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Business Humour


Businesses (and people) over time develop habits and patterns of working. Sometimes these will lead to success, but often they can stop management from seeing reality - especially when the business environment changes.

A successful competitive intelligence programme will identify these business blindspots - both in the company itself, and in its competitors. Taking advantage of competitor blindspots is a major way that a company can beat its competitors, so it is crucial to understand one's own blindspots so as to protect oneself from possible attack.

One way to illustrate business problems is through humour. Humour allows businesses to take a step back and see a problem applied to a situation that appears different to their own. However on deeper examination, one can sometimes see similar behaviour in the organization - thus highlighting a possible blindspot.

Humour is just one technique for showing blindspots. Others include the use of drama workshops and story-telling, or war-gaming where the business environment is modelled and management try and take an external look at their and their competitor situations. This page gives examples of business humour that may seem amusing but have a grain of truth to them. (If you know of other similar items please contact us and if we like them, then we will add them - with an author credit if desired. We also plan to change stories on a regular basis - as we come across suitable items - so bookmark this page and revisit for further examples of business humour.)

Most of the following stories and office "theories" are anonymous. That does not mean that they lack validity - and in fact there are a number of lessons relevant to general business, marketing and competitive intelligence that can be learned from them.

Wise Owl

Famous People - Next Job Interviews

Julius Caesar - My last job involved a lot of office politics and back stabbing. I'd like to get away from all that.

Jesse James - I can list among my experience and skills:

  • leadership,
  • extensive travel,
  • logistical organization,
  • intimate understanding of firearms,
  • a knowledge of security measures at numerous banks.

Lucretia Borgia - My greatest accomplishment? after I took over the department, our competition just seemed to drop out of sight one by one.

Pandora - I can bring a lot to your company. I like discovering new things.

Genghis Khan - My primary talent is downsizing. On my last job, I downsized my staff, my organization, and the populations of several countries.

Macbeth - Would I go after my boss's job? Do I look like the kind of guy who would knock off his boss for a promotion?

Lady Godiva - What do mean this isn't business casual?

Elvis - My last boss and I... say, are you going to eat those fries?

Just because the Resume / CV looks good does not mean it wasn't embellished. And even if the interview went well, the candidate could have lied. Rather than take the risk, take up the references!

Wise Owl

Don't overlook the obvious

A story is told about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

Once, Conan-Doyle was visiting Paris and climbed into a taxi cab. Before he could utter a word, the driver turned to him and asked, "Where can I take you, Sir Arthur?"  

Conan-Doyle was flabbergasted. He asked the driver if he had ever seen him before.  

"No, sir," the driver responded, "I have never seen you before."

Then he explained: "This morning's paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand  where people who return from Marseilles always come to. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation. The ink-spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."  

"This is truly amazing!" the writer exclaimed. "You are a real-life counter-part to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes!"

"There is one other thing," the driver said.    

"What is that?"

"Your name is on the front of your suitcase."

Sometimes one doesn't need to depend too much on analysis. The answer is available just by looking. Many analysts try and show how clever they are by making something simple look complicated - or worse, actually spend company time searching through various sources when the answer is right in front of them.

Wise Owl

The Mushroom Theory of Management

Keep all employees in the dark and feed them sh*t!

Wise Owl

Month Ending

Another month ends
All targets met.
All systems working.
All customers satisfied.
Staff eager and enthusiastic.
Pigs fed and ready to fly!

However important it is to keep records, a culture that expects everything to be sorted at month-end is dangerous. Another example is where management set unrealistic targets, (perhaps even with penalties if they are not met). All that happens is that people "invent" or exaggerate what is happening, manipulating information so that it matches what management has asked for. Over time this becomes embedded in the culture - another blindspot.

Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have said: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics". Companies spend a lot of time using statistics to show what is happening - but is this real and objective or just wishful thinking and subjective?

Wise Owl

A matter of interpretation.

  • When I take a long time - I am slow.
  • When my boss takes a long time - he is thorough.
  • When I don't do it - I am lazy.
  • When my boss doesn't do it - he is too busy.
  • When I do something without being told - I am trying to be smart.
  • When my boss does the same - that is initiative.
  • When I please my boss - I am creeping.
  • When my boss pleases his boss - he is co-operating
  • When I do good - my boss never remembers.
  • When I do wrong - he never forgets.

Another version - this time from a more feminist perspective (?) was passed to us as an E-mail from the "Cab Lady" in Singapore. The original was by Katherine S. Beamer. It can, however, be made more general - just change some of the words: man could become "lazy employee" while a woman could become "the boss". It doesn't work totally - but it illustrates how some people view work and others.

  • A man is a person who, if a woman says, Never mind, I'll do it myself, lets her.
  • A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, Never mind, I'll do it myself, and he lets her, gets mad.
  • A man is a person who, if a woman says to him, Never mind, I'll do it myself, and he lets her and she gets mad, says, Now what are you mad about?
  • A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, Never mind, I'll do it myself, and he lets her and she gets mad, and he says, Now what are you mad about? says If you don't know I'm not going to tell you.

Wise Owl

Rules of Work

4) Your look

Always try and look impatient and annoyed - this gives the impression that you are are extremely busy on important, yet difficult, work.

Sigh loudly when people pass by. This gives the impression that you are under enormous work pressure.

If you work in a big open plan office, make sure that you have two jackets. Always leave a spare jacket over the back of your seat. This gives the impression that you are in the office - throughout lunch, early in the morning and late in the evening, when actually you'd left early to watch a football game.

Based on ideas from BBC Television's The Office. For further rules of work and office humour, bookmark this page and visit again soon.

Wise Owl

Quick Tip: Consumers

Quick Tip

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people. (Stanley Marcus)

How do you view your customers?

Do you see them as simply profit-streams, or customer reference numbers or do you genuinely care about them. If the former, how do you ensure that your customers stay happy with your services, when you don't recognise their individuality and humanity.

Just think how you would feel if you were treated like a number, especially if you could switch to a competitor who made you feel special!

 

Books - Competitors (Fahey)

Recommended Book

Competitors (Fahey)
Competitors: Outwitting, Outmanoeuvring, and Outperforming
Liam Fahey
Buy UK £ or US$

Read our review of this book

Competitors shows you how to determine what you need to know about competitors, analyse competitor strategy, predict likely next moves and link this into your own operations, avoiding many errors associated with traditional approaches.
Liam Fahey is one of the leading new thinkers on Competitive Strategy and this book introduces Fahey's concept of "competitor learning", giving guidelines for identifying and analysing key competitor data to help gain strategic insights. An important book - that should sit on any CI analyst's bookshelf.

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For more recommendations visit our book selection.

 

Competitive Intelligence Training

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Finding Competitive Intelligence using Online Sources

AWARE consultants are experts at discovering competitor information online and have developed a market-leading course on Finding Competitive Intelligence using Online Sources. This course has been given as an in-house course to numerous companies across industries (IT, publishing, telecoms, chemicals....) and countries, as well as publicly at SCIP annual and European conferences, the London International Online Information Conferences and other similar events.

The workshop has received high praise for its unique approach to finding competitive intelligence on the Internet. The workshop - available as a half-day summary, full day or 2-day in-depth training course with extensive practical online sessions - teaches attendees how to find actionable competitive intelligence rather than just present a list of sources that quickly date. Like all AWARE's in-house training, the course can be customised to focus on industry or competitive area.

For more information on this workshop and how it can help you become a more effective Internet researcher check out our Competitive Intelligence Training and ask us about our courses on finding CI information.

 

Institute of Competitive Intelligence


ICI holds regular public training courses & workshops on a range of competitive intelligence related topics. Courses take place across Europe, the USA, India and elsewhere - and are offered in English, German, French and Spanish.

The next UK based ICI courses will take place in March 2012 in central London with further courses in Autumn 2012.

Course Schedule
If you register 40 days in advance, deduct 5% from total fees.

Further information on the Institute of Competitive Intelligence.

 

Competitive Intelligence on a budget

Many businesses think that competitive intelligence research is expensive and hard to do. This is not true. It is quite possible to uncover crucial competitive intelligence without spending large sums.

Visiting industry trade-shows and conferences is a fantastic way to find out what is happening. However there is much more to trade show intelligence than just picking up the competitors' marketing materials. You can discuss what is happening in the industry with sales people on competitor stands and hear opinion leaders at floor-show seminars.

At a trade-show, competitor sales people are generally willing to talk to anybody - including their competitors. They will want to boast about what they are doing and how. What they refuse to say can be as informative as what they do say - and so trade shows present a golden opportunity for gathering intelligence on the whole marketplace in one go - making for fast and efficient intelligence gathering. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself or want to know how to do it better, ask us.

For more information on Trade Show Intelligence, and how to do competitive intelligence on a budget, contact us today on +44 20 8954 9121 or .


Our services in competitive intelligence research, competitor analysis and CI training will help you integrate and use competitive and marketing intelligence in your business, strategic and marketing planning processes. Whether you need research, advice or training, our mission is to support our clients so that they achieve their growth objectives.

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