Did a new board game find its way under your Christmas tree this year? The joy of exploring the rules, playing an open round, and uncovering the game's intricacies is a familiar delight. But, how does this playful approach compare to the way organizations navigate the uncharted territory of advanced technologies like ChatGPT and other Large Language Models?
The Board Game Analogy
Consider this scenario: you receive a board game for Christmas. Do you dive into the instructions, play an open round, or simply jump into the gameplay? Most of us would opt to play an open round, as understanding a game solely from the instructions is a challenging task.
Translating to Technology
The same principle often applies to emerging technologies like ChatGPT. Yet, surprisingly, companies tend to release ChatGPT guidelines, expecting strict adherence without providing room for an open, exploratory phase. It's akin to playing a new game with a rulebook but no chance to experience the dynamics firsthand.
Navigating Work Risks
Acknowledging the higher stakes in the workplace compared to a board game, leadership naturally seeks more safeguards. However, expecting perfect compliance with ChatGPT guidelines is overly optimistic. First, in most organizations, these rules were created in a vacuum. That is, they were created without knowing how the technology is going to be used. Secondly, applying generic guidelines in the intricate and ambiguous landscape of professional settings is rarely straightforward.
The Case for Open Rounds
Drawing parallels to board games, initiating an open round in the workplace could be the optimal strategy for swift learning and adherence. Yet, as highlighted by behavioral economist Dan Ariely in the Harvard Business Review 2010, such experimentation isn't a readily embraced concept within organizations. As Ariely wrote: "Companies pay amazing amounts of money to get answers from consultants with overdeveloped confidence in their own intuition. Managers rely on focus groups—a dozen people riffing on something they know little about—to set strategies. And yet, companies won’t experiment to find evidence of the right way forward.
I think this irrational behavior stems from two sources. One is the nature of experiments themselves. As the people at the consumer goods firm pointed out, experiments require short-term losses for long-term gains. Companies (and people) are notoriously bad at making those trade-offs. Second, there’s the false sense of security that heeding experts provides. When we pay consultants, we get an answer from them and not a list of experiments to conduct. We tend to value answers over questions because answers allow us to take action, while questions mean that we need to keep thinking. Never mind that asking good questions and gathering evidence usually guides us to better answers."
Leadership and Humility
What does not help either, is that leaders often ascend to their roles based on wisdom and knowledge, making it challenging for them to admit gaps in understanding. True strength lies in acknowledging vulnerability and embracing a collaborative learning journey. Admitting that there are many unknowns, will in the end lead to much better ChatGPT guidelines.
In the realm of ChatGPT, the guidelines will not always be clear-cut. Committees tasked with establishing guidelines face thus a dilemma. The solution? Begin with small experiments, and specify and improve the guidelines as you go along. This approach will result in more realistic and achievable ChatGPT guidelines.
In addition, expect your ChatGPT guidelines to be just that - guidelines. And realize that these will need frequent updating. With a technology that is still developing rapidly, your ChatGPT guidelines will be outdated soon after you have published them.
A New Year's Wish for 2024
As we welcome the new year, a hopeful desire emerges: leaders admitting the limits of their knowledge and empowering teams to discover solutions collaboratively. In a safe and controlled environment, the emphasis should be on shared learning and innovation.