Generative AI and Creative Problem Solving

76 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2023 Last revised: 29 Mar 2024

See all articles by Leonard Boussioux

Leonard Boussioux

University of Washington - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Operations Research Center

Jacqueline N. Lane

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Unit

Miaomiao Zhang

Harvard Business School

Vladimir Jacimovic

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: March 2024

Abstract

The rapid advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI) open up attractive opportunities for creative
problem-solving through human-guided AI partnerships. To explore this potential, we initiated a
crowdsourcing challenge focused on sustainable, circular economy business ideas and assessed the novelty,
value, and creativity of solutions created by both the human crowd and the collaborative efforts of one
human and AI. The challenge attracted 125 global solvers from various industries and the human-prompted
AI solutions were generated using strategic prompt engineering. We recruited 300 evaluators to judge a
randomized selection of 13 out of 234 solutions, totaling 3,900 evaluator–solution pairs. Our findings
demonstrate that the solutions generated through human-AI collaboration matched the creativity of those
from the human solvers. Whereas the human-AI solutions provided more value, the human-only solutions
were more innovative—both on average and for highly novel outcomes. Our study explores the potential
for incorporating “AI-in-the-loop” into creative problem-solving, offering a scalable and cost-efficient
method for enhancing the early phases of innovation. Our research paves the way for future exploration of
how AI can be integrated into creative processes to foster more effective innovation.

Keywords: Generative AI, ChatGPT, LLMs, innovation, crowdsourcing, idea generation, evaluation, novelty, value

Suggested Citation

Boussioux, Leonard and N. Lane, Jacqueline and Zhang, Miaomiao and Jacimovic, Vladimir and Lakhani, Karim R., Generative AI and Creative Problem Solving (March 2024). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 24-005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4533642 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4533642

Leonard Boussioux

University of Washington - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.leobix.us

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Operations Research Center ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Bldg. E 40-149
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Jacqueline N. Lane (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

Miaomiao Zhang

Harvard Business School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Vladimir Jacimovic

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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