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A Call to Mastery: Knowing Generative AI's Strengths and Weaknesses

As artificial intelligence continues to expand, it is vital for executive coaches and business leaders to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of AI. Recent findings by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggest that employing generative AI in tasks where it is not optimally effective can negatively impact overall work performance and productivity. Here, we provide a concise overview of AI's capabilities and limitations to aid in your utilization and application of AI.



Strengths of AI


Creative Ideation

According to BCG, the primary strength of AI is “creative ideation.” Their research showed that 90% of generative AI Chat GPT-4 users “improved their performance when using GenAI for creative ideation” and performed “40% higher than those working on the same task without GPT-4.” Additionally, these individuals “did best when they did not attempt to edit GPT-4’s output” (Candelon et al., 2023). OpenAI, the creators of Chat GPT-4, echo the creative capabilities of GPT-4 stating that GPT-4 “is more creative and collaborative than ever before. It can generate, edit, and iterate with users on creative and technical writing tasks” (OpenAI, 2023). 


Improving performance

Another benefit of AI is its ability to help those with lower levels of proficiency “nearly match those with higher baseline proficiency” (Candelon et al., 2023). This indicates that AI, when used correctly, can be used as a tool to help new or less skilled employees and business leaders perform at higher levels. 


Weaknesses of AI 


Complex problem-solving

Research suggests that generative AI models like Chat GPT-4 are not helpful for complex “business problem-solving.” This is likely due to its inability to “weigh nuanced qualitative and quantitative data.” In BCG’s research, participants were asked to use GPT-4 to “identify the root cause of a company’s challenges based on performance data and interviews with executives.” BCG reports that this task did have a “right answer” and all study participants were skilled enough to solve this problem on their own. However, when using GPT-4 for this task, participants “performed 23% worse than those doing the task without GPT-4.”  Furthermore, BCG states that “even participants who were warned about the possibility of wrong answers from the tool did not challenge its output.” Research participants report that this is likely due to the ability GPT-4 has for writing “very convincing” and persuasive text (Candelon et al., 2023). 


Reduced diversity

Additionally, generative AI, when used by a group, can reduce the creative diversity of the group. This is due to generative AI’s repetitive responses to similar prompts. This can unfortunately be a leveler of not only the individuals within a group but also different businesses addressing similar problems.


Why understanding the abilities of AI matters

It's crucial to grasp AI's capabilities and limitations, as this knowledge guides its application within an organization. Overdependence on AI for complex problem-solving can lead to considerable setbacks. Conversely, employing AI for creative innovation or brainstorming can be highly beneficial, especially when users accept AI-generated ideas without trying to modify them (Candelon et al., 2023). Business leaders and executive coaches alike should remain up-to-date on AI’s limitations and capabilities as AI further develops to most effectively use AI in both business and coaching. This ensures that AI becomes a helpful tool as opposed to a harmful crutch for business leaders and executive coaches. 


Key takeaway

Generative AI models like Chat GPT-4 bring great potential, but only if used properly. When using generative AI for tasks that are not its strong suit, such as complex business problem-solving, users had significantly reduced performance. However, when used for creative innovation tasks, users greatly increased their performance compared to those not using ChatGPT-4 (Candelon et al., 2023). For executive coaches and business leaders to use AI effectively, it is paramount that they keep up-to-date with the current capabilities and challenges of AI as it continues to develop and evolve. 


References

Candelon, F., Krayer, L., Rajendran, S., & Martínez, D. Z. (2023). How People Can Create—and Destroy—Value with Generative AI. BCG Global. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2023/how-people-create-and-destroy-value-with-gen-ai 



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