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Digital Transformation

Thinking for Ourselves: How Generative AI Can Be A Tool for Thoughtful Innovation

Have you found yourself worried about the role of independent human thought in a world increasingly influenced by artificial intelligence (AI)?

Many of our clients express these concerns to us all the time. We hear for example, from people in education who are concerned about students losing essay writing skills; from people in finance who are worried that GenAI analytics tools will displace the need for human analysts. There are examples from every industry.

And indeed these are all valid issues to keep an eye on! But here’s the thing: as much as students still need to learn how to write essays, they will also need to learn how to use generative AI well in writing essays, or any other output for that matter. Human analysts need to be well versed in GenAI analytic tools; much of what those tools produce, at least for now, is shrouded in a certain amount of mystery as to its accuracy or reliability. It’s amazing to imagine taking a complex spreadsheet and writing a prompt that can derive just the right insight from all those rows and columns of data. But how can we be confident the tool pulled information from the right row, or the right column? It’s going to take savvy human experts operating alongside the tools to provide the greatest value.

The Impact of Generative AI Tools on Business Processes

And business leaders — like you and like me — need to know how to use GenAI tools to further our brainstorming, our ideation, our draft development, our editing, our research, our refinement, and every other part of our process, without relinquishing the disciplined thought process happening behind it all.

As we dive into the digital age, we’re regularly introduced to tools that, if used without care, can lead to an unfocused, even sloppy, outcome.

The same can be said about our approach to brainstorming, ideation, writing, research, and any activity that involves thought and content generation. We are in an era where we can enhance our creative process through generative AI tools. However, it’s critical not to use these tools as if they are shortcuts that only sap our abilities. Instead, let’s treat them as catalysts that can actually strengthen our skills, hone the clarity of our thinking, and contribute to our growth.

Here at KO Insights, we’ve been asking ourselves: How do we achieve our most disciplined thinking? How do we channel our thought processes to arrive at our clearest insights and make the best decisions based on those insights?

Image says "YOU have to keep bringing meaning and purpose back into it"

The trick is to keep bringing meaning back into the process. Generative AI writing tools are fundamentally about predicting the next word or words, and if you’re writing the most predictable sequence of words, they’re probably going to be boring, and maybe meaningless. But if we stay present in the process and keep reminding ourselves what we’re trying to accomplish, we can find the tools accelerate our own creative and meaningful output without compromising originality.

Understanding these processes enables us to utilize generative AI tools more effectively, and to guide our clients to adopt them into their digital transformation strategies. They stimulate our thinking, help us explore new ideas, and better understand our preferences.

Enhancing Creative Processes with GenAI Tools

Remember when people feared that synthesizers would spell the end of musicianship? Or when calculators were viewed as the demise of numeracy, and e-readers as the end of our love for books? Despite these fears, none of these predictions truly materialized.

Instead, these tools have carved out alternative pathways for skill development and opened up new approaches. The piano and synthesizer are a useful analogy. While we can all enjoy the melody of a piano, a pianist might also take pleasure in the diverse capabilities of a synthesizer. Both instruments offer different, yet enriching experiences. The love for music persists, irrespective of the instrument.

image says "we cannot leave meaning up to _" followed by a table listing possible next words: "machines 90%; fate 85%; dice 24%; cows 11%; pickles 1%"

The Value of Generative AI Tools in Writing

As a writer, I’ve long found value in using these tools, even when they’ve seemed to steer me off course. For instance, I’ve used Jasper in my writing for many years, and it has provided unexpected turns when I’ve been stuck. Although the tool may suggest something completely off track, this ‘wrong direction’ often serves as a catalyst that nudges my thoughts back to where they need to be, clarifying my intended message. Sometimes recognizing what’s not correct helps us understand what correct should look like.

Let’s not dismiss what these tools generate. They can guide us towards our thinking or steer us away from unproductive paths. The value of these generative tools persists today, provided we use them mindfully, with focus, clarity, and discipline. Let’s avoid a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ approach.

Instead, let’s view these tools as partners in our creative journey, helping us hone our skills and evolve our craft.

In the days and weeks ahead we’ll be sharing more of the working processes and frameworks we advise our clients to adopt.

But however you get there, in the end, it’s about adding meaning into the generative AI process, and ensuring that we continue to think for ourselves, even as we embrace these powerful tools.

Keep thinking, keep innovating, and as always, stay human in this tech-driven world.