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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

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.

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

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

Helpful Hints

  • 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.

Wise Owl

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.

Wise Owl

Quick Tip: Questions

Quick Tip

A key competitive intelligence skill is the ability to distinguish what you do know from what you don't know. The effort is then to find out sources for the unknown information - as the great English writer, Dr Samuel Johnson said:

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.

Unfortunately even with the knowledge there can be problems. Lewis Branscomb - the US physicist and Harvard management professor once said:

People rarely distinguish among data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. But they are as different from each other and as interlocking as starch molecules, flour, bread, and the flavorful memory of a superb morning croissant.

The aim of competitive & marketing intelligence is to turn data into something that can lead to competitive advantage in the same way that your morning croissant or loaf of bread depends on flour and water interacting to make something that is more than just a mixture of the raw ingredients.

 

Books - Co-opertition

Recommended Book

Smart Services
Co-opetition : 1. a revolutionary mindset that redefines competition and cooperation; 2. the game theory strategy that's changing the game of business
Adam M Brandenburger & Barry J Nalebuff
Buy UK £ or US$

Read our review of this book

Michael Porter described this book as "the most important single contribution" in taking his original ideas on ways of achieving competitive advantage forward. The book is easy to read, inexpensive and contains numerous ideas to help reshape and challenge thought processes. The writers develop Porter's 5 forces model, and introduce a sixth force. They emphasise the strategic advantages of co-operation and look at game theory as a way of approaching business strategy.

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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.

Visiting industry trade-shows and conferences is a fantastic way to find out what is happening. However there is much more to trade show intelligence than just picking up the competitors' marketing materials. You can discuss what is happening in the industry with sales people on competitor stands and hear opinion leaders at floor-show seminars.

At a trade-show, competitor sales people are generally willing to talk to anybody - including their competitors. They will want to boast about what they are doing and how. What they refuse to say can be as informative as what they do say - and so trade shows present a golden opportunity for gathering intelligence on the whole marketplace in one go - making for fast and efficient intelligence gathering. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself or want to know how to do it better, ask us.

For more information on Trade Show Intelligence, 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.

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