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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

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

Making assumptions.

A standard phrase heard all the time is I assume that....
This often really means I haven't a clue but I am guessing that....
It's OK when you get it right, but not when you get it wrong. A golden rule before "assuming anything" is to think of the letters that make up the word assume. Whenever you make an assumption and get it wrong - you will have made an Ass of u and me.

Wise Owl

Job Advertisement translator

What they say

What they really mean

A highly visible position

We can't afford any office partitions, let alone offices

Flexible Hours Work 40 hours

Plus whatever your supervisor asks you to.

Duties will vary

Anyone in the office can boss you around.

Must have an eye for detail.

We have no quality control to speak of

No phone calls please.

We've filled the job. This ad is just a legal formality

Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience.

You'll need it to replace three people who just left

Seeking candidates who require little or no supervision

You're on your own here; sink or swim.

Problem-solving skills a must.

This is a company in perpetual chaos and turmoil.

Requires team-leadership skills

You'll have the manager's responsibilities, without the pay

Good communication skills.

Management communicate, you listen, figure out what they want.

Ability to handle a heavy workload.

Whine or complain and you're fired!

Rules of Work

3) Voice Mail

Never answer your phone. People don't call you because they want to give you something for nothing. They call you because they want you to do work for them. By not answering your phone and letting all calls go to voice mail you can screen the calls.

If somebody sends you a voice mail message that sounds like it will result in work, then respond during the lunch break or when you know the caller will not be there. It'll look as if you are hardworking and conscientous - even though you're actually shirking work.

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: Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Business Sins

1) Greed - Are you satisfied with what you've achieved or are you always seeking more, and never consolidating and strengthening what you currently have?
2) Opinion - Do you ever dismiss ideas without analysis? There have been many opportunities that were missed because opinionated management failed to see the wider picture.
3) Routine - Just because something worked in the past does not mean that it will continue to work in the future.
4) Emotion - Is the reason for your decision based on analysis, or emotion? Many managers are driven by their fears and desires without ever stopping to justify the reason for their fear or hatred or love. Often these prove to be unjustified and unjustifiable.
5) Ego - Do you make decisions because you are the cleverest, the biggest, the market leader? Are you obsessed with your own image and abilities? Many leaders in the past also thought that they were invincible. A quick look at history shows that they were not!
6) Success - Over-confidence is dangerous and can blind you to competitors seeking to emulate your success.
7) Hope - Can you justify your reasons why things will improve, or are you just burying your head in the sand, and refusing to see reality?

These seven deadly business sins are based on some work by Ben Gilad, one of the foremost Competitive Intelligence experts. Businesses need to understand their blindspots - what they would rather not see, and work to remove them. Each of these seven sins is a type of blindspot if it dominates the thinking within the company. It's OK to have each to a certain degree, balanced by the others. (All businesses need to believe in themselves, have hope, aim to make money....). The problem is when one aspect starts to govern the way things are done in the company, preventing rational and logical thought.

 

Books - Smart Services

Recommended Book

Smart Services
Smart Services: Competitive Information Strategies, Solutions and Success Stories for Service Businesses
Deborah C Sawyer
Buy UK £ or US$

Read our review of this book

The front cover of "Smart Services" includes a quote from Andrew Garvin, the CEO of Find/SVP saying: "Finally a book that nails down what every service business needs to know about competition and competitive intelligence. 'Smart Services' offers competitive information strategies that firms can put to immediate use." I don't think that I could have given a better summary and description of this excellent book.

For a thorough review of this book check out FreePint's book review. (FreePint is an excellent portal site and discussion forum for the overall information industry, and is well recommended - and used by over 70,000 information professionals world-wide).

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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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