Competitive & Marketing Intelligence Resources
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.
Make sure you understand your information sources
A film crew was on location deep in the desert.
One day an old Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow rain." The next day it rained.
A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow storm." The next day there was a hailstorm.
"This Indian is incredible," said the director.
He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather for the remaining of the shoot. However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian didn't show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him.
"I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow," said the director, "and I'm depending on you. What will the weather be like?"
The Indian shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know," he said. "My radio is broken."
One Moral: Make sure that you fully understand your sources of information - and any drawbacks or weaknesses associated with them, before using them for any major plans.
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.
The Mushroom Theory of Management
Keep all employees in the dark and feed them sh*t!
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.
- If you're bidding on a job for UPS, don't send your bid by FedEx.
- If your computer says, "Printer out of Paper," the problem cannot be resolved by continuously clicking the "OK" button.
- If you want your refrigerator's ice maker to work, you need to hook it to a water source.
Air doesn't make good ice unless it is mixed with water.
- No matter how much data you add to your laptop computer, it will not get heavier. (And also the reverse: deleting lots of files will not make it any lighter)
- When your PC says "You have mail," don't go to the company mail room and look for a package.
- The French version of Internet Explorer doesn't translate English language web pages into French.
- If you're in the armed services, and it's April 1st, and you get an e-mail message to call Colonel Sanders for new orders, don't.
- If you go to the computer store to buy a mousepad, you don't have to specify whether it's for a Windows or a Macintosh.
Rules of Work
2) Messy Desks
Senior management can get away with clean desks. For anybody else it looks as if you are not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the casual observer, last year's work looks the same as today's work. It's the volume that counts. So pile the papers high and spread them wide.
Even better, put lots of books on the floor to make it look like you are working on something major. Thick computer manuals are one possibility.
If you know somebody is going to visit your desk, bury the document you need halfway down an existing stack and rummage through it with purpose when he/she arrives.
Based on ideas from BBC Television's The Office. For further rules of work and office humour, bookmark this page and visit again soon.