April 10, 2024

Can AI Facilitate a Room?

Recently, I was working with a group of executives. Nearly everyone shared they were completely overwhelmed by technology. One woman openly shared that from the moment she woke up until the moment she went to bed, her day was consumed by a never-ending stream of messages, emails, social media notifications, and video calls. She bounced from one screen to another – phone, computer, tablet, even her watch – constantly reacting to the demands of others. I watched as the entire room nodded their heads in agreement.

Maybe you feel that way too?

The fact is, most of us are bombarded with information from every direction on a daily basis. It can be tempting to think that the solution is to add even more technology to the mix. Artificial Intelligence is supposedly going to solve for…well…everything!

But, I don’t buy it.

Don't get me wrong – AI is a powerful tool that can revolutionize the way we work, learn, and grow. Our team is experimenting with it everyday. But AI alone is not enough. As we become more reliant on technology, the need for human connection and experience will become even more critical.

I mean, when was the last time a machine made you feel seen, heard, or valued? Have you ever experienced friendship or care from a computer? The truth is, most of what matters in life is deeply human — and that’s especially true of the moments when we learn and grow the most. It's about more than just acquiring knowledge; it's about overcoming obstacles, connecting with others, and ultimately experiencing a transformation we can be proud of.

Enter the role of a Facilitator

Ok, back to this room of executives. The team and I decided to shift gears at that moment. Together, we guided the group through an exercise where they reflected on the times when they were actually doing their best work — creating, building, managing, or sharing their work with others. The group shared a rich dialogue, bantering about the clues and themes that were emerging from their responses. I was proud of the Experience Institute team — we leaned on our experience — reading the energy in the room and shaping the experience for the people who were in the moment with us.​

Because that's where human facilitators come in. These are the people who guide others in a way that engages the mind as well as the heart. They can tell stories that resonate, ask questions that provoke reflection, lean on past experience, and create safe spaces for discussion and collaboration. They read the room, adapt to the needs of participants, and create a sense of community and belonging.

Fostering Connection in the Age of AI

What does this mean for you as a leader? If you want to create a culture of learning that truly transforms your organization, you need to invest in facilitators. Give them the tools, the training, and the support they need to create experiences that inspire, challenge, and connect.

Is AI going to facilitate a program, offsite, or coaching call that fosters human connection? No. It will be a complement — a tool that can enhance and support the work of people who practice regularly and can design and lead experiences, and then graciously hold a room. Because it's the human touch that makes learning (and lasting change) come to life.

As you navigate the ever-changing landscape of AI and how it will impact you and your teams — remember this: technology is a means to an end, not the end itself. Invest in connecting, and watch your organization thrive.

P.S. If you have any thoughts or comments, or just want to say hi, you can share them at my post on LinkedIn.

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