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We’re hearing in our network that the organisations we work with are experiencing a profound sense of instability, of being in an ’emergency mode’ that began during the pandemic and doesn’t seem to have stopped. There are many elements: the war in Europe, enduring political polarisation, a cost of living crisis, supply chain problems, faltering globalisation, how we deal with racism, the changing climate and more – and none of these seem to stop conveniently at the boundary of our organisations.

The conference will offer spaces to look at any of these concerns in the context of our work as OD professionals. Two themes we’ll definitely be picking up at the event are:

First, the disruption caused by the pandemic is far from settled. Three years on from the first wave, questions around how we should adapt to the shift in expectations amongst employees are still very much open. Some of the answers are “… almost heretical in terms of how we might do things differently.” What have we got that might help us get to a place of stability?

Second, AI has appeared in a hard-to-ignore form. Yes, it’s been around for a while and we’ve been using it, knowingly or unknowingly, in machine translation (via apps such as DeepL), automated transcription (through ubiquitous for example) and image recognition (apps extracting numbers from photos of expense receipts is one use) at the very least. But ChatGPT offers a glimpse of the potential threat to ‘knowledge workers’ such as ourselves. ChatGPT’s own view of its impact on OD includes the assertion: “As an AI language model, I can help facilitate communication between employees, teams, and departments, and help ensure that everyone is on the same page,” and “I can help create and deliver training materials, and provide feedback and guidance to employees as they develop their skills and knowledge.” If that’s true, how does our offer to organisations change?

We’ll be announcing keynote speakers soon, and as always the conference will be a place to connect with other people involved with organisational change, both professionally and socially.

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