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.
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!
Another month ends
All targets met.
All systems working.
All customers satisfied.
Staff eager and enthusiastic.
Pigs fed and ready to fly!
However important it is to keep records, a culture that expects everything to be sorted at month-end is dangerous. Another example is where management set unrealistic targets, (perhaps even with penalties if they are not met). All that happens is that people "invent" or exaggerate what is happening, manipulating information so that it matches what management has asked for. Over time this becomes embedded in the culture - another blindspot.
Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have said: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics". Companies spend a lot of time using statistics to show what is happening - but is this real and objective or just wishful thinking and subjective?
- 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
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.