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In the ever-evolving landscape of association management, one tool stands out as both a game-changer and a potential minefield: artificial intelligence (AI). It’s the golden ticket to innovation, but also a potential maze of risks. How can associations boldly experiment with AI while dodging the pitfalls? We dive into helpful insights below.

Why Experiment with AI?

Experimenting with AI offers associations unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth. By embracing AI technologies, associations can streamline processes, deliver personalized member experiences, and derive valuable insights from data. Moreover, AI experimentation fosters a culture of innovation, empowering employees to explore new ideas, collaborate across departments, and drive meaningful change within the organization.  

But what’s the best way to get started? Continue reading for answers.

>>> Read more: What AI Technology is Right for My Organization?

How to Foster a Culture of AI Experimentation

Fostering a culture of AI experimentation starts with providing employees with the necessary tools, resources, and support to explore AI effectively. Internal workshops serve as structured environments for employees to gain hands-on experience with AI tools and techniques. Covering a range of AI topics such as machine learning algorithms and natural language processing, these workshops can help demystify AI and empower employees to leverage these technologies in their daily work. 

Hackathons offer another avenue for experimentation, enabling cross-functional teams to tackle real-world challenges using AI. While a traditional hackathon involves a group of application developers coming together to tackle specific technological challenges, associations can update this format to benefit their needs, says Bill Jewell, chief information officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in episode 22 of the Sidecar Sync podcast. For example, an association hackathon may bring together individuals from various teams and pair them with IT professionals to collaborate on AI applications. 

By setting clear goals and success criteria, associations ensure that hackathon projects align with strategic objectives and drive tangible outcomes. Moreover, hackathons encourage collaboration, creativity, and innovation, fostering a culture of experimentation and driving continuous improvement within the organization. 

Click the button below to listen to the Sidecar Sync on your favorite listening platform!

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>>> Read more: Claude 3: A Game-Changing Tool for Associations

Creating Guidelines for AI Experimentation

Establishing clear guidelines for AI experimentation is essential to ensure that projects align with organizational objectives and mitigate associated risks effectively. These guidelines should outline the purpose, scope, and objectives of AI projects, as well as the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved.

Risk assessment should be a foundational component of AI experimentation guidelines, with associations conducting thorough assessments to identify potential risks and mitigation strategies. Safety, privacy, security, and ethics should be key considerations in these assessments, with associations prioritizing the protection of members' data and the ethical deployment of AI technologies. 

Regular monitoring and evaluation are critical to the success of AI experimentation initiatives, with associations continuously assessing the impact and effectiveness of AI projects against predefined success criteria. By gathering feedback from stakeholders and monitoring key performance indicators, associations can identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions about the future direction of AI initiatives. 

Want to learn more about creating AI guidelines? Sign up for our AI Learning Hub, which includes a lesson on this subject and a downloadable guidelines template. 

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>>> Read more: Top 6 AI Guidelines For Associations To Follow

How to Manage Risk While Experimenting with AI

While AI experimentation presents significant opportunities, it also comes with inherent risks that associations must effectively manage. Proactive risk management begins with thorough risk assessments before embarking on AI projects. By identifying potential risks, associations can minimize project failure and mitigate negative impacts on members, stakeholders, and the organization. 

As mentioned earlier, safety, privacy, security, and ethics are critical considerations in AI experimentation. Associations must prioritize the safety of AI systems, ensuring that they operate reliably and do not pose harm to users or the organization. Moreover, protecting the privacy of members' data is paramount, requiring robust data governance frameworks to govern the collection, storage, and usage of sensitive information. Security measures must also be implemented to safeguard AI systems from cyber threats and unauthorized access, minimizing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents. 

Ethical considerations are just as important as experimentation. Associations must prioritize fairness, transparency, and accountability in their AI projects to avoid unintended consequences and ethical dilemmas. By embedding ethical principles into the design and deployment of AI systems, associations can build trust and credibility with their members and the broader community, fostering positive relationships and driving long-term success. 

>>> Read more: Generative AI and Trust: Steering Associations Towards Ethical Innovation 

Continuous learning and adaptation are essential components of effective risk management in AI experimentation. Associations must embrace a culture of learning from both successes and failures, iterating on their AI projects based on feedback and insights gained along the way. By fostering a growth mindset and encouraging employees to embrace new challenges, associations can stay ahead of the curve and drive ongoing innovation in an increasingly digital world. 

Ultimately, every organization will have a different approach to evaluating AI experimentation, considering factors such as the level of stakes involved. Compartmentalizing the problem and gaining experience with lower-stakes subcategories within specific areas can help mitigate risks and build confidence. While there are certainly risks associated with AI experimentation, the need to keep pace with external changes and drive innovation internally remains essential. Balancing risk mitigation with the imperative to innovate is key to ensuring associations remain relevant and effective in the long term.

Ready to Dive into AI Experimentation?

Empower your association to lead the charge in AI innovation while mitigating risks. Before taking the plunge, arm yourself with knowledge and expertise. Join our AI Learning Hub, tailored for busy association professionals like you. Gain insights into AI fundamentals, learn about AI models, establish robust strategies, and navigate ethical considerations. Take the first step towards AI mastery by registering today.  

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Allison Kral
Post by Allison Kral
March 21, 2024
Allison is a senior consultant at Ready North. She joined the agency in March 2021 and is a 2014 graduate from Ohio University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. With a background in magazine journalism, Allison harbors a love for writing and storytelling. She loves creating compelling content that engages readers and ignites conversations. Allison enjoys working in a fast-paced industry where she can grow, learn, and test her skills. She thrives in environments where she’s able to wear many hats—including writing, editing, marketing, social media management, and more.