Which Type of “I” Are You?

Chad C. Harvey
4 min readMay 8, 2024

--

The history of every “rush” is replete with tales of boldness, bounty, and bald-faced chicanery. There’s something about the opportunity of ushering tomorrow in today that brings out the best and worst in humanity. We’re witnessing this pattern play out again right now with the gold rush that is generative AI.

Innovators, Investors, and Imposters are all competing for your attention — and it’s often tough to determine fact from folly (or fraud). This discernment is further complicated by the exponential growth of these technologies. Their rapidly increasing capabilities call into question the tried-and-true maxim, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it is.”

Innovators are the pioneers. They are the creators and builders who leverage AI to push boundaries and open new possibilities. These individuals and organizations are genuinely interested in harnessing the power of AI to solve real problems and advance the field. They innovate not just for profit but to make a significant impact.

Investors come in two flavors: Early Adopters and Financiers. Early Adopters are motivated by the potential gains AI might bring to their organizations. Their investment is different from that of a Financier in that they deploy their resources internally. Financiers, however, fit the more traditional profile of a backer and are driven by the promise of financial returns. While either Investor type may not be directly involved in the creation of AI technologies, their investment in the tech fuels the industry.

Imposters are the opportunists of the AI rush. They capitalize on the hype and confusion around AI technologies to offer overpromised solutions or downright fraudulent services. These are the entities or individuals whose claims about AI capabilities sound too good to be true — because they often are.

So what’s a decision-maker to do? To navigate this complex landscape, leaders need practical tools. The following “Toolkit for Leaders” provides actionable insights to assess and engage with each type of “I,” ensuring informed and strategic decisions.

Toolkit for Leaders: Assessing and Engaging Different Types of “I”

1. Identification Checklist

Here is a quick checklist for each type of “I.” It enables a leader to quickly assess which category a person or entity might belong to based on observable characteristics and behaviors.

Innovators

  • Are they introducing unique solutions or substantial improvements to existing technology?
  • Do they focus on long-term impacts and sustainability?
  • Is there evidence of genuine collaboration with other industry players?
  • Are they more concerned with solving problems than making immediate profits?

Investors

  • Do they have a clear investment thesis that aligns with their strategic goals or financial returns?
  • Are they actively seeking knowledge about the technology they invest in?
  • How do they measure the success of their investments (ROI, societal impact, innovation advancement)?
  • Early Adopters: Are they integrating AI to enhance their core operations?
  • Financiers: Are they diversifying their investments across multiple AI ventures?

Imposters

  • Do their claims lack verifiable evidence or seem exaggerated?
  • Are they reluctant to provide detailed information about their operations or technology?
  • Do they focus predominantly on short-term gains?
  • Is there a history of frequently switching fields or expertise without depth in any?

2. Communication Strategies

Tailoring communication to effectively engage each type of “I” will enhance cooperation and reduce misunderstandings. Here are a few points to focus on.

Innovators

  • Focus discussions on potential impacts and long-term visions.
  • Be open to exploring creative and unconventional ideas.
  • Show genuine interest in understanding the technology or solutions they are developing.

Investors

  • Align discussions with their investment goals — whether operational enhancement for Early Adopters or financial returns for Financiers.
  • Provide clear data and metrics that demonstrate the potential value of an investment.
  • Discuss the broader impact of their investment, including industry trends and potential for scale.

Imposters

  • Ask detailed, probing questions to assess the validity of their claims.
  • Request references, case studies, or demonstrable proof of concept.
  • Be cautious and maintain a polite but skeptical stance until credibility is established.

In the fleeting landscape of AI innovation, discerning between Innovators, Investors, and Imposters is more than strategic — it’s essential. Over the longer term, smoke will clear, platforms will consolidate, and clarity will arise. Yet in the short term, the solution is less about the tech and more about getting to the bottom of one humanity-focused question… Which type of “I” are you? By understanding which “I” you’re dealing with, you safeguard your endeavors and lead with foresight and integrity. Remember, the true measure of any rush isn’t just what you gain but how you engage with the changing tides of technology and humanity.

Originally published at https://chadharvey.com on May 8, 2024.

--

--

Chad C. Harvey

Strategist, Executive Coach, Vistage Chair, servant leader, domiciled itinerant, dispassionately passionate, occasional gourmand. #ChadHarvey