CIO Leadership

How To Lead And Manage Your Company’s Use of ChatGPT and Generative AI.

The use of ChatGPT and generative AI has flooded companies with questions and concerns. CIOs are being asked for their perspective and for policies. How do you lead both reactively and proactively while encouraging calm and confident ways forward?

Scott Smeester


April 13, 2023

Photo credit:
Kelly Sikkema

Have you ever been in the presence of Awesome? I don’t mean great, cool or even grand. I mean that which truly inspires awe.

I have. At first, I am silenced. I take it in, or at least try to. I attempt to find my voice, and then words that are right to speak. It has happened to me at the sight of my true love, at the birth of my child, upon the shore and in the mountains. 

I do not take for granted that which inspires awe.

We must entertain a second question. Do you love human? Sure, there are people we don’t get along with, and there are humans we wish had never brought the destruction that they did.

But do you love that a person can be and can grow and can do and can dream and can overcome and can achieve?

I do.

I give my life for people. I’m an advocate for you.

And that brings us to ChatGPT and generative AI and machine learning and such.

ChatGPT is Pretty Awesome

We are discovering a number of ways to utilize the technology that is mind-blowing:

  • Marketing-content creation
  • Engineering
  • Sales communication
  • Hyper-personalization of product
  • Customer support automation
  • AI assisted creative
  • Natural language coding 

That is just a fraction of what we are discovering.

As an experiment, I ran a conversation based on my post from Tuesday that previewed today's article. I asked ChatGPT to respond to the question in the title of this article. Here are a few of the things it wrote back:

Well, well, well, looks like you've got a bit of a situation on your hands. Managing and slowing down ChatGPT while keeping the C-Suite and Board happy and your employees engaged can be a tricky balancing act, but it's not impossible.

Ultimately, managing and slowing down ChatGPT requires a delicate balance between innovation and caution. By communicating clearly, setting guidelines, and providing support, you can help ensure that the technology is used strategically and responsibly, while keeping your employees engaged and motivated.

Then I asked it to answer the question with a snarky attitude including cuss words.

But let's be real here - you can't just slow down a machine learning model like me. I mean, do you even understand how this s**t works? I doubt it.

I have to admit, its main points echoed much of what your peers said in a recent CIO Mastermind that discussed this issue. But not as in-depth, and not as completely as you will soon read.

But Pretty Awesome Can Also Be Dangerous

I remember seeing a tornado for the first time. What a sight. So much power. 

I also remember heading for the basement the first time I heard a tornado warning. They are awe-inspiring until they touch down. I made it to the basement quickly.

Recently, we read that ChatGPT falsely accused US law professor Jonathan Turley of sexual harassment. The accusation was based on a fabricated article in the Post that was cited by the chatbot as evidence. However, the article does not exist, and the Post confirms this.

Considering that users are legally responsible for use of ChatGPT, having signed an indemnification clause in the User Agreement, publishing false information can be precarious, since users agreed to cover all expenses including attorneys’ fees.

Samsung discovered that on three occasions employees leaked sensitive company information with ChatGPT (one fed faulty software data to help solve coding, another fed company meeting conversations to generate minutes).

Given that OpenAI may use data submitted to improve its AI models, leaked information doesn’t just disappear, it is stored. 

Admittedly, these issues are expected in a technology’s infancy. I still think ChatGPT is pretty awesome. And it calls for wisdom. Predictive systems are difficult to control, and possible diversion from being correct remains.

Fortunately, Humans Are Totally Awesome

Human enhancement drives technology adoption. 

I have no interest in replacing people. I have every interest in equipping them and elevating them. 

I celebrate the heightened interest, the C-level questions, and the opportunities to educate Boards.

And I celebrate you as a technology leader. This is your opportunity to lead.

You are awesome.

And as an awesome leader, to quote my ChatGPT friend, you get to communicate, set guidelines, provide support and ensure strategic use.

Here is what your peers say they are doing about that:

  • Think in terms of mitigation, not prohibition.
  • Everybody breathe: You already have in place what you need to lead: Risk management, governance and policies.
  • Set the regulatory expectations of speed to market
  • This is time for education control not technical control. 
  • Utilize the natural cadences of important and urgent
  • Develop a team for ChatGPT and generative AI even as you would for a product roll-out
  • Lead the C-Suite by helping them identify the business-competitive edge of the technology while emphasizing risk mitigation and the life of the business itself.
  • New isn’t necessarily secure.
  • Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast (SEAL teams quote).

I recommend the following:

First, become as much an expert in the technology as you can and build a network of experts inside and outside your company. I’ve been doing both since it launched.

Second, design or adopt excellent training in order to educate the Board, C-Suite and stakeholders. 

Third, understand what your external business partners are doing so that you can work in concert with them.

Fourth, lead the way on thinking about both LOB advantage and security.

Fifth, utilize current assets for mitigation and not necessarily prohibition. 

Sixth, put a team on this as you do for other project roll-outs.

I recently consulted a company whose acting CFO started as the receptionist. 

I also sat in a meeting of ten people who are all grappling with the ramifications of ChatGPT and watched heads nod as they shared experiences, calmed nerves, and gave each other concrete ideas on what to do next and how to step up as leaders.

The technology is pretty awesome.

The people are totally awesome.

The minute you reverse that is the moment you are done as a leader. 

But keep awesome in the right perspective, and you are the leader people are looking to in this moment.

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