At What Point Are You No Longer the Author?

Published: March 6, 2024

LinkedIn offered to rewrite my blog post using AI before I pressed the ‘publish’ key. While I declined, I wondered at what stage of the process I would cease to be the author of my own article. Presumably, the AI tool would make it more readable and likely reach more readers. A better blog could be achieved if I was willing to relinquish authorship. Beyond the philosophical debate around AI, it got me thinking about basic creativity and collaboration.

Perhaps it’s always a ‘we’ and never a ‘me.’ You only get to decide who your ‘we’ is. If your ‘we’ is a software program, you lose nearly all of your authorship. If, on the other hand, your ‘we’ is a hand-picked team of people with complementary talents, the ‘I’ is an unquestionably beneficial sacrifice.

Most popular songs are a result of curated collaboration. The best books arise from an author-editor-publisher interaction. These final products rarely reflect the original works born in the brain of the first contributor. They require the brilliance of many to exist in their amazing final form.

Teams don’t always consist of a traditional gathering of collaborators assembled to coordinate a project. Sometimes teams are comprised of invisible and unexpected influencers… the comment your grandfather made when you were 12 years old that finally makes sense at 42… the lyric that your bass player added to the song after a night of heavy partying… the plot twist your editor challenged as “too cliché” before your final rewrite… the suggestion your clinical supervisor offered before you entered a delicate therapy session.

With each contribution, the ‘I’ becomes more of a ‘we.’ In a world that is soon to be dominated by artificial intelligence, let’s not forget how to curate our own teammates. Keep your authorship and choose your co-authors wisely.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.