I love jazz but didn’t grow up as a jazz listener. However, as an adult I was heavily influenced by my older brother Frank, who passed away two years ago this week.

Frank vibed jazz more than any other type of music and listened to it with zeal and focus. I noticed that he seldom “multi-tasked” while listening to jazz or any kind of music for that matter. He loved being immersed in the different instrumental and vocal contributions, using his trained ear to detect nuances in the performances and the “spaces in between the notes.” And he had a deep appreciation for musical artists representing the full diversity of human communities and experiences, and how that diversity added so much richness to the music and the listener.


Jazz is a unique and distinctive genre of music characterized by several key features that set it apart from other musical styles. One of those features is its “creative tension” or paradox, characterized by elements such as:

  • Rhythmic contrasts found in personalized performance techniques, usually with some form of improvisation.
  • Seemingly antithetical elements such as composition pairing with improvisation, and “order” engaging unpredictability.
  • The complexity of African rhythms paired with harmonies of European instrumentation.

I’ve always geeked out on considering seemingly disparate topics or characteristics as related parts of a greater whole that’s not always apparent. Correspondingly, I’ve seldom resonated with “either/or,” “good or bad,” “black or white,” etc., types of falsely dualistic thinking.

I find that most ideas, mental models, “isms,” and certainly people are an often paradoxical confluence of many things. The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was echoing this when he famously said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Human collaboration with AI

There’s a lot of unhelpful duality today regarding AI. The conversation often focuses on one extreme or another: how AI is the greatest thing ever and it’s going to change the world for the better, versus how AI spells doom for jobs, society, and civilization as a whole.

In reality, the conversation should focus on how each of can leverage AI’s potential while helping to mitigate its risks.

Just as importantly, it’s important for each of us to become fluent in how AI is transforming our respective professions, deepening our knowledge of this transformation, and finding ways to collaborate with AI. Today!

The combination of human skills and AI skills can create a synergistic effect, leading to outcomes that are better than the sum of their individual parts. Here’s just three examples among many:

1. Humans bring creativity, emotional intelligence, and complex problem-solving abilities, while AI excels in data processing, pattern recognition, and automation. By combining these strengths, organizations can address a broader range of tasks and challenges.

2. AI can process vast amounts of data quickly and provide insights, while humans contribute contextual understanding, intuition, and ethical considerations. Together, they can make more informed and well-rounded decisions.

3. Humans are responsible for setting ethical guidelines and values. Collaborating with AI requires human oversight to ensure that decisions align with ethical standards and societal norms.

The key is to view AI as a tool that complements human capabilities rather than a replacement. When integrated strategically and ethically, the collaboration between human skills and AI skills can lead to more efficient, innovative, and impactful outcomes.

Take action!

Ongoing education and training are crucial to keep humans updated on AI capabilities and to ensure AI systems align with human values and objectives. For example, humans need to not only continue to deepen their understanding of AI but also Web 3.0 and 4.0; the “fourth industrial revolution”; digital transformation; and technological disruption in general.

Furthermore, effective AI collaboration rests upon professionals developing skills such as business acumen; communication skills such as influence, negotiation, networking, relationship building, public speaking, storytelling, and writing; learning agility; program management; and a “suite of thinking skills” that includes critical, design, exponential, innovative, strategic, and systems thinking.

Consider this: Which of the above-named skills do you already want to get better at in your professional work or career? As you focus on further developing that skill, research how people and AI are already collaborating in that skill area (as well as within your professional field or your organization’s industry).

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF and Hogan certified coach, equipping professionals to develop their authentic human leadership capabilities in the age of AI. My customers are internal HR or L&D professionals seeking coaching for their business clients, as well as business leaders looking to connect directly with a coach for themselves or their team members. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.