What To Do About ChatGPT for Planning Business Strategy

Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

So, in one sense, ChatGPT is a plagiarist on steroids.

But we are, as humans, all plagiarists in another sense. As we grow and people fill our heads with ideas (Locke’s blackboard), we eventually think that these ideas are our own.

Someone once said, for example, there’s nothing new under the sun. If you Google the sentence, I’m sure Google will report back to you who said it.[1] And if you ask ChatGPT who said it, the Chat will respond appropriately.[2]

If you say it in passing, does that constitute plagiarism, or do you depend on the person who hears it to know they heard it before? Or, do you footnote it or as I just did, or reference generically that “someone” said it? If you never heard it before, and someone says it without referencing it, you might think you are hearing it for the first time when you hear it and attribute it to whoever you heard it from.

Until someone corrects you, that is. And then you might have a fight on your hands.

How important is it to know truth? Does it really matter who said what, when, and why?

We Can’t Handle the Truth

Recently, I asked ChatGPT this question: why should you NOT collaborate with ChatGPT? I did this because of a WSJ article I read, A Guide to Collaborating With ChatGPT for Work, by Alexandra Samuel, April 11, 2023. Dr. Samuel is a technology researcher and co-author of “Remote, Inc.: How to Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are.”

It was interesting, as the doctor concluded: “To recognize the stages of work where your AI colleagues can be helpful, you also need to know when it is time for you to take over, or pass the baton to a human colleague.”

The answer from ChatGPT to my question was this:

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal goals or motivations. However, there are some limitations to consider when collaborating with me for work:

  1. Limited understanding of the business context: While I have access to a vast amount of information, I don’t have a deep understanding of the specific business context or industry jargon that may be relevant to your work.
  2. Lack of creativity: Although I can generate responses to your questions, I don’t have the same level of creativity and critical thinking skills as a human. I can only provide information based on what I have been trained on.
  3. Potential errors or biases: While I strive to be as accurate and unbiased as possible, I’m not immune to making errors or reflecting on the biases present in the data I’ve been trained on.
  4. Limited ability to take action: I can provide information and insights, but I can’t take action or make decisions on behalf of a company or team.

In summary, while I can be a useful tool for gathering information, it’s important to recognize my limitations and use me as a complement to human expertise rather than a replacement.

Humans seem to resist showing negatives about themselves. Perhaps that’s why AI will eventually be superior to us?

Is it live or is it Memorex?

Is it live or is it Memorex” was a 1974 ad campaign for cassette recording tapes from Memorex.
The commercial asked the question: Could you tell if the sound was genuine, authentic and real from the artist, or was it a recorded copy?

We can ask the same question of any copy now because of AI. Is it human or is it ChatGPT? The internet is a big tape recorder. Let’s discuss this further and examine what the Chat told us.

First, note the Chat uses pronouns in the answer (“I,” “me,”) A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, which is a person, place or thing. In this case, ChatGPT is a thing, so OK. Historically, we haven’t heard “things” talk, so the pronouns presented we immediately associate with humans. Maybe that’s our first mistake with this thing.

But Chat spelled out its limitations which, in turn, tells us exactly how to use the thing itself.

  1. Limited Understanding. The Chat can only regurgitate what exists. Yet, since there is “nothing new under the sun,” having limited understanding isn’t a negative. Lots of people have that.

Human knowledge comes from making comparisons, extending simple ideas into more complex ones. The Chat, therefore, seems to be a piece of research into doing that – one of many pieces that can be used to develop a business strategy.

So, ask away, but don’t rely on just a single source like Chat for your strategy development. I’m afraid you’ll still have to think for yourself. I’m reminded of Jim Mattis in his book, Call Sign Chaos, one of the must-reads if you are doing business strategy. He said, “Strategy is hard, unless you’re a dilettante. You must think until your head hurts.” Chat makes it look easy. It’s never easy.

  1. Lack of Creativity. Chat’s response – that it can only provide information it’s been “trained on” – is true of everyone. Schopenhauer’s Essay on Freedom gives us the second argument that you can’t think about things you don’t know about, so you are not free mentally to think about anything you want. You can only think about what you know. ChatGPT can only regurgitate what it knows from the storehouse of Internet information.

Creativity is often defined as the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. But we have already established there is nothing new under the sun. So what is “creativity?”

ChatGPT says: “Creativity refers to the ability to generate novel and valuable ideas or products that are original, useful, and appropriate in a given context. It involves combining existing knowledge, skills, and experiences in new and innovative ways to solve problems, meet challenges, and explore possibilities. Creativity can be expressed in many different forms, including art, music, literature, science, technology, business, and everyday life. It often involves taking risks, thinking outside the box, and challenging conventional wisdom. Creativity is a key driver of innovation and progress in all fields and is highly valued in today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world.”

That’s a mouthful, and probably explains why the Chat lacks it.

Take pointillism. This painting technique developed by Georges Seurat was comprised of tiny dots of various colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye. How did Seurat “create” this technique? What spurred him in that direction? Would the Chat, if it weren’t created yet, be able to do that?

Creativity is really using things in different ways. Or figuring out a way to solve a problem that no one else is able to solve. The Chat says it lacks creativity, probably for good reason.

  1. Potential errors or biases. The word “potential” is modifying “errors or biases” and isn’t necessary because there will always be errors and bias. If Chat is a regurgitation – and it is – inevitably it will reflect what was an error or bias in the original information it is regurgitating.[3]

For example, does the earth go around the sun, or the sun around the earth? Today, most people believe they know the answer to this, as does ChatGPT.[4] But, if you lived before Copernicus figured it out, you would have been burned at the stake for saying the earth goes around the sun. Besides, since you don’t feel motion standing on the Earth; it does look like the sun is moving across the sky. Maybe the sun does go around us?

Our senses can be deceiving. And therein lies the main problem of information. To erase all bias is probably impossible, but unless we do our best to do just that, we really don’t know if what we believe is true or not. Information uses words, which are based on conceptions in our minds. Not all conceptions are identical.[5]

In Catholic faith, the story of doubting Thomas comes to mind. Thomas was, you will recall, one of the apostles who wouldn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead until he put his hand in his wounds. The story tells us he did that, and then believed.

All of us do not have the luxury of using our senses to believe or not. Therefore, we have to have faith in the information or as they teach in literature, the narrator of the story.

There is a whole study on the reliability of narrators in the first and third person narratives in which stories are told. First person narrators are in the story talking to us; if they lose their reliability, you can never believe them again. Third-person narrators are outside the story, often called omniscient narrators (God like). You have to believe what they are saying, or the story will never make sense, and they are always reliable.

In life, there are no third-person narrators. We’re all in the story, and therefore, protecting our reliability is the all-important goal. Because once you lose it, you can’t get it back.

If ChatGPT is inside the story, the Chat, too, is subject to the same narrative rules. And since it gathers information from sources who may or may not be reliable, well, you can see why Elon Musk thinks AI will destroy the world.

  1. Limited ability to take an action. The whole purpose of thinking is to take action as a result of the thinking. Action without thought is usually senseless or reactive, and often dangerous. But on the contrary, thinking too long on something and not acting swiftly enough is dangerous, too, and deciding NOT to act after thinking is, in a sense, “taking an action.”

The thing is, you really can’t do both (thinking and acting) at the same time. If you are thinking, you are not doing, and if you’re doing, you’re doing, you’re not thinking.

But, can’t I think while driving? Of course, but then you will endanger your life and others if you don’t focus on the driving.

What about solving a problem? Of course, but if you start doing something while solving the problem, you would be distracted. Muti-tasking is really just a myth.

The Chat can’t tell you what to do. No one can, except for you. And if you do what you are told (obey), it is because you believe what you are being told or have been taught to follow orders.

It’s complex. The danger of AI is if it starts telling us what to do, and we do it without thinking. It is the same danger of feeding us information and we do it without thinking. At least for now, Chat admits it has “limited ability” to take an action. Or tell us what the action might be.


With all this said, what do you do about ChatGPT for planning your business strategy?

You can start by asking the Chat what is a good business strategy? To which Chat answers: A good business strategy is one that aligns with the overall goals and objectives of the organization and allows it to achieve long-term success.

The Chat then offers up six “elements” that make up such a strategy, including:

  1. Clear Goals and Objectives
  2. Target Market
  3. Unique Value Proposition
  4. Marketing and Sales
  5. Financial Planning
  6. Continuous Improvement

Classic responses, and safe responses, but we refined the question: how would you go about creating a good business strategy. Chat gave us 8 things:

  1. Define the Organization’s Vision and Mission
  2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
  3. Set Clear Goals and Objectives
  4. Identify the Target Market
  5. Develop a Unique Value Proposition
  6. Develop a Marketing and Sales Plan
  7. Develop a Financial Plan
  8. Monitor and Adjust

For the third step, we asked Chat: how would you create a good business strategy for a distributor?

  1. Analyze the Industry
  2. Identify Target Markets
  3. Develop a Unique Value Proposition
  4. Develop a Marketing Plan
  5. Develop a Sales Plan
  6. Optimize the Distribution Process
  7. Monitor and Adjust

Finally, we asked the Chat:  how would you create a business strategy for an electrical distributor?

  1. Analyze the Electrical Industry
  2. Identify Target Markets
  3. Develop a Unique Value Proposition
  4. Develop a Marketing Plan
  5. Develop a Sales Plan
  6. Optimize the Distribution Process
  7. Develop a Technical Support Plan
  8. Monitor and Adjust

This result in the following table:

  “elements” that make up such a good strategy Create a good business strategy Good business strategy for distributor Good business strategy for electrical distributor
Analyze the Industry x x
Define the Organization’s Vision and Mission x
Conduct a SWOT Analysis x
Clear Goals and Objectives x x
Identify Target Market x x x x
Develop a Unique Value Proposition x x x x
Develop a Marketing and Sales x x x x
Develop a Financial Planning x x
Continuous Improvement x
Monitor and Adjust x x x
Optimize the Distribution Process x x
Develop a Technical Support Plan x


The answers are very similar. Some of the outstanding questions are why are some boxes checked and others not? Financial planning would seem to be true across the board. Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) should be across the board.

We asked Chat about whether to follow a blue or red ocean strategy, which is predicated on having read the book[6]. The Chat said:

The decision to use a blue ocean or red ocean strategy for your business depends on several factors, including your goals, market conditions, and competitive landscape.

It then went on to define what a red ocean is and a blue ocean, including “Ultimately, the decision to use a blue ocean or red ocean strategy depends on your specific circumstances. You may also consider a hybrid approach that combines elements of both strategies. It is important to conduct a thorough analysis of your market, competition, and customer needs before deciding on a strategy that aligns with your business goals.”


Actually, the Chat states the obvious: that each circumstance is unique, and there is no one right answer. In other words, “think until your head hurts.”

The creation of a business strategy should be performed with all the grid steps outlined by Chat, but also, with turning the why you shouldn’t collaborate with the Chat into why you should, that is, turning those “nots” into a human point of view that only humans can deliver.

  1. Unlimited understanding of the business context. Continued development due to changing circumstances. Nothing is static. Questions like how can your strategy be adapted to these changing circumstances? If everyone is going one way, should you go the other (road less traveled). The deeper your understanding, the more Chat responses seem superficial, and they are (for now at least).
  2. Creativity. Erasing all of your preconceived notions and letting your creativity flow can turn your strategy into a winning proposition. Think of Uber, or Harry’s Shave Club (who challenged and continues to challenge Gilette) or any of the other successful businesses springing up seemingly overnight. The common thread is that they each took a “creative leap” on a concept that made them different. They answered hard questions. Like what is something that no one else in our space is doing? And how will companies in our space sell in the future?
  3. Learning from errors or biases. They will always be present but understanding them and using them to your advantage is the key – along with understanding your customers. Giving customers what they want assures success. If you don’t, someone else will. The most recent Bud Light marketing disaster is a case in point: Bud forgot who drinks their beer. Errors in judgment will continue, but the point is to learn from them. Focus on the customer and things seem to take care of themselves.
  4. Unlimited ability to take action. Years ago, I used to find myself in a lot of new product introduction meetings for our main client. Whenever this happened, the president would ask for a microwebsite. His IT department would claim, “server programming” would be required. My company created the website. Three years later, in doing an inventory of these new product introductions, they discovered we owned 68 websites with their product names on them. They asked for them, and, of course, we turned ownership over to them. But we ran those websites for five more years before they were incorporated into the main website. The point is, you can’t be limited in the actions you need to take. Anticipate, react and adapt remains the only viable business strategy. That strategy was Alexander the Great’s. And he didn’t need a computer or AI to conquer the world.


[1] Google goes right to the Bible, Ecclesiastes: {1:9} The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun. You’d be hard pressed to find someone else claiming to have said that. Should I have referenced Ecclesiastes? The phrase just came up in my mind, so I wrote, “Someone said…” Do I believe Google?

[2]  I asked Chat: Who said “There’s nothing new under the sun”? Chat responded: The phrase “there’s nothing new under the sun” comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon around 935 BCE. The full verse is: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Two references so it must be true.

[3] In a recent interview with Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk said that bias is being built into AI already, and he should know: he invented it.

[4] The Chat answered the question this way: “The Earth goes around the Sun, not the other way around. This is known as the heliocentric model of the solar system, which was first proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century and later confirmed by observations made by Galileo Galilei and others. In this model, the Sun is at the center of the solar system, and the planets, including Earth, orbit around it. This understanding of the solar system is widely accepted by the scientific community and is supported by a vast amount of evidence, including observations of the motions of the planets, the phases of Venus, and the behavior of comets.”

[5]  If we do not have a common ground about what we are talking about, communication is impossible. Take Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland. Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. “That seems to be done right —” he began. “You’re holding it upside down!” Alice interrupted. “To be sure I was!” Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. “I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —” “Certainly,” said Alice. “And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!” “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’” ‘“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master? — that’s all.” So, if we follow Humpty’s philosophy and make words mean what we want them to mean, then I could define Robert Redford as one of the people who used to work here and I would be like Humpty – guilty of bending facts to suit my need. But the point is that unless we agree on definition of terms (thank you Aristotle), then communication is impossible.

[6] W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY, Harvard Business School Press, 2005.

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