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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

Contradictory Evidence

Two cab drivers met.

"Hey," asked one, "what's the idea of painting one side of your cab red and the other side blue?"

"Well," the other responded, "when I get into an accident, you should see how all the witnesses contradict each other."

Just because two pieces of evidence picked up during a competitor research (or any other research) exercise contradict each other does not mean that they are both untrue. They could both be true - you just don't have the full picture.

Wise Owl

Rules of Work.

  • It doesn't matter what you do, it only matters what you say you've done and what you're going to do.
  • When the bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves.
  • Everything can be filed under "miscellaneous."
  • Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he/she is supposed to be doing.
  • If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.
  • The last person that quit or was fired will be held responsible for everything that goes wrong.

Wise Owl

The Mushroom Theory of Management

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

Wise Owl

Making assumptions.

A standard phrase heard all the time is I assume that....
This often really means I haven't a clue but I am guessing that....
It's OK when you get it right, but not when you get it wrong. A golden rule before "assuming anything" is to think of the letters that make up the word assume. Whenever you make an assumption and get it wrong - you will have made an Ass of u and me.

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

1) Never walk without a document in your hands.

People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they're heading to the staff restaurante or the coffee machine. Worse though is to walk with a newspaper. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they are heading to the bathroom. If you have to read a newspaper, read it at your desk holding a pair of scissors or a highlighter pen. That way people will think that you are working and looking for suitable articles to add to the company clipping service.

This rule about carrying documents is especially important when leaving work at the end of the day. Make sure that you are seen to carry loads of stuff home - giving the impression that you work much longer hours than you do.

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: Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Business Sins

1) Greed - Are you satisfied with what you've achieved or are you always seeking more, and never consolidating and strengthening what you currently have?
2) Opinion - Do you ever dismiss ideas without analysis? There have been many opportunities that were missed because opinionated management failed to see the wider picture.
3) Routine - Just because something worked in the past does not mean that it will continue to work in the future.
4) Emotion - Is the reason for your decision based on analysis, or emotion? Many managers are driven by their fears and desires without ever stopping to justify the reason for their fear or hatred or love. Often these prove to be unjustified and unjustifiable.
5) Ego - Do you make decisions because you are the cleverest, the biggest, the market leader? Are you obsessed with your own image and abilities? Many leaders in the past also thought that they were invincible. A quick look at history shows that they were not!
6) Success - Over-confidence is dangerous and can blind you to competitors seeking to emulate your success.
7) Hope - Can you justify your reasons why things will improve, or are you just burying your head in the sand, and refusing to see reality?

These seven deadly business sins are based on some work by Ben Gilad, one of the foremost Competitive Intelligence experts. Businesses need to understand their blindspots - what they would rather not see, and work to remove them. Each of these seven sins is a type of blindspot if it dominates the thinking within the company. It's OK to have each to a certain degree, balanced by the others. (All businesses need to believe in themselves, have hope, aim to make money....). The problem is when one aspect starts to govern the way things are done in the company, preventing rational and logical thought.


Books - Competitors (Fahey)

Recommended Book

Competitive Intelligence: Gathering, Analysing and Putting it to Work
Christopher Murphy
Buy UK £ or US$

Read our review of this book

If you are interested in learning about competitive intelligence with a UK / European focus then this book is for you. Most books on CI are written by US authors and take a US perspective. They fail to note the significant differences between what is available in the US and Europe and the UK. For example, in the US the US Freedom of Information Act is key for finding a lot of information. Such legislation has only recently been enacted in the UK and the type of information available is more limited. In contrast, financial information is much easier to obtain in the UK than the US. Murphy's book redresses the balance and fills a gap in guiding the CI newcomer on how to gather CI in Europe.

One of the best sections is a detailed examination of the sources and types of financial CI information that can be obtained within the UK. In fact I think this is unique. Of all the CI books I've read - none give anything like the same depth on this crucial topic.

For a thorough review of this book check out FreePint's book review.

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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.

For the best UK & European competitive intelligence and competitor analysis services, contact us today.

AWARE Phone numbers: 0845 430 9125 (International: +44 20 8954 9121). Fax: 0845 430 9126 (International: +44 20 8954 2102) AIIP

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