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Embracing the GenAI Revolution: A Strategic Blueprint for HR Leaders

People + Technology


In the span of less than one year, the corporate sphere has been revolutionized by the advent of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), a technology that has swiftly transitioned from a novel concept to a cornerstone of innovation across diverse industries.

The velocity of generative artificial intelligence's rise to prominence is exemplified by the rapid obsolescence of AI insights shared in a Harvard Business Review article on AI in talent management, published by two of this article’s authors in October 2022.1 Just one month after the article was published, the unveiling of ChatGPT significantly altered the AI landscape, rendering previous evaluations of its capabilities and limitations outdated. As corporate executives and senior HR leaders stand on the precipice of this transformative era, it is paramount to recognize the instrumental role they play in steering GenAI adoption toward enriching the employee experience and enhancing organizational value for customers.

The Importance of GenAI for HR Leaders

GenAI represents the next leap in artificial intelligence, where large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are not just analyzing data but creating new content that can include prose, computer code, images and video. This evolution marks a clear departure from traditional AI, which focused on machine learning and data analytics without the ability to generate novel outputs. GenAI platforms and tools, such as Microsoft’s Bing and Copilot and Google’s Bard, are already demonstrating their versatility across business sectors by enhancing decision-making, performing multiple tasks at work and providing sophisticated customer interactions.

As GenAI accelerates and democratizes tech innovation, HR leaders are called to help shape the future of their organizations in the presence of this new capability. GenAI’s unique ability to empower anyone to “code” through natural language is dismantling barriers and making AI accessible to all, irrespective of their technical acumen. This universal accessibility means GenAI can significantly influence the workflows and functions across all levels and all roles within an organization. It is now clear that GenAI has the potential to positively disrupt and enhance many aspects of human endeavor in the workplace.

A strategic and culturally integrated deployment of GenAI has the potential to elevate organizational effectiveness and competitiveness, and it is incumbent upon HR leaders to be intricately involved in the decision-making and implementation processes to harness GenAI’s full potential.

HR’s Blueprint: Envision, Own and Influence

As HR leaders navigate the rapid changes brought on by GenAI, it is common for them to feel unsure about their role in helping their organizations create a path forward. We offer a strategic blueprint focused on the key stages of an HR leader’s role in this process. This blueprint is a straightforward guide for HR leaders to reference as they seek to translate the general transformative potential of GenAI to their unique organizational contexts. HR leaders can utilize this three-stage blueprint to create and implement their own unique GenAI strategy: Envision, Own and Influence.

It is not enough for HR leaders to set the strategy for GenAI. They must own the process of ensuring that their organization’s culture supports the successful adoption and scaling of GenAI.


1. ENVISION: Articulate a Clear Intended Value of GenAI

Before taking any steps to integrate GenAI into their organizations, HR leaders must establish a clear strategic vision for the technology. This vision should be created in collaboration with CEOs and CIOs, ensuring that GenAI initiatives are aligned with, and can inform, the organization’s business objectives, technology investments, and comprehensive people and organizational strategies, from organizational design and hiring to employee development and operating norms.

Once the overarching strategic vision is set, HR leaders should then collaboratively drive top leadership to articulate a variety of related goals, both practical and visionary.

An example of a practical goal is scaling employee productivity. By what degree does the organization envision any given employee’s productivity increasing as a result of GenAI? Such attainable and widely relatable goals can help secure organizationwide support for GenAI initiatives.

In terms of visionary goals, HR leaders should help establish goals that align with and amplify the company’s mission, setting ambitious targets that inspire and motivate employees to think big about the transformative possibilities of GenAI. These could include using GenAI to accelerate the development of new products or business models.

2. OWN: Create a Culture that Supports GenAI Adoption

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It is not enough for HR leaders to set the strategy for GenAI. They must own the process of ensuring that their organization’s culture supports the successful adoption and scaling of GenAI. To help further frame this significant responsibility, we pull from Wright and Snell’s research2 on strategic HR management to divide priorities that affect culture into two categories: Managing Employee Competencies (knowledge and skills) and Managing Employee Behavior.

Managing Employee Competencies

Managing employee competencies involves understanding and developing the skills and knowledge that employees possess to ensure they are equipped for the changes GenAI will bring. Here are the two critical steps that HR leaders can take to manage employee competencies for GenAI adoption:

STEP 1: Hire Leaders with the Right Mindsets and Abilities

The success of GenAI adoption is heavily dependent on the leaders who drive it. When the opportunity arises during the GenAI journey, HR leaders must prioritize hiring individuals for senior roles who are not only tech-savvy but also open to experimentation and lifelong learning.3 These leaders should be aligned with the strategic vision for GenAI and capable of fostering a culture of innovation.

Not only will this enable the success of your GenAI initiatives down the line, but research also indicates that leaders who are perceived to have high levels of tech-savviness tend to inspire a culture where employees feel encouraged to speak up and contribute new ideas, which is invaluable for innovation.

STEP 2: Provide Resources and Training for Employee Upskilling with GenAI

HR leaders intuitively understand the importance of employee upskilling for their GenAI endeavors. However, the importance of training is underscored in a recent MIT Technology Review Insights survey in which 600 global tech executives named employee training and upskilling as their No. 1 difficulty in AI platform implementation.4

HR leaders should start upskilling with a first wave of general enablement tools that will help all employees rapidly onboard to GenAI usage. They should then quickly and responsively start creating upskilling resources for specific employee personas (e.g., tech-focused employees, senior leaders) that are in line with both the overarching GenAI vision and strategy as well as feedback from employees.

While designing an upskilling approach, it is also critical for HR leaders to balance providing explicit AI guidance with giving workers the freedom to experiment with GenAI tools. As noted by Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory, employees who are intrinsically motivated are much more likely to stick with GenAI tool usage despite challenges.5 Providing employees with choices in how they engage with and learn about GenAI tools and prioritizing employees’ relevant application of GenAI over rote learning are ways to help build this intrinsic motivation.

HR leaders should seek to customize their upskilling programs for their specific context, but they should leverage the plethora of publicly available training materials as a foundation. And GenAI itself can also be leveraged as a tool for ongoing learning. University professors are already leveraging GenAI as coaches and mentors in their classrooms,6 and learning providers such as 360 Learning have already launched GenAI-based services to assist organizations in their broader upskilling efforts.

Managing Employee Behaviors

Managing employee behaviors is about shaping how employees use their competencies within the organization and aligning their actions with strategic objectives. For GenAI adoption to be successful, HR leaders must guide behaviors in a way that supports innovation and responsible use of technology. Here are four critical steps that HR leaders can take to manage employee behaviors for GenAI adoption:

STEP 1: Create GenAI Champions in Leadership and Across Your Organization

The presence of GenAI champions in your leadership team can significantly influence the successful adoption of the technology. HR leaders should prioritize senior leader enablement with GenAI, focusing on sharing the “what” and “why” behind the organization’s drive to adopt GenAI.

Senior leader GenAI champions should then actively encourage experimentation and use of GenAI across their teams, role modeling GenAI usage and reinforcing the cultural norms and expectations advanced by HR that employees should be experimenting with GenAI to find valuable applications in their daily work. HR leaders and leadership champions can also implement organizational structures that encourage experimentation (e.g., hackathons, ideathons) and organically identify GenAI champions from the wider employee base using these structures.

These GenAI champion employees should then be empowered to support their peers with GenAI applications in the flow of work, such as peer-led office hours and sharing a library of successful employee-developed use cases and prompts. This is an excellent way to supplement the organization’s top-down learning strategy with a ground-up source of enablement support.

STEP 2: Set a Tone of Healthy Skepticism Around GenAI

While GenAI can provide accurate and valuable assistance, it is important to foster an approach to GenAI that promotes healthy skepticism among employees. HR leaders should encourage staff to critically evaluate GenAI outputs and maintain a balance between automation and human oversight in their workflows.

A tone of healthy skepticism still sets positive expectations for the value of GenAI within the organization, which can reinforce individual employees' persistence as they seek to find ways to apply GenAI to their specific work.

STEP 3: Make Responsible AI Usage the Default

A responsible approach to AI usage involves the setting of clear policies around data usage, privacy and discoverability, as well as the implementation of robust security measures around an organization’s data.

Because many datasets that could potentially be fed through GenAI tools are sensitive and personnel-related, it is imperative that HR be involved in both setting these policies and embedding compliance with these policies as the default norm in the organization’s culture. To achieve this, HR leaders can take steps such as embedding responsible AI policies into GenAI upskilling and hosting broad discussions about ethical applications of AI.

STEP 4: Keep Employees in the Loop

It is critical for HR executives to proactively engage with employees, management and IT teams from the onset of their organization’s GenAI journey to assess feasibility, identify potential barriers and address any obstacles that may arise. As initiatives progress, establishing a robust feedback loop becomes critical, allowing for agile responses to the personal and professional impacts GenAI may have on employee roles and the organizational structure.

Such feedback aids not only in refining GenAI strategies but also in swiftly addressing resistance to change, dispelling misconceptions and reinforcing the value GenAI brings to the company. Moreover, fostering an environment that encourages employees to share their GenAI experiences and insights can unveil common challenges and solutions, stimulating collaboration and dismantling silos.

It is critical for HR leaders to balance providing explicit AI guidance with giving employees the freedom to experiment with GenAI tools. … Employees who are intrinsically motivated are much more likely to stick with GenAI tool usage despite challenges.”


3. INFLUENCE: Ensure Alignment with Human Capital Strategies

Decisions made by organizations now will have profound implications on how employees work, perceive their roles and see themselves in the corporate structure. That’s why it is vital for HR leaders to exert sustained influence on GenAI policies and investments to ensure those decisions are aligned with the human capital strategies.

HR should advocate for piloting various GenAI applications in controlled settings, rather than committing to a single solution and then potentially having to switch the entire employee base to a different solution a few months later. This approach allows for the assessment of different tools’ effectiveness and ensures that the organization does not become overly reliant on a single GenAI application.

HR leaders must also set the expectation for emergent change, both within the leadership and the wider organization. The capabilities of GenAI are advancing at an exponential rate, with limitations seen today likely to be overcome within the next year or two. This rapid pace of development necessitates that organizations remain agile, continuously updating their GenAI strategies, organizational designs and operating models in response to both feedback from within the organization and external evolution of the technology.7

By maintaining a strategic position at the decision-making table, HR can ensure that the adoption and scaling of GenAI are conducted responsibly, ethically, and in a manner that supports the organization’s mission and enhances employee experiences.

Conclusion: The potential for GenAI to transform how organizations operate and how employees approach their work is immense. As exemplified by our collaboration with an LLM in drafting this article, the use of GenAI in workflows across industries is becoming a new norm and employee expectation.

For HR leaders, the call to action is urgent and clear: No matter your organization’s stage in embracing GenAI, it is imperative to prioritize investments in organizational adoption now. Start by collaboratively setting a strategic vision. Then, own the creation of a GenAI-supportive culture and influence the organization’s readiness for future GenAI evolution.

Employees in every organization are likely already experimenting with GenAI tools. By taking strategic steps now, HR leaders can channel these individual experiments into a cohesive engine of value creation and innovation for their organizations.   


David Porter is the senior director of digital and corporate learning at Moderna.

Nkiruka Ogbuchiekwe is the senior director of leadership, management and culture at Moderna.

Jungae Kim-Schmid is the manager of MBA programs at Moderna.

Roshni Raveendhran is an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Brad Winn is a professor of leadership and strategy in the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. 
Note: The views represented in this article are the authors’ individual views and do not represent Moderna’s views on this subject.


  1.  Raveendhran, R., and Kim-Schmid, J., “Where AI can–and can’t–help talent management,” Harvard Business Review, 2022.
  2.  Wright, P. M., and Snell, S. A., “Toward an integrative view of strategic human resource management,” Human Resource Management Review, 1991.
  3.  Raveendhran, R., Ryu, J., and Guarana, C., “Managerial Technological Savviness Increases Employees’ Willingness to Speak Up,” working paper, 2024.
  4.  McCauley, D., “Laying the foundation for data- and AI-led growth,” MIT Technology Review Insights, 2023.
  5.  Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L., “Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being,” American Psychologist, 2000.
  6.  Mollick, E., “Assigning AI: Seven ways of using AI in class,” One Useful Thing, June 2023.
  7.  Tsoukas, H., and Chia, R., “An organizational becoming: Rethinking organizational change,” Organization Science, 2002.