differences in using AI, we are joined by Perla Bernardo, consultant at PeopleSparx. She immediately chimes in, and all three agree: “AI resonates with some very universal human values, which run across different cultures. We can use AI principles and apply them to our own context. That is the beauty of AI, it is not a recipe. But a set of principles that you can apply in a way that fits a particular situation. The language, the customs, the time you have available… everything.”
Especially Perla is passionate about this point: “That’s so great about AI! You can experiment with it. It is not about applying the 4 D’s all the time. I have had projects where the Discovery phase was enough to set a lot in motion. You also don’t need a high luxury summit, it can be simple. Much is possible. That is also the beauty of a conference like this. I have heard so many different examples…. That in itself is another encouragement to apply AI in a way that fits our context. And us.”
By Saskia Tjepkema
This is the second in a small series of participant’s portraits. Just to give a glimpse of the great diversity of people who attended and their range of stories. Other portraits are of Rafael, Shelagh and Daniel.