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Dealing With The Growth Dilemma

Leading the Change with People, Training, and AI

Leader: "With the market in flux, I'm uneasy about investing in sales training that includes generative AI. The uncertainty makes me prefer a wait-and-see approach until we can gauge whether the industry's situation improves."

Sound familiar? I believe that is the wrong answer.

The leader sees the problem as a dilemma, rather than an opportunity!  In these transformative times, INACTION IS THE VILLIAN!

Just ask the following companies how the wait-and-see approach served them:

  1. Kodak: once a leader in the photography industry, was slow to adapt to the rise of digital photography. Despite having developed one of the first digital cameras in the 1970s, the company feared that embracing the new technology would undermine its lucrative film business. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

  2. Blockbuster: was the leading video rental company, with thousands of stores across the globe. When Netflix approached Blockbuster in 2000 to propose a partnership, Blockbuster dismissed the offer and chose to continue with its traditional rental model rather than explore the then-emerging streaming business. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

  3. BlackBerry: dominated the early smartphone market with its iconic keyboard devices. However, it was reluctant to embrace the rise of touchscreen technology popularized by the iPhone. The company believed that its physical keyboard was indispensable and held off developing a true touchscreen smartphone until years later.  But it was too late.  It had lost significant market share to Apple and Android devices. Today, BlackBerry no longer manufactures smartphones.  It has morphed into a software/technology company and by some standards is on a “respirator” with net losses of -$130 million and -$734 million in fiscal 24 and 23 respectively.

I could go on with Nokia, Sears, Radio Shack, and more. 

And here is the challenge today: the leader sees both options as a problem:

  1. Investing in sales training would lessen their cash position in these tough economic times.

  2. The industry is in decline. Thus, there is no guarantee it won’t decline further.

That is the growth dilemma.

So, the way to address this problem is… by not addressing it? 
By hunkering down and riding it out?

In today's economy, where growth is flat or down for many companies, and AI is increasingly influencing how businesses operate, the biggest mistake leaders can make is doing nothing.

Again, inaction is the real villain.

I believe that businesses can never truly remain the same relative to their competitors and the changing landscape. You're either getting better or worse relative to the competition. That is why we have invested heavily in AI over the past year to augment skill development, doubled down by bringing seven people to SIA’s Executive Forum, and hired two new salespeople in February.

The Pitfall of Standing Still

Many leaders respond to economic uncertainty by adopting a "wait and see" attitude, hoping that conditions will improve on their own. This approach often leads to stagnation or decline as competitors take proactive steps to seize opportunities. Doing nothing can feel safe, but it prevents companies from capitalizing on emerging trends and innovations. As AI becomes more integral to a company’s success, it's crucial for businesses to embrace change, invest in people, and harness technology to stay ahead.

Invest in Your People

A company's most valuable asset is its people. And we are entering an unprecedented period of change. The ability to change requires an ability to learn. We must invest in employees to build a culture of continuous learning and development, empowering individuals to evolve with the organization and contribute meaningfully to its growth.

By investing in your people, you create a team that's ready to innovate, solve complex problems, and lead the charge toward transformation. Your people should feel confident in their ability to learn new technologies and processes, understanding that they are integral to the organization's success.

Harness the Power of AI

AI isn't just a buzzword; it's a “game-changing” force that can help companies analyze data, automate repetitive tasks, enhance decision-making, and improve people skills. By integrating AI into everyday operations, you can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and offer more personalized experiences to your clients.

Over the past six months, we've seen firsthand how businesses that leverage AI can identify new opportunities, improve skills, and take share from their competition. The key lies in ensuring that your team is well-versed in AI's use cases and how it aligns with your strategic goals. Training your people to understand and use AI effectively will position your company to lead in your industry.

Lead the Change, Don’t Wait for It

The current economic landscape is challenging, but it's also ripe with opportunities for companies willing to take bold action. Don't wait for change to happen to your business. Lead the change by prioritizing investment in your people, training, and AI. Create a culture that welcomes innovation and sees uncertainty as a chance to redefine success.

At Butler Street, we believe that organizations that proactively invest in their workforce and technology will emerge stronger and more competitive. Don't stand pat and hope things will get better—make them better by taking decisive action. Contact us to learn how we can equip your team with the skills and tools they need to thrive in this new era.




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