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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

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!)

Wise Owl

Job Advertisement translator

What they say

What they really mean

A highly visible position

We can't afford any office partitions, let alone offices

Flexible Hours Work 40 hours

Plus whatever your supervisor asks you to.

Duties will vary

Anyone in the office can boss you around.

Must have an eye for detail.

We have no quality control to speak of

No phone calls please.

We've filled the job. This ad is just a legal formality

Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience.

You'll need it to replace three people who just left

Seeking candidates who require little or no supervision

You're on your own here; sink or swim.

Problem-solving skills a must.

This is a company in perpetual chaos and turmoil.

Requires team-leadership skills

You'll have the manager's responsibilities, without the pay

Good communication skills.

Management communicate, you listen, figure out what they want.

Ability to handle a heavy workload.

Whine or complain and you're fired!

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: Questions

Quick Tip: Ask the right question

Rather than look for information to answer a question, think about how you will use the answer.

If you won't be able to incorporate actions based on the answer you find into your business strategy then maybe the question you asked needs changing to something that will lead to meaningful actions.

 

Books - Art of the Long View

Recommended Book

Art of the Long View
The Art of the Long View
Peter Schwartz
Buy UK £ or US$
This is an excellent introduction and guide to scenario planning.

Read our review of this book

If there is one book that is head and shoulders above all the other on the subject of scenario planning, this is it. Schwartz's book is a joy to read and gives a tremendous introduction to the subject, leaving the reader with a firm grounding and understanding in the way that scenario planning has helped many companies gain competitive advantage in their industries. The text includes many case studies and anecdotes making it a must-read book. Peter Schwartz is not only one of the world's leading scenario planners - but an excellent writer also.

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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.

One technique that works is Win-loss analysis. This is perhaps the single most overlooked, yet valuable, technique in the competitive intelligence arsenal.

When you lose a client find out the reason why - not just what the salesperson says, but the real reason. Follow up with the lost client to find out why they switched, to whom and how their new supplier compares. Do the same when you win a customer - why did they choose you in preference to other options in the market. The information gathered can show what you are doing well and where you are failing. It can help you understand competitor strategies and tactics - how they sell, what their targets are, their pricing, and so on. The only drawback is that it can be difficult for a company to call up lost clients themselves - and that's where AWARE can help.

For more information on Win-Loss analysis, 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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