July 9, 2023




In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at six types of generative AI, common pitfalls for strategy, the habit of overpreparing, defining content fundamentals, navigating succession in family businesses, and finding flow in a world of overwhelm. Enjoy!

1. Understanding Six Types of Generative AI

ChatGPT has drawn attention to how artificial intelligence can transform our working life. But it’s only one of six categories of generative AI we need to understand, according to professors Misiek Piskorski and Amit Joshi of the IMD Business School.

“A good starting point is to distinguish between who is involved in the interaction — individuals, groups of people, or another machine — and who starts the interaction, human or machine,” they write in Harvard Business Review.

Their framework leads to:

  • Chat GPT, where one human initiates interaction with the machine.
  • Coach GPT is a personal assistant that provides suggestions on managing your daily life, based on observing your environment and what you do. It might notice you need to build trust and offer tips.
  • Group GPT would be a bona fide group member that can observe interactions and contribute to the discussion, perhaps fact checking or providing a summary of conversations.
  • Boss GPT takes an active role in advising a group of people on what they could or should do, perhaps making recommendations to individuals or ideas for everyone to improve coordination.
  • Auto GPT involves a human giving a request or prompt to one machine, which in turn engages other machines to complete the task.
  • Imperial GPT is the most abstract category, in which two or more machines would interact with each other, direct each other, and ultimately direct humans to engage in some course of action.

“We urge you to think about the various applications outlined here,” they conclude. “And use our framework to develop applications for your own company or organization.”


2. Define Your Content Fundamentals

Content strategy can seem a vague concept, but it points to the importance of thinking through the materials you will use to connect with prospects and customers.

“Brands that have a documented content strategy are three times as likely to say they’re effective at marketing,” Siobhan Climer, a conversion copy writer at Orbit Media Studios, writes on its website.

She adds that you can define the fundamentals of your content strategy in as little as two hours. It starts with these questions:

  • What content do you create?
  • Why is that content important?
  • Who do you create content for?
  • What results will that content deliver to those audiences?
  • How will you measure the success of your content?

Then map how that strategy gets implemented. What channels do you use to distribute content? What formats do they require? What is the timing for delivery? Who creates the content? And, of increasing importance: Are there influencers in your space you could connect with?

She stresses defining who you are aiming to serve, what information they should receive, and what benefits are to be gained. She offers these examples:

  • Our content is where our sales team gets product info so sales and delivery are aligned.
  • Our content is where patients get billing info that provides them with transparency about costs.
  • Our content is where customers get troubleshooting guidance that empowers them to better use our products.

You will also need to evaluate how you are faring once you implement the plan.


3. Curbing Tendencies to Overprepare

The expectations of others can push us to overprepare. But Ellen Taaffe, a professor at the Kellogg School, says that over time we can also come to like overpreparing because it’s under our control and rewarding.

“We soon learn to identify as the person who knows their stuff.”

But always seeking perfection can be overwhelming. It can also hurt us in leadership roles since we must be able to decide a course of action with limited information.

“When we always depend on hours of preparation, we don’t learn how to move forward with partial information and the success or failure that results,” she notes.

In a new role, it can present a tough paradox: You can’t apply the same level of effort toward perfection that you always have, but you continue to believe you won’t be successful unless you are perfect.

You will have to rethink perfection: Sometimes, for leaders, enough can be enough.


4. Strategies for Family Business Succesion

The Family Enterprise Foundation conducted in-depth interviews last year with 25 next-generation members of family businesses. Their report identifies these five strategies for transferring power between the generations:

  • Nurture strong emotional bonds to the family business through early exposure and involvement.
  • Create a comprehensive training and preparation program for the next generation, featuring formal and informal learning.
  • Encourage peer interactions and mentorship to provide the next generation with a robust network to learn from and lean on throughout their career.
  • Find the right role through rotational programs for the next generation. Make sure they truly want to be involved and are fully aware of the responsibilities of ownership and are passionate about the opportunity.
  • Find trusted advisors specifically trained to work with business families to help maintain harmony by opening communication and improving transparency.


5. Zingers

  • Explain the Why: Carl Franklin Braun had this unique policy at the engineering firm he founded in 1909: If you were going to issue a directive, you had to tell the person Who, What, When, Where and, most importantly, Why someone was to do it. Staffers reportedly could be fired for violating the dictum.  (Source: Farnam Street Blog).
  • Yet! Basecamp co-founder and CEO Jason Fried used to be a hothead, and would react immediately to statements he disagreed with, forming a rebuttal while the other person was still speaking and flinging it out as soon as they finished. He curbed that by embracing the word “yet”. Instead of saying “I don’t like that colour for a design” he now says, “I don’t like that colour… yet.” The word has allowed him to grow into appreciating things he previously would have rejected. (Source: Jason Fried).
  • Find Common Ground: To persuade resistant audiences, presentation coach Gary Genard says you must establish common ground with them — as soon as possible. Talk first about how you share a common goal in this area or have the best interests of a certain group at heart. Then build your argument, brick by brick. Mentioning you have wrestled with the issue also gives them permission to do so as well.  (Source: The Genard Method).
  • TikTok Recruiting: Alexandra Anema, social media director at Bayard Advertising, says TikTok is the new LinkedIn for Generation Z and if you want to target a younger audience for jobs, you must consider it for reaching out.  (Source: TLNT).
  • Get Started: Life rewards action, not intelligence, says Atomic Habits author James Clear. Many brilliant people talk themselves out of getting started, and being smart doesn’t help very much without the courage to act.  (Source: James Clear).


6. The List: Six Strategic Pitfalls to Avoid

Consultant Mike Figliuolo offers these six strategic pitfalls at his thoughtLEADERS.LLC site:

  • Lack of Clear Mission and Direction: You must clearly articulate why you exist and where you are going.
  • Inability to Say No: You can’t say yes to everything.
  • Failure to Prioritize: If you have a bunch of projects that are stalled or behind schedule, you haven’t created priorities and properly allocated your resources.
  • Lack of Diversification: Are you excessively concentrated in a specific market or product, or are your bets spread out?
  • Starving the Kids: Are all of your resources going to one big established core business leaving no funding for great new ideas?
  • Not Revisiting Strategy Regularly: The plan should be refreshed every year, making sure everything is in order.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


Finding Flow in a World of Overwhelm

Not a week goes by that we don’t see senior managers, community leaders and board members bearing up under overload, fighting fatigue-induced procrastination, and trying to squeeze out creative juices in a parched landscape.

So what can we do to design work experiences that counter overwhelm and support a state of flow, focus and peak performance?

Jeff Fajans, a creative performance coach, put together a “flow checklist” to help us design a work environment where we can perform at our best, in flow, even when demands are draining our productivity. Some helpful questions include:

  • Will I be able to fully concentrate, without interruptions, for a sustained period of time? Set aside blocks of time, at the best hour, in a conducive place, and block distractions.
  • Am I challenged in a way that fully activates my skills and strengths? Break the challenge down and/or set it up as a “stretch goal” — not too easy, not too big, and with a stimulating (not overwhelming) level of intensity, pace and complexity.
  • Look at enjoyment: Is this something I actually want to do? Reframe your task to put more accent on what you “want” to do vs. “should” or “have to” do. Can you enhance the process to make it more fun?
  • Am I feeling self-conscious or worried about being judged? You may need to set aside some negative self-talk, worries and limiting beliefs. Beware of perfectionism. Consider how you can make the work less about you and more about others.

Fajans also suggests more familiar tips such as knowing what success looks like, using feedback to guide your progress, having specific rules and routines to follow, and clear goals — as someone said, when you’re really zoned in on a critical and fascinating priority, all else falls away as mere distraction.


What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: Power to the Middle by Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, and Emily Field argues that middle managers make our organizations work, yet are poorly treated. It offers advice for giving them more scope and support.
  • Rob’s Pick: Reading Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand by NPR’s Marcus Chown feels like chatting with a remarkably intriguing guest at a summer mixer. He examines the profound science behind 50 mind-bending scientific facts that help explain the vast complexities of our existence. Some examples: You are one-third mushroom. Babies are powered by rocket fuel. We are born 100% human but die 50% alien.


●  §  ●

8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8.  Closing Thought

“Stress comes from ignoring things you shouldn’t be ignoring.”

Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO, Amazon