20th-century management consultant Joseph Juran applied the Pareto principle, originally developed as an economic theory, to argue that 80% of work can be done with 20% of time and effort. Today, this application of the principle, colloquially referred to as the 80/20 rule, is a staple in every consultant’s vocabulary.
At Penta, new hires are taught the value of the 80/20 rule. As a consultant, time is precious. With deadlines to meet and urgent requests that inevitably pop up, working efficiently is key to delivering for various clients across industries on a myriad of complex and evolving business and policy issues.
Last month, Penta welcomed a class of new strategy associates and summer interns. As we present Penta’s take on the Pareto principle, our approach to learning, giving, and receiving feedback, and enhancing one’s efficiency, we were naturally curious to see how tools like ChatGPT could be used to explain and elevate the Pareto Principle.
So, in the spirit of time efficiency, we asked ChatGPT how it can help. Here’s what it produced, and how it squares with Penta’s perspective on the role generative AI tools can, and should, play in communications consulting.
Penta’s prompt: Give me a 500 word answer in the tone of a Harvard Business Review article about how generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, can help communications consultants push their work up the 80/20 curve (Pareto Principle), especially early-career associates. Use a temperature of .4.
Penta’s perspective: Anyone experimenting with AI tools needs to learn how to instruct the AI to give you the result you want. As seen above, we include several details in our prompt in terms of length, tone, seriousness vs. creativity (temperature), and the intended audience.
ChatGPT: Automating routine tasks
Generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, can empower early-career associates in the communications consulting field by automating routine tasks that consume valuable time and effort. These tools excel at generating well-crafted written content, polishing draft messages, and even conducting preliminary research. By offloading these mundane responsibilities to AI, associates can allocate their time to more strategic endeavors, such as crafting innovative communication strategies, engaging in client relationship-building, or conducting in-depth analyses.
Penta’s perspective: The Penta team views generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, as a starting point for research and content development. Our cohort of associates and managers are instructed never to rely on these tools to completely automate day-to-day tasks, as ChatGPT suggests above. Instead, ChatGPT can be reliably harnessed for preliminary research and brainstorming ideas, particularly for low-stakes tasks such as social content drafts. Other tools such as Otter.ai can be helpful for supplementing a new associate’s note-taking tasks. ChatGPT should be a collaborator, not a crutch.
ChatGPT: Enhancing creativity and innovation
By leveraging generative AI tools, communications consultants can unleash their creative potential. These tools act as collaborative partners, assisting associates in brainstorming new ideas, refining pitches, and even generating fresh perspectives on complex problems. Through iterative collaboration, AI-enabled platforms foster a feedback loop, enabling early-career consultants to expand their creative horizons and hone their communication skills. With AI as a catalyst, associates can focus on ideation, critical thinking, and developing innovative solutions for their clients, thereby accelerating their professional growth.
Penta’s perspective: We agree! Penta’s teams are responsible for researching, understanding, and providing insight on varying policy topics. While our teams at Penta spend a lot of time internally brainstorming, ideating, and discussing strategy, new associates can better prepare themselves to contribute to those discussions through their own research and using AI tools to help them refine and expand their initial ideas.
ChatGPT: On-Demand expertise and knowledge
One of the most powerful advantages of generative AI tools is their ability to provide on-demand expertise and knowledge. Early-career associates can tap into a vast repository of industry-specific insights and best practices, seamlessly accessible through AI-powered platforms. By leveraging these tools, communications consultants can swiftly access relevant case studies, expert advice, and up-to-date industry trends. Such knowledge augmentation empowers associates to deliver impactful recommendations and client-centric solutions, bolstering their reputation as trusted advisors and shortening their learning curve.
Penta’s Perspective: Yes and no on this one. While ChatGPT and similar tools can be helpful resources to answer specific questions, it must be verified by primary sources. As Penta’s new associates get up to speed on their clients and their issue areas, their managers will provide them with a rich repository of information to access. As an associate reviews this material and has questions, ChatGPT may be one of several sources they can use to seek answers, but ultimately, the experienced members of the team are the best resource.
ChatGPT: Accelerated learning and mentorship
Generative AI tools can serve as virtual mentors, augmenting the learning experience of early-career associates. By analyzing vast amounts of data and user interactions, AI platforms can provide personalized feedback, highlighting areas for improvement and suggesting strategies for growth. This virtual mentorship enables rapid skill development, transforming the associates into more effective communicators. Furthermore, AI tools can simulate real-world scenarios, enabling associates to practice their communication skills in a risk-free environment. The combination of virtual mentorship and simulated experiences fosters accelerated learning, propelling early-career associates further up the 80/20 curve.
Penta’s Perspective: As of now, Penta doesn’t recommend the use of generative AI tools for mentorship. While it may be helpful to some, we do not believe it replaces or even provides much of a complement to human feedback and coaching. Each new associate is assigned to a more tenured mentor to offer guidance during their first few years at the firm. Furthermore, due to the sensitive nature of our work, we do not allow these tools access to client information. Therefore, any feedback beyond basic grammar or writing tips would be superficial advice at best.
Generative AI tools offer unprecedented opportunities for communications consultants, especially early-career associates, to optimize their productivity and effectiveness. By automating routine tasks, enhancing creativity and innovation, providing on-demand expertise, and facilitating accelerated learning, AI tools empower these professionals to focus their efforts on high-value activities. This paradigm shift allows them to swiftly ascend the 80/20 curve, mastering their craft and delivering superior outcomes to their clients. As the communications consulting landscape continues to evolve, embracing AI as a strategic partner is no longer a luxury but a necessity for those seeking to excel in their careers.
Penta’s Conclusion: Generative AI tools can be a valuable resource to new associates and employees as they seek a collaborator for routine tasks and a jumping off point for researching, brainstorming, and ideating new project ideas. But effectively utilizing this tool and reaching the 80/20 curve is not possible without significant user investment and support from peers, managers, and mentors. For now, and likely the foreseeable future, Penta introduces tools like ChatGPT as one of many resources, but caution overreliance on any specific tool or resource.