Don't build a dam and wait for a river

In the face of a sudden shift like AI, it's natural to feel compelled to take action.

The tricky thing is figuring out what that thing is.

Humans excel at pattern recognition, but there aren't many patterns to observe yet – everyone is watching this unfold live.

This makes for a frothy environment. A common mistake is to launch a flashy initiative just for the sake of doing something. This approach rarely succeeds. (It's like building a dam and waiting for a river)


  1. First order effects are not always the most interesting. The history of platform shifts (electricity, internet, mobile) reveals that the second-order shifts return the greatest results. Google was the 15th search engine.
  2. Your context is unique, and context is where value is created. It's not one-size fits all. What works in one spot may not work in another.

Instead of focusing on one big thing, split it up into bite sized chunks. For many company's, the most significant impacts will spring out of existing workflows that get supercharged.

How can you identify the right ideas? Improve your team's fundamental understanding of how these tools function. Promote experimentation. Distribute pattern recognition across the company. Play with new concepts.

Over time, the substantial opportunities will gradually become clear.

And when you spot the river, act fast to build the dam.