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Helping Smart People to Think Clearly
About Their Business and Competitive Strategy
JTHawes Consulting, LLC |
Issue 3  Volume 1  July 2009
In This Issue
CI Development Series
CI Assessment Tool
New CI Articles
Fletcher/CSI Newsletter
The Human Side of Competitive Intelligence
Competitive Intelligence

This major series on the evolution of a competitive intelligence function from its introduction to its maturity is nearing completion.

Thirteen of the fifteen articles have been completed. They contain a wealth of practical knowledge to help someone trying to develop competitive intelligence in their company.

Experienced professionals can also benefit by the many pointers and lessons learned that are described.

In every instance I am focusing on how people and relationships are the critical determinants for success.

All of these articles are on my Strategically Thinking Blog.

Here are the steps that I am covering.

1. Find The Pain
2. Get The Job
3. Tease The Vision
4. Frame The Foundation
5. Setting Some Standards
6. Introduce The Brand
7. Accumulate The Tools
8. Back To The Vision
9. Secure The Budget
10. Build The Presence
11. Expand the Brand
12. Go For the Value
13. Recruit A Staff
14. Go On The Offense
15. Evangelize The Mission
Speaking Engagements

Need a speaker on business strategy or competitive intelligence topics?

Call me.

I am available to present an effective and informative talk to your group.


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I am pleased to announce a free, comprehensive competitive intelligence assessment tool for organizations. You can use the tool to help improve the value of CI in your business. This will make your strategies much more effective.

I also have a new set of articles that can help you to add value to your strategy and competitive intelligence activities. Look for practical tips and thoughtful analysis in each article.

Finally, there will be more tools coming out in the next month to describe how competitive intelligence can directly benefit product managers, marketing people, R&D teams and general management.

I am here to help you. Call me.


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Competitive Intelligence Organizational Assessment Tool
This diagnostic checklist is a tool designed to help organizations evaluate the current state of their competitive intelligence activities. The question sets are divided into 10 categories.

There are a number of assumptions embedded in the format and questions.
  • Competitive intelligence serves senior management and strategy leaders.
  • Competitive intelligence makes an important difference in quality of strategies.
  • Competitive intelligence delivers recognized value to decision makers.
  • Competitive intelligence leads to concrete actions.
  • Competitive intelligence pays back the investment.
  • Competitive intelligence increases its value over time.
The results from this survey can be used for broad or narrow improvements to the competitive intelligence efforts of a company. The broad improvements may be indicated when there are many weak areas or when there are significant, recognized missed opportunities or surprises. The narrow improvements are likely to be applicable to organizations that already have a substantial competitive intelligence effort or that lack the resources to tackle broad improvements.

I can help you interpret the results and make a plan customized for your goals and resources.

Check out the survey online or download a PDF version.
New Articles
Found in the Translation
Within CI, the most important translations that occur are "company cultural." That is, what is it about another company that directs it activities, influences its decision making and ultimately affects how it competes? What is about their cultural DNA that leads toward one thing and away from another, that governs the level of risk that they can tolerate, the determines the goals that they aspire to and empowers them to accomplish what is important to them? Knowing these answers gives an outsider (i.e., a competitive intelligence professional) great insight into what might be coming next for the company. The translation occurs when you take those cultural signals and make them relevant to your competitive actions.

CI: Telling Hard Truths
Competitive intelligence roles will require courage from you for five simple reasons.
  1. You will possess insights that may challenge the positions of important people in your company.
  2. Your recommendations and observations may suggest or imply the need for changes in the current strategies.
  3. Your interpretations may inspire intense debates from strong willed people.
  4. Sometimes you may be wrong and others may use the memory of your mistakes against you.
  5. You may see some things sooner and clearer than those that have responsibility for the associated strategy.
Check Your Sparkplugs
Suppose we forget to check on what the competition is doing or we poorly understand the overall competitive environment. When this happens, the organization begins to misfire. There are 10 signs to look for that indicates such misfires.

Questions, Changes and Answers
What can you learn about a business by their competitive intelligence questions? Here are some ideas.
  • If they have no questions, something is frightfully wrong about the business.
  • If they have good questions that regularly aren't answered, perhaps they are missing something.
  • If they have the good questions and their answers, it may be that the awareness of the answers is poor.
  • If they have the answers and share them, the final hurdle is sometimes lack of action.
  • If a business actually acts it may not make the link between the original question and the impetus to move.
The Excellent Case for "Maybe"
Here are five ways to recognize that the common answers are stale in your organization.
  1. Everyone knows the same answer.
  2. Few can recall the original question.
  3. The answers bear little relationship to what is currently happening.
  4. No one can answer the "it depends on what" question.
  5. The common answers motivate no useful actions.
"Maybe" makes it possible to have discussions again to challenge what we know and think about the competitive environment. "Maybe" keeps up humble about complexity and open to learning important new things.
Fletcher CSI
Fletcher/CSI Newsletter Article
My article about the "5 Reasons that Companies Don't Improve Competitive Intelligence" was published in the July edition of the The Competitive Intelligence Report from Fletcher/CSI. This is a nationwide newsletter highlighting important topics for competitive intelligence.

Here is a link to their newsletter.
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