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How to Add AI to Your Team (Thinks Out Loud Episode 383)

Picture of woman with stylized technology overlain to illustrate the idea of how to add AI to your team

AI won’t steal your job… you’ve heard that before. What it might do though is change what your job is. And it will definitely make you and your team more productive. It’s not your replacement; it’s your co-worker.

The question is, how do you add AI to your team? How do you make it work for you, your employees, your customers, and your business?

The latest Thinks Out Loud podcast takes a look at the state of artificial intelligence and how you can add AI to your team to improve your productivity, drive more revenue… and maybe just save your job.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

How to Add AI to Your Team (Thinks Out Loud Episode 383) — Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Running time: 22m 29s

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Transcript: How to Add AI to Your Team

Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 383 of the Big Show. And I think we’ve got a good one for you today. I think there’s gonna be a lot of fun. Ethan Mollick is a Wharton professor who I follow on Twitter, I read a lot, et cetera, and he had a great point the other day about how to think about artificial intelligence, how to think about tools like ChatGPT and Google, Bard and Bing’s AI chat. As adding someone to your team as a coworker and as digital professionals, as marketing professionals. I think that’s the right way to think about it.

When we look at AI, when we look at incorporating AI into our business, into our work lives, It’s not necessarily how are we going to use this to change up everything we do, but how are we going to use it to make our teams better? How are we going to use it to make our business better? So that’s kind of what I wanna talk about today.

I’ve been talking to folks at conference board meetings and clients and the like, and been polling people about how you can build a team that you can use AI effectively. We all know there is lots of uncertainty out there. The economy is still as weird as I’ve ever seen. It is one of the weirdest economies we have ever witnessed, and there are lots of layoffs in big tech.

Obviously, when you add artificial intelligence to this, it can create lots of uncertainty for the folks on your team. There was a recent research paper that the Brookings Institute pointed out that said large language models can affect 80% of the US workforce in some form, and I’m sure the folks on your team know that.

I’m sure that you know that. I’m sure that you’ve got some concerns about that. There was a Wall Street Journal article just the other day that said we may be at the peak of the need for knowledge workers. This was from a man named TIF Rafiq, who is a former Chief Digital Officer at McDonald’s and Volvo.

He said, we just need fewer people to do the same thing. The journal article went on to say, long after robots began taking manufacturing jobs, artificial intelligence is now coming for the higher ups, accountants, software programmers, human resources specialists, and lawyers. Your folks know this, you know this.

I have long argued that AI won’t steal your job, but smart people who use AI will. What’s also true is that some parts of your job are definitely at risk. There are definitely places where AI can hurt. What you do can take away part of what you do, and it’s pretty clear. People are somewhat concerned about this.

They’re somewhat worried. In some ways, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We all know that happy employee employees are more productive. Shocking. I know, right? But Ethan Mollick, again, linked to research that actually proves this, that we know that people who feel better in their work are more productive.

The flip side of that is, of course, also true. People who are not happy are less productive people who are not happy. Are more ripe to be disrupted by artificial intelligence because if they’re not productive, you know, your managers and people like that, you might look at your team and say, maybe I should be using these tools in place of my employees.

Now, I’m not in favor of that, I don’t think that’s a great idea, and I’m gonna explain why in a moment. The math backs up what I’m gonna say, by the way, you know, but I was always trained. In the hospitality industry and in financial services, I grew up in service industries, and there’s a longstanding belief that if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers.

You will have better customer relationships, you will have better, more productive, more successful businesses. Because they’re gonna create a great experience for your customer. And as we all know, customer experience is queen. Your customer will then sometimes talk about it in social media, and their friends and family and fans and followers will learn that this is a good place to work with, which will drive more business.

This has been demonstrated again and again and again over the years. And worried employees create exactly the opposite problem. They’re not happy, they’re not gonna take care of your customers. Your customers can have a bad experience and if they have a bad experience, they’re very likely to tell people about it, which is going to hurt your business.

So what do you do about it? I would argue you don’t look at using AI to replace your employees. You look at AI as a co-worker, as a co-pilot in Microsoft’s terms that makes your employees more effective, more successful employees are already saying they think it helps. There was a study done recently where programmers were asked.

How they felt about using GitHub co-pilot, which is Microsoft’s AI tool there, and 88% said I am more productive. Half of them, 60% of them said they’re less frustrated with coat when coding. Another 60% said they’re more fulfilled with their job, 74%. They were able to focus on more satisfying work. And 80% of them said that they were faster at completing their tasks.

Turns out that AI can increase productivity in lots of areas. Fortune highlighted a study just the other day where they said the greatest productivity boost was seen among novice and low skilled workers. AI had, quote, minimal impact on experienced and highly skilled workers, but in less experienced staff.

AI helped them work 35% faster than they had without using artificial intelligence and its assistance. The same paper that I cited by Brooking earlier said, can these gains in a specific tasks translate into significant gains in a real world setting? The answer appears to be yes. Yen Lee and Raymond, in a recent paper show that call center operators became 14% more productive when they used the technology with the gains of over 30% for the least experienced workers.

Basically, people who are not quite as skilled at their job. Are getting help. They’re getting a tutor, they’re getting a co-worker, they’re getting a co-pilot. They’re getting an assistant to help them through the complicated parts. Now, this is where it starts to get interesting because there are two different approaches you can take Here.

You say, we’re gonna get 14% more efficient. We’re gonna get 14% more productive. Many companies, many leaders, many managers would say, well, why don’t I just go ahead and reduce my costs by 14%? And I would argue you might want to think about how you can increase your productivity by 14% without increasing costs, and that why that’s better for you.

In the long run, let’s say your company generates a million dollars in revenue. That can be per hour. That can be per day, per week, per month, what have you? Doesn’t matter, but you’re generating a million dollars in revenue. Let’s assume that you’re operating at a 15% margin. Which means that it costs you $850,000 out of that million to run your business, and you get to pocket profits of $150,000.

You can reinvest that in the business. You can put that right in your pocket, whichever you prefer. You can distribute it amongst your employees. Mad make, I’m happy, right? But you get lots of options of what you’re gonna do with that 150 grand. Now if you can actually use AI to offset some of your labor costs today, let’s just say you’re gonna get 14% more productive, you’re gonna reduce your cost by 14%.

That’s $119,000 out of that million bucks out of the $850,000 right of cost. And your profits go from being $150,000 to 269,000, $150,000 profit and the $119,000 you saved by using AI to be more productive. Cool. Right? Dump some employees right away and replace them all with robots. That’s the winning strategy, right?

Or. You could use it to improve service and drive revenues without increasing your cost. Let’s say we apply that 14% of productivity to our revenues instead for the same cost. Instead of a million dollars, you’re now making 1.14 million. For that same 850,000, and if we subtract eight 50 from 1.14, that’s $290,000 in profit, or $21,000 more profit per period than in the cost savings scenario, which again, you can invest back into your business or you can invest in your employees, or you can put in your pocket.

Now if you have a company that’s making 150 grand in profit, Or one that’s making $269,000 in profit, or one that’s making $290,000 in profit. Which one do you think is going to be the most successful in the long term? The one with the greatest profits. Right? They have the most ability to weather a rainy day.

They have the most money to invest in their products or their services or their people. They are probably the business that’s going to be the most successful in the long run. I would argue you are better served applying these gains to driving more revenue at the same cost. Sure. Save costs where you can always save costs where you can.

But Tom Peters said years ago, and it still sticks with me. You can’t shrink your way to greatness. The way to grow your profits in the longer term is to grow your revenues. It doesn’t mean you be wasteful. It doesn’t mean you don’t focus on the savings where they exist. You do you Absolutely. Do you also try to grow the business in the longer term in terms of its revenues and its profitability?

And that brings us back to people and how we use AI to make our people more effective. Doesn’t it make more sense to help your team use these tools to drive more benefit to your company? And let’s be honest, they’re probably doing it anyway. Few people who have ambition and a desire to stay employed and a desire to stay employable.

Are avoiding these. They are almost certainly trying to learn how to use these tools to do what they do better, to be more successful. I would want to put those folks to work. I would want to direct those people towards doing it in a way that would benefit my business. I would certainly be doing it if I were them.

I mean, if I’m being honest, I’m already doing this for my business, asking questions about how my customers can replace what my team and I do with ai, and can we use AI to make ourselves more effective and more credible and more beneficial to our customers and drive more business. We’ve seen this movie before.

We’ve seen it with social media, we’ve seen it with mobile, we’ve seen it with email, we’ve seen it with the internet. Companies figure out how to use these tools in ways that their competition haven’t. They’re not just using them as ways to drive down cost. They’re using them as ways to be better at what they do, and as a result, building more sustainable businesses.

So I would argue you want to take some of that potential benefit and invest it in your team to help them grow, to help them learn so that they can help your company grow, so that they can help your company learn. This reminds me of a story that I ran into once where we were talking about training for a group of folks and it was gonna be expensive at a company I used to work for.

And somebody asked, what if we train these folks and they leave? And the CFO of the company who was in the meeting said, what if we don’t train them and they stay? I’d much rather have folks who are committed to the business, who are committed to my customers, who feel that their future and the future of the business are linked.

We’re gonna end up in a much better place because of it. At the same time, you can’t just throw the doors open, and I fully acknowledge that. You know, when you build a ship, you build the shipwreck. We don’t just want com, we don’t just want our employees doing whatever with these tools. We want to direct them in a way that’s beneficial to them and to the business and to our customers.

I’m reminded specifically of when social media made its way into the workplace. I worked for a company at the time I was an exec at the company and we were debating whether or not we should allow our employees to use social media at work. And one of my colleagues who was a bit of a pain in the rear end was not in favor of this.

He simply thought that people were gonna waste time. They were going to not do their jobs. They were gonna be very ineffective and the like. And he said, how will we know if they’re doing their jobs? And another exec that, well, you could try managing them. Which, okay, snarky but true. What you want to do is you want to provide guardrails.

You want to provide things like an acceptable use policy, just as we did with social media, just as many companies did with email, just as many companies did with the internet. How do we use these tools? What’s an appropriate way to use these tools that benefits the business and doesn’t create a shipwreck or certainly tries to minimize the risks of shipwrecks?

You start with the why’s. Why does this policy exist? What are the responsibilities of your employees to use these tools in a productive and effective and safe way? What is appropriate, you know, how do they use these ethically? How do they use them in a way that is compliant with applicable laws and regulations in your industry?

How do they use these in a way that follow your security policies? Call out uses that aren’t appropriate. Don’t upload customer data or proprietary information or copyrighted information or otherwise sensitive information. Be clear about what’s expressly prohibited, and again, why it’s expressly prohibited.

You’re not doing it to be a jerk. You’re doing it because you don’t want to create a shipwreck. You know, things like use it to create things that are discriminatory or defamatory hijacking in other company’s brands, or the names or images or likenesses of celebrities or other people of note, I don’t know.

For example, your competitor’s ceo, it might be hilarious to create, you know, an ad with your competitor’s CEO saying things that they would never say, but built in the style of their verbiage, because AIS can do that. I don’t think I would, and I think we wanna be clear with people why they probably shouldn’t do that.

Make it clear to your employees that when they’re in doubt, they can ask and let them know who to ask so that they’re actually doing the right thing. And you can revisit and revise this regularly. This stuff is changing a lot every day. So we want to be sure we’re giving people the tools to use the most effectively.

We want to train them, we want to help them. We want to guide them in such a way that this is a really effective coworker for your employees and for your business, so that you get those productivity gains so that you get the ability to grow so that you don’t have to try to shrink your way to greatness.

And instead put AI to work for your business and make it a valuable teammate. And if you do that well, I’m confident you will see those benefits and be really happy that you added AI to your team.

Show Closing and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for this episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 379.

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Show Outro

Finally, I know I say this every week, but I very much appreciate you listening. I would not do this show without you. It means so much to me that we can have a conversation and build this community together.

It means the world to me that you listen. It means the world to me that you comment. It means the world to me that you reach out to me on social. And I just love that we get to keep the dialogue going. So please, let’s keep the dialogue going. Go ahead, keep your emails coming. Keep pinging me on LinkedIn. Keep pinging me on Twitter. I love hearing from you. I love getting to chat with you about all of this each week.

With all that said, I hope you have an amazing rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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