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.
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.
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.
4. Payment of bills, quickly, without problems.
(Courtesy of Paul Hemsley, ex-of Thomson Scientific (formerly Derwent Information)
The Mushroom Theory of Management
Keep all employees in the dark and feed them sh*t!
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".
- 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.
- 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.
- And the managers went to their directors saying
It is a vessel of fertiliser and none can stand its strength.
- And the directors spoke among themselves saying to one another
It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong.
- And the directors went unto the vice-presidents and said
It promotes growth and is very powerful.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.