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.
Do you really need all your employees?
Linda and Marion were comparing notes on the difficulties of running a small business.
"I started a new practice last year," Linda said. "I insist that each of my employees take at least a week off every three months."
"Why in the world would you do that?" Marion asked.
"It's the best way I know of to learn which ones I can do without," Linda replied.
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!
AWARE Competitive Intelligence - Showing business blindspots through humour
The KISS Theory of Management
It is always an idea to keep things simple - as expressed by the abbreviation KISS. I have heard a number of explanations for what KISS stands for. Take your pick ;-)
- Keep It Simple and Sexy
- Keep It Simple and Straight
- Keep It Sweet and Simple
- Keep It Simple Stupid
- Keep It Simple for the Suckers.
(Of the five options, the last one is dangerous if used by a company to describe their sales process and view of customers. This is a typical business blindspot i.e. the customer is too stupid to assess what is really going on. The others are almost the reverse - in that they emphasise the importance of keeping things plain and simple, rather than hide behind complexity - another business blindspot!)
- 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.
Quick Tip: History
After you've heard two eyewitness accounts of an automobile accident it makes you wonder about history.
A key part of competitive intelligence is ensuring that the information you use is valid. Making decisions on inaccurate, out-of-date, subjective or biased information will result in poor strategies that could risk your future. The problem is, how do you check that the information you receive is correct? It is not just a case of believing what you read in the newspapers.
One approach you should take is to think about why the information is actually available. Information does not enter the public domain (which is where ethical CI focuses) without a reason. Understanding the reason is one step in checking the information's validity, and identifying what is really going on.
Ideally, you should also look for further sources that corroborate the information prior to making a decision.
This kind of analysis is what helps turn data into intelligence that can be used in business decision making.