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.
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.
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.
- 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.