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.
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.
The Mushroom Theory of Management
Keep all employees in the dark and feed them sh*t!
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?
- 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
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.