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The Imperative of Hands-On Experience with Gen AI for Executives

AI for Executives

In an age where Generative AI (GenAI) like ChatGPT is not just an auxiliary tool but a cornerstone of innovation and efficiency, the call for executives to gain firsthand experience with these technologies has never been more pressing. The ability to craft effective prompts—a skill critical to leveraging GenAI's full potential—demands more than just theoretical knowledge; it requires hands-on experience and a nuanced understanding of how these systems think and respond. Here, we delve deeper into strategies for executives, emphasizing the importance of direct engagement with GenAI and providing practical examples to guide this journey.

Why Hands-On Experience Matters

Demystify GenAI Through Direct Interaction

There’s no substitute for direct experience. Engaging with GenAI platforms like ChatGPT allows executives to demystify the technology, transforming it from an abstract concept into a tangible tool at their fingertips. By experimenting with prompt crafting, leaders can see firsthand how subtle changes in wording or specificity can dramatically alter the AI's output, gaining insights that are critical for effective use in strategic applications.

Foster Intuitive Understanding of GenAI Capabilities and Limits

Firsthand experience with GenAI helps executives develop an intuitive grasp of its capabilities and limitations. This intuition is invaluable when strategizing on how to integrate AI into business processes or when making decisions about which tasks to automate and which to keep human centered. For example, by personally testing GenAI’s responses to different types of prompts, leaders can better understand how to deploy it for tasks ranging from drafting communication materials to conducting market research.

Enhance Prompt Crafting Skills Through Practice

Practice leads to proficiency. Regularly interacting with GenAI encourages executives to refine their prompt-crafting skills, learning how to elicit the most accurate, relevant, and insightful responses. Consider setting a personal challenge to use GenAI for a variety of tasks—such as summarizing a report, brainstorming marketing slogans, or analyzing industry trends—to see how tweaking your prompts affects the outcomes.

Lead by Example in Ethical AI Use and Compliance

Hands-on engagement with GenAI also positions executives to lead by example in ethical AI use and compliance. By personally navigating the complexities of crafting prompts that align with ethical guidelines and regulatory standards, leaders can set a precedent for responsible AI use within their organizations. This proactive approach not only mitigates risks but also fosters a culture of ethical technology use.

Drive Innovation and Adaptability in Your Team

An executive who is adept at interacting with GenAI can inspire their team to explore innovative uses of the technology, fostering a culture of adaptability and continuous learning. Your firsthand experience can demystify AI for your team, encouraging them to experiment with GenAI in their work and to think creatively about new applications.

Implementing Hands-On Strategies: A Closer Look

  • Begin with Curiosity: Approach GenAI with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. Start with simple prompts to get a feel for the AI’s conversational style and capabilities.

  •  Experiment with Diverse Applications: Use GenAI for a range of tasks, from generating content to extracting insights from data. Each application will offer new learning opportunities and insights into prompt effectiveness.

  • Reflect on Outcomes: After each interaction, take a moment to reflect on the AI's response. Was it what you expected? How could the prompt be improved? This reflection is key to developing your prompt-crafting skills.

  • Share Your Learnings: Encourage a culture of sharing insights and strategies for effective GenAI use within your organization. This can be through workshops, meetings, or informal discussions.

  • Stay Informed and Adapt: As GenAI technologies evolve, stay informed about the latest developments and think about how these could be incorporated into your strategic use of the technology.


For executives, the journey into GenAI is not just about leveraging a new technology; it's about leading in a world where AI is an integral part of the strategic landscape. Hands-on experience with GenAI is indispensable, providing leaders with the insights, skills, and confidence to harness these tools effectively. By engaging directly with GenAI, experimenting, and learning from these interactions, executives can not only enhance their leadership capabilities but also drive their organizations forward in innovative and ethically responsible ways.

When I'm working with Executive Teams, we find a simple but meaningful homework assignment is to research a Salse Prospect, or a Partner, looking for deeper insight on strategic and opportunity alignment. 

Here is the example prompt:

>> We are pitching to Company X ( next week on a Strategic Deal worth $10 M. Research the strategic outlook for Company X and provide a list of aligned interests to our company ( Highlight alignment through public announcements and the annual reports of both companies. Outline a step-by-step plan to explore the aligned interests.

If you haven't already, jump onto ChatGPT and give it a go today.

W. Edwards Deming: “If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”

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