A values-driven AI use policy

A values-driven AI use policy

The purpose of the Essential Story Process (ESP) and its outcomes is to empower organizations with clarity and confidence. Recently, I drafted a client’s AI use policy statement and witnessed in practical terms how an Essential Story provides clear guidance in difficult terrain. Here, I share exactly how that worked. I’ve also collected a variety of other examples of complex or confusing situations that Essential Stories are helping organizations and businesses to navigate.

AI use policy guided by the Essential Story

My client formed an AI working group to think through how the organization would and would not leverage AI. After studying relevant resources, gathering and discussing various perspectives, and reviewing AI statements published by other businesses and organizations, it was time to formulate their own policy. But where to begin when both external and internal forces around AI are so uncertain?

My approach was to return to the organization’s “first principles”—the Essential Story we had articulated several years ago as part of their rebranding. I revisited the vision, mission, differentiation, and values. Each provides a touchstone in a variety of situations; in the case of an AI policy, I relied most on the expressed values.

Quite literally, I approached the task by getting into conversation with the values. I read each value then asked it, “What are you telling me about the use of AI?” It was illuminating and fruitful. Many of the organization’s questions about the “right” AI policy for them were easily answered through this contemplation of each value. Other not-yet-considered aspects came to light during the same exploration.

Next, I looked externally, considering expert guidance and examples of AI policies from others. This step exposed areas I had not considered (such as different types of AI — LLMs, chat ‘bots, image generators)) which I incorporated into the draft. Finally, I reviewed the draft to ensure that all the client’s key stakeholders — from partners to clients, staff, advisors, and funders — would be covered by the policy.

Today, the client is 100% closer to having an AI policy and can share the draft with directors and advisors for comment. Discussions will be grounded in the Essential Story and organizational values, and will be less susceptible to individual preferences or fast-changing trends.

Take-aways for drafting an AI policy:

Challenge: AI is evolving so rapidly that it is impossible to predict what coming opportunities and threats will need to be addressed. How, then, to write an AI policy that will be relevant into the future when every new AI announcement moves our world in new directions?

Response: Ground policies in the organization’s “first principles”, which hold strong in the winds of change. Essential Stories articulate these first principles.

Challenge: In any leadership team, there will likely be several perspectives on the use of AI, from early-adopter excitement to wary naysaying and avoidant Luddite. How, then, to write an AI policy that will satisfy all parties?

Response: Have an Essential Story that expresses the unique voice of a business, brand, or organization independent from any single stakeholder. This helps depersonalize challenging subjects and provides common ground for complex discussions.

Other real-world situations guided by the Essential Story

The more ESPs I deliver in a variety of settings, the more practical applications of Essential Stories I encounter. These are some recent examples:

Determining the right content mix

A fundraising organization is retooling its communications strategy to focus on integration and best practices. After completing the Essential Story Process, the organization is clear about how its context mix needs to shift, because the promise is baked into its mission statement.

Structuring service offerings & pricing

After the ESP articulated a service provider’s first principles, they were able to clearly define the type of client they most wanted to attract. This enabled us to structure service offerings and prices to meet the specific needs of only those target clients.

Improving customer service

Through the ESP, a web communications company crystallized its differentiation in a way it did not fully understand before. Knowing what they must never compromise on, they are certain to deliver their best every time. They wrote about it here.

Backing up tough decisions

A member-based organization has to make decisions about which top-tier members it will accept, but frequently wavered in explaining its decisions. The ESP crystallized the vision, mission, values, and differentiation that are core to the organization. These now provide a common language to explain and back-up sometimes unpopular decisions.

Saying yes to the right clients and projects

A marketing and events agency wanted to grow but was struggling to understand what connected its diverse client types and projects. The ESP made it crystal-clear and empowered the agency’s owner to pursue new business with focus and confidence. Read about it here.

Choosing the right partners

A service provider that depends on partnerships to win work struggled to explain their seemingly unrelated offerings or what set them apart. The ESP pinpointed their niche and differentiation, enabling them to identify and confidently approach partners that are a good fit.

Positioning and pivoting

Also, our previous article on positioning provides some real-world examples of how leadership teams who met the true identity of their organizations pivoted their focus and resources to great success.

If your organization, business, or brand is challenged by a lack of confidence or clarity, talk to us.