When the marketing team asked me to write an op-ed piece for our Industria blog, I did what any busy business leader with too much on her plate would do – I asked Chat GPT for help.
My ChatGPT prompt?
“Write a blog article about business leaders who disagree on remote vs on-site work models.”
The result was a well-structured “how-to” piece that represented both sides, “the remote work advocates” and “the onsite work enthusiasts.” The narrative arrived within a few seconds, complete with an introduction, the factors driving disagreements, a prescription for finding common ground, and a rounded-out conclusion of compromise.
It was impressively comprehensive, hitting on most of the points I would have likely covered on my own, but only after procrastinating for 2 weeks, staring at a blank screen for hours, and tossing out at least 10 drafts.
On the one hand, I was excited. I could check this op-ed box and move on to the next task at hand. Easy. Maybe too easy.
Then came the bullet I thought I dodged, the dreaded rabbit hole, the inevitable downward spiral of one question leading to another without end. The moment you hope doesn’t come, but when it does you realize how necessary it was and is to the creative process. And, if you’re lucky in your creative endeavour, there comes that moment when you brush up against something transcendent when the universe opens up just long enough for you to grasp the relatively tiny nugget you’re meant to share.
My rabbit hole begged me to ask the question, “What is ChatGPT missing?”
Artificial intelligence can’t know the multitude of conversations that took place between Sumit and me about onsite and hybrid work models, how our opposing views often divide us in ways that seem irreconcilable, and how these differences are not imperceptible by the team despite our best efforts.
I don’t believe artificial intelligence could know to capture, let alone describe my self-righteous approach, arming myself with statistics and articles to prove my point, only to find them thoughtfully rebutted on the other side, leading to a head-banging impasse every time.
And, there’s the nugget.
My well-intentioned approach is one that I’m sure other business leaders relate to. There is no lack of data to support many sides to any given argument, but perhaps what is lacking, where ai misses the mark, is not in the insight derived at the end, but in the processes it takes to get there.
We all need validation that comes not necessarily from the knowing, but rather, from the process of understanding. Sometimes I want to skip ahead to get the answers, and I’m grateful that we have the resources to do that. Other times, I just want to know that there are others out there who get it, regardless of the answer, irrespective of who’s right and wrong. It's through talking, debating, and sharing our ideas or perspectives that we, in the words of many math teachers past and present, “show the work,” proving that how we arrive at the answer is in some cases more important than the answer itself.
I believe that it’s less about compromise (as the ai-generated article suggests) and more about conviction, that we as business leaders can create thriving workplaces by embracing a multitude of voices. It’s not perfect. It’s nuanced and it’s messy. It swishes around in a grey area in a way that is both maddening and freeing. It demands the type of courage and tenacity that a few keystrokes will never fully grasp.
We as business leaders can create thriving workplaces by embracing a multitude of voices.
Now, back to my original prompt about business leaders disagreeing about remote work models. Maybe I took you down the rabbit hole with me with all this ai talk, but if you’re looking for the answer to which work model is the right one, you won’t find that here. Instead, the nugget I want to share is that we at Industria enjoy the benefits of a hybrid work model, not in spite of disagreements at the top, but because of it. The downsides, which we can all speak about at nauseum, don’t go away. The upside, at least for us at Industria, is that we have the opportunity to participate in many outcomes, allowing us to stretch our limits, learning and growing along the way.