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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

How to delay paying your bills.

  • Wait until they send the bill the third time then write. (Never phone, or use e-mail - writing is slower) and ask why you haven't received an invoice. Demand a written reply for your auditors.
  • Ask for an itemised account but don't explain what you mean by itemised. When you receive the invoice, write back saying that it was not what you had wanted at all.
  • Send a cheque with figures not matching words. When they call to complain, send a corrected cheque - but omit to sign it.
  • Send a copy of their invoice with a torn corner of cheque stapled to it. This will start a frantic hunt for your missing cheque. When you eventually hear from your supplier - delay further while you check with your bank. And all the time they'll be apologising to you!
  • Tell them that your cheques require two signatures and the other signing officer is on prolonged sick leave/sabbatical/silver anniversary cruise for the next month
  • Send a cheque for the wrong amount made out to a completely different (fictional) company. When they call, promise that you will sort it out - but will have to track down how the mistake occurred and contact the other company to get the cheque back.

Courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet who point out that none of these will work if you use their services! In fact good credit control is essential for business cash flow. Even though customers may try and delay paying their bills, there is a guaranteed way of collecting from all but the most awkward debtors. The 4 P's

1. Personal Contact - deal directly with your debtor.
2. Patience - be prepared to wait
3. Persistence - but don't ever give up.
lead to
4. Payment of bills, quickly, without problems.

(Courtesy of Paul Hemsley, ex-of Thomson Scientific
(formerly Derwent Information)

Wise Owl

The Mushroom Theory of Management

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

Wise Owl

Top-Down Planning?

In the beginning was the plan and then came the assumptions and the assumptions were without form and the plan was without substance and the darkness was upon the face of the workers and they spoke amongst themselves saying "It is a crock of sh*t, and it stinketh".

  1. And the workers went to their supervisors and said
    It is a pail of dung and none can stand the odour that rises from it.
  2. And the supervisors went unto the managers and said
    It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none can come near.
  3. And the managers went to their directors saying
    It is a vessel of fertiliser and none can stand its strength.
  4. And the directors spoke among themselves saying to one another
    It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong.
  5. And the directors went unto the vice-presidents and said
    It promotes growth and is very powerful.
  6. And the vice-presidents went to the President and said to him
    This new plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this company.
  7. And the President looked on the plan and saw that it was good, and the plan became policy.

The above story, unfortunately, is typical of the way many companies work. Rather than listening and communicating honestly, different levels within the organization pass on only what more senior management want to hear. This way the truth disappears, and policies are made that ignore reality - a classical business blindspot. This tends to go hand-in-hand with the Mushroom Theory of Management above.

Wise Owl

Keys to better relationships

The Six Most Important Words: I admit that I was wrong.
The Five Most Important: You did a great job
The Four Most Important: What do you think?
The Three Most Important: Could you please?
The Two Most Important: Thank you.
The Most Important: We.
The Least Important: I

Wise Owl

Rules of Work

5) Leave the office late

Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. (If you do have to leave before your boss, make sure you walk pass his office on your way out so that he sees how late you are leaving). You could read magazines and books that you always wanted to read, or write letters to friends and family - just be there and look busy.

Send important emails at unearthly hours (9.35pm, 7.07am, etc.) and during public holidays. You may even be able to set your computer to do this for you by changing the time or date on the system clock - sending the email just before leaving - and then putting the clock back to the normal time.

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: Entrance

Quick Tip

Robert Smith was devastated.

As the owner of a small retail business selling various groceries he had always recognised the threat posed by major supermarket chains such as Tesco, Walmart, Carrefour and the like. Now a branch of Tesco had opened next door, and business was tailing off.

He told all his friends how worried he was - and that things couldn't possibly be worse. And then a branch of Walmart opened on the other side. Robert now told friends that he expected to be out of business within the year.

His friends were really surprised when they met him a few months later - getting out of a top-range Mercedes wearing an expensive suit and with a big smile on his face.
We thought business was so bad that you were about to go bankrupt. What happened?

Robert replied: Well that is what I thought. And then I remembered that one secret to effective marketing is to make sure that your potential customers know where to find you. So I changed the name of my company. Come and look!"

Robert's friends followed him to his shop, sandwiched between Tesco and Walmart. Over the front, the new name was posted in big neon letters ENTRANCE

How do you promote your business? Can potential customers find you? Do your marketing promotions send people away, or invite them to come and buy. You need to ensure that all your marketing promotions allow customers to enter.

(For more marketing and business humour, visit our humour pages)

 

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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