The CEO’s Guide to AI: A Strategic way to look at AI tool adoption

[Want to get automatic updates on ethel cofie’s blog post of Africa, technology, ecosystems and doing business in Africa sign up here ]

Title: The CEO’s Guide to AI: A Strategic way to look at AI tool adoption

If you are like me and are just fed up with tactical titles like ‘best prompt to use for ChatGPT or ‘here are 10 tools that are not ChatGPT’, this might be an article for you. This article is written to give CEO’s and Heads of HR a strategic approach to preparing their teams to integrating AI productivity tools into their daily tasks.

Additionally, this writeup articulates how individuals and organizations can make the choice on the productivity tools and understand the skill set they need to sharpen in order to make more efficient and cost effect use of the AI tools available to them.


ChatGPT brought Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the mass market, prior to that there were a number of AI powered tools but ChatGPT in a sense made most people feel like they have the power of Artificial Intelligence at their finger tips.

The most common AI tools most people will come in contact with are Natural Language processing (NLP) tools which are primarily used to build AI virtual assistants.

Natural language processing (NLP) is a machine learning technology that gives computers the ability to interpret, manipulate, and comprehend human language e.g ChatGPT.


AI’s Impact on work

Anecdotally, I think we all know AI is going to impact how we work, here is the data to back it up:

Goldman Sachs in a recent study has asserted that generative AI could raise global GDP by almost 7%, which is a substantial shift from one category of technology.

[Want to get automatic updates on ethel cofie’s blog post of Africa, technology, ecosystems and doing business in Africa sign up here ]

Additionally, a study by the US National Bureau of Economic Research found that generative AI boosts productivity by 14%, reduces stress and increases employee retention in customer support roles.

Finally, a Harvard review article has found that organizations that use AI in the Sales process see an increase in leads and appointments of more than 50%, cost reductions of 40%–60%, and call time reductions of 60%–70%.

How can AI assist in the workplace?

  • The AI technologies enable professionals to extract valuable insights from vast amounts of textual data, such as customer feedback, market research, and social media conversations. This data-driven decision-making enhances productivity by facilitating targeted strategies and optimized operations.
  • AI-powered virtual assistants are built to automate administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, managing calendars, and organizing emails, allowing professionals to focus on high-value work. This results in time saving and increased productivity.
  • Content creation has been made more efficient because AI powered tools automate tasks like summarization, proofreading, and language translation, enabling professionals to generate high-quality content more efficiently. This saves time and enhances productivity in content-driven roles.
  • Virtual assistants, integrated with AI chatbots, provide instant and accurate responses to customer inquiries, reducing response times and improving customer satisfaction. This enables customer service teams to handle a larger volume of inquiries efficiently.


How to decide which AI productivity tools to select

 The first step in selecting AI productivity tools is to understand your specific needs and goals. Take the time to identify areas where AI tools can make a significant impact, addressing pain points and inefficiencies. By pinpointing these areas, you can focus on finding tools that align with your objectives and drive productivity gains.

Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment: In corporate setting performing a thorough needs assessment is crucial to ensure that the selected AI tools meet the diverse requirements of your organization. Engage stakeholders across different departments to gather their perspectives and insights. This assessment will help you identify the specific functionalities and features that are essential for your organization’s success.

Consider Integration and Compatibility: When evaluating AI productivity tools, consider their compatibility and integration capabilities with your existing systems and infrastructure. Seamless integration reduces implementation challenges and promotes efficiency. Assess whether the tools can integrate with your current software stack, databases, communication platforms, and other relevant systems.

Evaluate User Experience and Ease of Adoption:A positive user experience and ease of adoption are key factors in maximizing the benefits of AI productivity tools. demos or trial versions will allow your you to experience the tools firsthand. Look for user-friendly interfaces and intuitive workflows that facilitate smooth adoption. Additionally, evaluate the training and support options provided  to ensure effective onboarding.

Evaluate Data Security and Privacy Measures:Data security and privacy are paramount when integrating AI tools into your organization or work life ,  Ensure that tools have robust measures in place to protect data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Evaluate their data storage practices, encryption protocols, compliance with regulations, and adherence to best practices for data protection.

Seek Proof of Performance and ROI:To validate the claims made by AI productivity tools, review case studies, testimonials, or references. Look for evidence of successful implementations and tangible productivity improvements achieved by other organizations. Use this information to assess the potential impact of the tools on you or  your organization’s productivity and calculate the return on investment.

Pilot Testing and Proof of Concept: Consider conducting pilot tests or proof-of-concept projects with shortlisted AI productivity tools. Select a representative use case or department to evaluate the tools’ effectiveness in real-world scenarios. This hands-on experience allows you to identify any implementation challenges, validate expected benefits and make informed decisions based on concrete evidence.

Practical Skills Development Needed for Efficient AI Tools Use

In this section I discuss the practical non-technical skills organizations and individuals need to enable and increase of productivity using AI tools a.k.a what training plans should HR Managers put in place.

Effective Concise and Clear Communication:

AI productivity tools rely on clear and concise instructions to perform tasks accurately. Active listening and effective communication skills are paramount when working with virtual assistants. By articulating tasks clearly and actively engaging with the virtual assistant, professionals ensure seamless collaboration and minimize misunderstandings. This results in enhanced productivity as tasks are executed efficiently, leaving professionals with more time to focus on strategic and value-added activities.

The trick to effective and clear instructions to the AI productivity tools is to be :

  1. Be Specific and Concise: When instructing an AI productivity tool, provide clear and specific instructions. Avoid vague or ambiguous language that may lead to misunderstandings. Be concise and to the point, focusing on the essential details necessary for the task at hand.
  2. Use Action-Oriented Language: Frame your instructions using action-oriented language to convey the desired outcome. Use verbs that clearly indicate the action you want the virtual assistant to perform. For example, instead of saying, “Can you check this document?” you can say, “Please review this document and provide feedback by tomorrow.”
  3. Provide Context: Contextual information can help the tool better understand the task and its purpose. Include relevant background details or specify any specific requirements or preferences. This helps the virtual assistant deliver more accurate results aligned with your expectations.
  4. Ask for Clarification: If you’re unsure whether the AI productivity tool has fully understood your instructions, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to ensure mutual understanding before proceeding. Virtual assistants often have built-in mechanisms to seek clarification if they encounter ambiguous instructions, so take advantage of those features.
  5. Utilize Examples and Visual Aids: Sometimes, providing examples or visual aids can clarify your instructions further. For complex tasks, consider sharing relevant samples, templates, or screenshots to illustrate your expectations. This visual support can enhance understanding and minimize potential errors.
  6. 6. Avoid Jargon and Complex Language: While you may be familiar with industry-specific jargon, remember that virtual assistants may not have the same level of domain knowledge. Opt for clear and simple language that is easily understandable. Avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, or technical terms that may cause confusion.


Critical Thinking Skills

Building critical thinking skills is essential to maximize efficiency with AI Productivity tools . Here are some strategies to develop your critical thinking abilities in the context of these technologies:

  1. Understand the Limitations of AI: Recognize that these systems have limitations. They excel at specific tasks but may struggle with complex or ambiguous instructions. Understanding these limitations will help you approach their capabilities more realistically and make informed decisions about when and how to utilize them effectively.
  2. Analyze and Evaluate Outputs: Assess the accuracy, relevance, and reliability of the information provided from the outputs of these tools. Look for any potential biases, errors, or gaps in understanding. By exercising critical thinking, you can validate the outputs and make more informed decisions based on the information at hand.
  3. Compare and Cross-Reference Information: compare and cross-reference the outputs of AI tools with other reliable sources. Verify the information provided against trusted references, internal knowledge, or additional data points. By triangulating information from multiple sources, you can ensure greater accuracy and make more informed decisions. [ The BBC reports that A judge said the court was faced with an “unprecedented circumstance” after a filing was found to reference example legal cases that did not exist. The lawyer who used the tool told the court he was “unaware that its content could be false”. ]
  4. Seek Clarification and Ask Probing Questions: If the outputs are unclear or insufficient, practice asking probing questions to seek further clarification. Develop the skill of asking relevant and targeted questions to elicit more detailed or specific information. This process helps you refine your understanding and overcome any limitations or ambiguities in the system’s outputs.
  5. Embrace Skepticism and Critical Inquiry: Adopt a skeptical mindset and approach when working with AI-powered tools. Avoid blindly accepting outputs at face value. Instead, question assumptions, challenge conclusions, and dig deeper into the underlying reasoning. This critical inquiry will enable you to identify potential errors, biases, or gaps in logic, fostering a more robust decision-making process.
  6. Reflect on Decision-Making Processes: Periodically reflect on your decision-making processes when using AI productivity tools. Assess the effectiveness of your critical thinking skills in evaluating outputs and making informed choices. Identify areas for improvement and refine your approach based on lessons learned from past experiences.


Engage in Continuous Learning:

Stay updated with the latest advancements in AI, virtual assistants, and NLP by engaging in continuous learning. Read research papers, attend webinars, participate in online courses, or join relevant communities to expand your knowledge. Developing a deep understanding of AI and its applications will enhance your critical thinking skills in utilizing these technologies effectively.


Practice Scenario-based Analysis:

Engage in scenario-based analysis to develop your critical thinking skills. Create hypothetical situations where you utilize AI productivity tools to solve complex problems. Analyze the inputs, evaluate the outputs, and assess the feasibility and reliability of the proposed solutions. This practice enables you to apply critical thinking in a controlled environment and refine your skills.

By actively developing and honing your critical thinking abilities, you can leverage AI-powered tools  systems more efficiently. Critical thinking empowers you to evaluate outputs, identify limitations and biases, make informed decisions, and maximize the benefits of these technologies in your work.


Active Listening 

AI productivity tools have advanced but there are examples of wrong output in correct data. I asked an AI tool to rewrite my CV and includes jobs in two companies, I had never worked for , so it is important to  practice active listening when receiving responses or updates from virtual assistants, actively listen and review their outputs. This helps you identify any gaps or areas of miscommunication. By being attentive, you can provide necessary clarifications or corrections promptly, ensuring efficient task execution.


Embrace Feedback and Iteration

AI productivity tools learn from interactions and improve over time. If you notice any recurring issues or misinterpretations, provide constructive feedback. This feedback loop helps refine their understanding and enhances their ability to execute tasks accurately.


Stay Updated with Advancements:

AI technology is rapidly evolving. Stay informed about the latest advancements, updates, and improvements in the field. this knowledge will enable you to leverage the full potential of AI-powered tools and refine your communication skills accordingly.

Understanding the capabilities of your AI productivity tools enables you to harness its full potential and communicate effectively.


Just Start and Learn from experience

 The more you interact with AI productivity tools, the better you become at articulating tasks and communicating clearly. Pay attention to the feedback received, reflect on past interactions, and adapt your communication style accordingly. Learning from experience will refine your ability to collaborate seamlessly with the tools.