A User’s Manual to AI: What Executives Need to Know

A User's Manual to AI: What Executives Need to Know

We know that ChatGPT and AI will radically change the world in ways we can’t even imagine. How we deal with that realization varies from person-to-person.

What follows is an interview not so much about the global implications, but more about how people like you, busy executives with limited time, can begin to use AI to leverage their time and their strengths.

(This 90-minute interview was distilled down using ChatGPT. Through Dom’s expert use of prompts, it captures not just the essence, but also the warmth of our relationship.)

Starla: First let’s start by talking a little bit about you. You have been working with AI for over 10 years. That seems like a rare area of expertise, especially for someone in the marketing and design world. Am I wrong about that? How did you learn to interact effectively with AI?

Dominik: I attribute it to a natural propensity for trial and error – also known as the innovator DNA. As a child, I loved experimenting with LEGO sets without using the instructions. This habit fostered my ability to figure things out on my own. Though, of course, as an adult, I’ve tempered this approach with more structure. Now, with a decade-long experience using AI as a design minded person, I’ve learned that when something goes wrong, it’s often due to unclear instructions rather than machine error. It’s about trying, adjusting, and not giving up.

Starla: Let’s dive in. What is the first thing a leader should do if they want to dip their toe into AI?

Dominik: The first task would be to define the ‘use case’. In simple terms, it means recognizing tasks that you do every day where you face challenges, and figuring out how an AI solution can help overcome these struggles. So, to integrate generative AI in particular into your day-to-day work, begin by identifying these use cases that consume considerable time and effort. Discuss with your team, explore how AI can streamline these processes, and then seek suitable technologies like ChatGPT to optimize these use cases.

Starla: Can you give me a more specific example of how the average leader might use AI?

Dominik: AI can assist with outlining articles, cleaning up language, creating content, and generating ideas. For example, in the marketing industry, AI could drastically speed up the process by automating some tasks. It can help distill vast amounts of content and improve storytelling. It’s even capable of transcribing conversations and pulling out key contextual relevance, which is a big time-saver.

Starla: Which industries are more likely to adopt this technology?

Dominik: The marketing and innovation leaders across any industry are likely early adopters because they experiment a lot. Financial industries too, as they see the benefit in making predictions and analyzing data – which they do already since years. The level of interactions just got so much better with generative AI. With Microsoft’s launch of co-pilot, an extension to its Outlook365 suite of tools, it’ll impact everyone, from finance to operations to sales to R&D. It’s not limited to a specific industry – it’s beneficial even for small tasks in any company.

Starla: What are the potential pitfalls of AI?

Dominik: There are a few. One is the accuracy of data. Another one is data privacy since the common generative AI systems use the inputs you give to train and optimize their models. If you use proprietary data, you need to ensure it isn’t saved or used for training. There are settings to control this in most AI platforms. If you’re a corporation, I suggest using APIs to build proprietary systems with your data. Then, there’s bias. Machines are taught by humans, and biases, conscious or unconscious, can seep in. This needs to be regulated. Lastly, copyright and responsible use of AI are crucial, especially with the ease of generating fake news or content.

Starla: Would it affect someone’s credibility if they say they got their answer from an AI?

Dominik: It depends on the quality of the output. If it’s well-crafted and insightful, and you clarify that AI helped you formulate it, it doesn’t affect credibility. The key is to add context. If you’re presenting, you can add a footnote saying the presentation was supported by AI. The goal is to show that you’ve spent time with the material, and there’s a lot of your own thinking in there – because the machine needs your prompts and guidance to do the work.

Starla: So, it’s about showing critical thinking and using AI as a support tool?

Dominik: That’s right. I believe AI is there to support your work and enables you to think harder, not replace it.

Starla: How does the idea of rethinking our work processes fit into this?

Dominik: We’re in an era that demands a rethink of how we operate. Technology is urging us to re-evaluate our routines, streamline workflows, and subsequently, provide more space for strategic thinking. The human-machine interaction possibilities are an attractive proposition for any senior business leader.

Starla: What unexpected skills might we develop while engaging with AI?

Dominik: In a world where human language becomes the new user interface, a key skill is communication. It’s vital to brief AI systems clearly and precisely – a practice that can enhance our overall communication abilities. As we refine our briefing methods with AI, this clarity will hopefully spill over into our human-to-human interactions, fostering more effective conversations. It’s about turning a challenge into an opportunity to grow. At least in my overly positive view on it.

We hear a lot about the responsible use of AI, which is vital for this to work in the future, and if we get this right, it will most likely support a behavioral change among humans by the machine simply not reacting to my incomplete or even inappropriate prompts. Like in human relationships, set clear context and do not make assumptions.

Starla: How do you assuage fears about AI replacing people when introducing it to a team?

Dominik: It’s important to first dispel misconceptions about AI. There’s no denying that AI will significantly impact certain jobs, but history shows us that as old industries fade, new ones emerge. Look at the space industry – it’s predicted to be a trillion-dollar sector by 2030 and will undoubtedly create new jobs. AI isn’t about replacing us, but about augmenting certain aspects of our work and life.

Starla: So, AI can actually make a team more efficient and indispensable?

Dominik: Exactly, and I would also add – creative. The idea is not about changing you, but about enhancing your abilities and spark your creativity. People who learn and adapt to AI will have a competitive edge to the ones who don’t.

Starla: How can a leader ensure the accuracy of AI outputs?

Dominik: It’s crucial for teams to present back the AI-generated content. It encourages human interaction and verification of the information. Also, always double-check the data, especially when it comes to statistics or source references.

Starla: If a leader is reading this and thinking, “I want to bring this into my team, what do you suggest?

Dominik: We have created a webinar designed specifically for leaders and their teams. It explains generative AI and teaches the basics of designing a successful prompt. We also have a subscription that provides monthly updates on the latest developments in AI. All these are aimed at transforming businesses into AI-driven companies.

Starla: Thank you for sharing your insights. For anyone wanting to learn more about the webinar or about Dom, check out www.Creative-AI.academy.

Starla Sireno is an NYC Executive Coach. She partners with leaders to more effectively navigate the complexities of their roles, increase their influence at all levels, and hone their interpersonal communication skills in order to become more impactful both internally and in client-facing roles. Inquire how you can work with Starla or her team.

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