Meet August Jackson, Competitive Intelligence Podcast King!

AugustJacksonI first met August Jackson several years ago when he was leading the Washington, DC SCIP chapter. Since then he has taken the program lead for SCIP annual conferences, a monumental task, and is one of the profession’s leading edge users of social media, which he openly shares. I was honored earlier this month when he interviewed me for a podcast on cooperative intelligence. I shared a lot of examples from my experience in sales, and relationship building to create a competitive intelligence process at Bell Atlantic, now part of Verizon. The first 20 minutes is all about how I got into the field of competitive intelligence since I wanted to win more deals as a sales person. The cooperative intelligence discussion starts after that, and consumes most of the rest of the podcast—the last 40 minutes. The right people connections and effective communication are what separate best in class competitive intelligence operations from the rest that rely too heavily on digital monitoring in its many forms and are less sensitive as to how people want to be communicated with.

As August was interviewing me I had the feeling that he had done a lot of podcasts! Check out his podcast postings which go back to 2005. I’ve selected some of my favorites, but there are more!

CI 2020 with Arik Johnson (2009)
Eric Garland the Futurist (2009)
Suki Fuller on Social Networking (2009)
Adrian Alvarez on CI in Latin America (2006)
Alessandro Comai: Mapping & Anticipating the Competitive Landscape (2007)
Roger Phelps on LinkedIn (the podcast) (2007)
Ben Gilad on Strategic Early Warning and Blindspots, & David Hartmann on Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (the podcast) (2006)

You can read August’s blog.  He shared a nice slide deck on competitive analysis in his blog on Sept 17th, from his lecture at Johns Hopkins.

August is a Senior Consultant and specialist in competitive market intelligence and analysis at Verizon Business. His area of expertise is emerging IT and communication (ICT) technologies and their impact on business. Working in the private sector as a competitive intelligence manager with British Telecommunications, AT&T and MCI, he created competitive intelligence materials to support executive scenario planning, to turn insights from sales cycles into priorities and recommendations for operational and product development; maintained industry, technology and competitor profiles for diverse audiences.

August has provided technology trend analysis which guided major strategic decisions, and has developed profiles and delivered training globally. He is also recognized as an expert in the application of advanced secondary research methods including social media in competitive intelligence practice. Just look at his podcast collection and download most of them here!

August holds an Executive MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H Smith’s School of Business and earned a BA Cum Laude from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. August can be reached at jackson.august at

Real-time Collaborative Architectural Modeling Enhances Complex Product Development

Bryan Moser spoke to our Denver PDMA (Product development Management Association) chapter about the value of models such as the one his company, Global Project Design (GPD) developed  to forecast, optimize, allocate and measure coordination in complex product development projects. These models take into account different cultures, time zones, language barriers, and dispersed decision-making. They also incorporate engineering behavior among different cultures based on their typical interaction.

Today there is pressure to succeed in a dramatically concurrent fashion, which increases the risk of rework, quality and design. The thinning of the workforce affects production as does the loss of deep knowledge and connection from workers who have been laid off or who have retired. Another finding in these complex product development initiatives is that the cost of coordination is high and is on average 30%-35% of the time consumed.

Bryan walked us through the example of the Sikorsky S92 helicopter product development project. Their biggest concern was defending their intellectual property as they selected companies in various countries to work as an integrated team. The team was spread across the globe in countries such as Brazil, Taiwan, Spain, China and Japan, and included big company names such as Embraer of Brazil and Taiwan Aerospace, for example. Sikorsky USA was the decision-making company.

Sikorsky had predicted that it would take 5 years from product spec to prototype development. It took 9 years, and GPD’s model prediction was only off by 2 months from the actual time. Sikorsky hadn’t taken into account the dynamics that would add considerable time to product development, such as coordination, culture, language, time zones, and a lot of dead time that one team would experience if another was late in delivery, for example.

We can’t turn the clock back on product development since the expertise for various segments of complex product development is best served by a global team. However, putting on a nationalist hat, previously teams all worked for one company, in similar time zones and had strong connection and communication since they all spoke the same language, and could develop products more expeditiously from having worked together extensively over the years. This is lost in these complex product development projects where people who have never worked together, are thrust together to develop a product.

This real time collaborative model takes into account the various languages and points of view, and the time needed to build relationships with people who have never worked together before.

One of the key findings for these complex projects is that there is a fair amount of wasted time as work time averages:

~54% Direct Work
~30% Coordination
~16% Less Useful Time

The key takeaway is that coordination is often way underestimated in these complex product development projects across multiple countries. It’s better to run the model earlier in the process, so as to re-schedule or re-work pieces to reduce the less productive coordination time. GPD’s model is agent based on simulation models about how teams make choices and includes the last 30-40 years of research of behaviors in engineering work.

In conclusion, product development professionals face:

A decline in judgment based on experience alone. Traditional centralized and detailed plans ignore and misrepresent the complexity of projects.

Coordination – Interaction of teams to satisfy dependence across subsystems can be 35% of the effort, cost and duration of these development projects.

Choosing the best coordination architecture can lead to a 20% improvement in time/cost performance and will improve your competitiveness! Judgment through situation awareness is also gained.

Are Associations Going the Way of Print Media?: Part II

Association chapters, the grass roots of associations, are often the step-children in the association world since they don’t produce revenue, and many don’t even break even. I think that is particularly true using the traditional model, especially if the association centrally controls chapters versus letting them run themselves.

In today’s world the high cost of in-person chapter meetings has resulted in much lower attendance. Chapter leadership often runs in-person meetings using the same format in the same location year after year. We are certainly guilty of that in our Denver SCIP (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) chapter, which I really hadn’t thought about until I did the research to analyze the location of our members. About half of us work in Boulder and the Northern Denver suburbs, so are not keen on trekking into Denver where we hold our meetings. We have never hosted a Boulder meeting, and then again none of our Boulder members has volunteered to host. They probably didn’t realize that half of us are there!

Recently a few of us put our heads together to start adapting our chapter meeting venue to the reality of today’s dispersed and busy workforce. We are co-hosting a meeting with the Denver APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals) chapter on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. where people will have 3 choices for connection:

1. In person business meeting: 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Ballard Spahr, LLP
1225 17th Street, Suite 2300 Denver, CO  80202
Cost:  $10 (pay on-site or register through SCIP)

2. Webinar Business Meeting: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Dimdim Webinar: RSVP, and include name, SCIP/APMP member or guest and David Shipley will email you instructions from Dimdim.
Cost: None

3. Social Meeting: 4:40 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (or later…)
Location: Prime Bar
1515 Arapahoe Street Denver, CO  80202
(One block away from Ballard Spahr) RSVP: renaylor at
Cost: You pay for your drinks & snacks

The presentation “From CI to the Opportunity: Practical Steps to Winning!”
addresses the competitive intelligence (CI) process and how to use CI to get to the “First Place”—that is winning more business!

Folks are invited to attend any of these venues. If you don’t have time for the meeting, you can meet us at Prime Bar. We are hoping to engage our members by giving them more choices for connection, and the additional cross-pollination between SCIP and APMP members. Just in case you’re interested, here is the detail for things like registration, speakers, etc.

So what are you doing to engage participation and cooperation among your membership at the local association level? We’re considering a LinkedIn Group, a Ning group, or starting a Denver chapter within the already existing CI Ning group. We will Tweet on Twitter about our local meetings under #denverci. Our virtual space will provide 24/7 communication and we will help our members find work through job postings there too.

In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I am forming a Denver group around intelligence collaboration to include people who are not full-time CI practitioners. For example your job might be in product management, sales, marketing, forecasting, strategic planning or mining information, but intelligence collection and analysis is part of your job. If you’re interested, please contact me at renaylor at and I’ll include you in our future events.

BTW, this is similar to the intelligence collaboration instigated by futurist Eric Garland  on our CI Ning which I invite you to join.

Key Insights to Be a Better Leader in Today’s World

leadershippanelists2009DenIn the spirit of cooperative intelligence I am sharing my takeaways from this workshop on leadership sponsored by Denver-based Sustainable Business Group, a leadership and management consulting firm led by Herb Rubenstein.

Wayne Nelson, Chief Strategist at Anderson Professional Systems Group kicked off the meeting with a discussion about emotional intelligence, telling us the 5 components of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill from Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.

What I found even more interesting was his discussion about 6 leadership styles:

Coercive – Tight control over things. “Do what I tell you.”
Authoritative – Build the vision. “Get people to follow where you need to go.”
Affiliative – Promote harmony, cooperation. “Puts people first, tasks second.”
Democratic – Builds on group consensus. “So what do you think?”
Pacesetting – Intent on setting high performance standards. “Do as I do it.”
Coaching – Develop the team or individual for the future. “Try this: How can I support you?”

We all have a tendency towards a particular leadership style.  A good manager is flexible and uses the right style to be effective at the appropriate time. It’s also good to employ people whose styles you lack to keep balance in the workplace.

Jennifer Churchill of Opus Leadership Group focused on talent retention.

She suggests 3 key areas to promote talent retention:
1. Senior Management must be involved (acquisition/retention of top talent)
2. Conduct a gap analysis of your company’s talent to find what’s missing
3. Strong leaders attract and retain strong talent (management by example)
So know yourself and the kind of leader you are.

Kevin Asbjörnson, Founder and Principal Performing Artist of Inspire! Imagine! Innovate!  brought a global aspect to leadership. Music is a global language and inspires whole person leadership by getting us to use the right side of our brain and connect both sides of the brain to bring leadership balance and passion. One take-away for me was that Empathy is the foundation of emotional intelligence regardless of your culture. I had thought it was Self-Awareness. As a behind the scenes primary researcher I am an ‘off the chart’ empath, and don’t think of myself as a leader. I look forward to hearing and experiencing Kevin’s piano performance around leadership. Somehow we didn’t have room for a Yamaha at our session!

Inevitably, the topic of social networks came up in the context of emotional intelligence as people reach out for connection in cyberspace. I have the idea that social networks have taken off since the workplace has become lonely. Gone are the days when a product team meets in the company cafeteria. We work remotely from each other all too often with a lack of leadership and weak connection. We have this human need to connect and cooperate and help each other out. This is increasingly achieved through connections made via social networks!

I liked the saying that Herb shared with us, “Nobody cares what you know until they know you care.” That’s good to keep in mind when you’re connecting, whether through the old fashioned ways of in-person meetings, telephone and email; or the various forms of social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Keep that communication two-way and listen!

Tips on Setting up a Competitive Intelligence Process

I was recently asked by a prospective client to summarize how I could help his company develop and implement a competitive intelligence process. While I tend to follow certain steps in setting up a CI process, I was taken aback since this company’s industry is such a specialized niche within financial services, and I am not a “one size fits all” consultant.

Here are some of the takeaways that apply to any industry:

Determine the most important areas to track and analyze or what we in competitive intelligence refer to as Key Intelligence Topics (KITs). You can’t focus on everything or you won’t do anything well. Within in that, focus on the most essential KIT immediately and make a big splash within your company. Your company executives and marketing people will have a lot of good ideas about KITs, but don’t just rely on them. Ask people in other functional areas so you gain balance and aren’t blindsided.

Don’t forget to market and position your CI initiative. Start by letting people know what CI is: what you do and don’t do and set up ethical boundaries. Nobody owes you anything in the busy workplace. Present CI in the context of what they do and how you can help them, and that will go a long way to gaining their cooperation. Create a logo so people can readily identify what you send them by its look, and share only quality stuff and not too often.

I think most companies are close to parity when it comes to conducting secondary research, that is monitoring competitors, market trends including and all the components of the STEEP analysis:


However, where excellent companies stand out is in connecting with people who are responsive both inside and outside their companies across a variety of disciplines. The initial challenge is to locate these connections, and then keep track of them as they move to different areas within your company, leave your company, or start at your company. It’s even more of a challenge to track your external contacts. I use both ACT!, a great contact database to keep track of my contacts, as well as Outlook.

If you establish cooperative relationships and disciplined communication with relevant people you will have a competitive advantage. You will keep your network informed and over time, those people you connect with will think to inform you when they find nuggets that they know you value.

Trade shows are often overlooked as a means to obtain competitive intelligence and so much more. Dig into your company’s trade show strategy and engage those who are attending to become collectors of CI. Sales is often conducting some form of win loss analysis, and is a great conduit to your customers, a great source of CI if recorded.

Lastly, don’t forget your competitors are collecting against you, which we call counterintelligence. Influence your company to take steps to protect your company’s important information like R&D, product development & intellectual property.

For lots more detail about setting up a CI process, I suggest you buy SCIP’s intelligence guide book, Starting a Competitive Intelligence Function.

Find out how we can work with you to develop a competitive intelligence program.

Win/Loss Analysis book gives you a process to learn why you’re losing business and how to keep more of it!

Receive our 6-page Win/Loss Cheat Sheets

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Gain Cooperative Intelligence through ‘Being There’


Cooperative Leadership

‘Being There’ is what I think of when I think ‘cooperative leadership’. Offer colleagues the opportunity to lean on you, and learn how to lean on them. We often forget to ask people for their help in our anxiety to please and be helpful. Be specific with your request for help. This allows the other person to quickly judge if s/he can help you or refer you to someone else.

People with strong social capital are often cooperative leaders whose expertise, connections, opinions and contributions are respected by others. Social capital is not earned by a job title, but rather through the earned respect of others. In competitive intelligence social capital is valued, when positioning and communicating with fellow employees, especially executives. Remember it takes time to build those relationships, and sometimes we’re impatient to get respect before we’ve earned it.

Ulla describes another cooperative leadership practice. Take a stand confidently and refuse to bend in the face of criticism or opposition. Cooperative leaders “just do it” without a safety net. Ulla shares her experience of convincing a manager of the need for a program at a local educational institute, which she then created. She “did it” because she thought it needed doing.

Cooperative Connection

Work constantly to strengthen your networks. Always ask yourself, “Who else should be part of this conversation?”  Remember that people who could benefit from your knowledge need to learn about your expertise. Communicate in person or electronically with your peers and managers at work or by presenting at relevant meetings, trade shows or through teaching. Share your discoveries, experiences and opinions electronically through websites, blogs, social media or formal publications.

I love how Ulla ends her article by suggesting that you make it a priority to undertake actions and responsibilities that are above and beyond the call of duty. You can do this because you have others to lean on.

Ulla de Stricker, 2007 chair of SLA’s Leadership and Management Division, is a Toronto-based information and knowledge management consultant. She speaks regularly about career-related matters and writes about information and knowledge management on her blog. Her book, Business Cases for Info Pros: Here’s Why, Here’s How, was published in 2008 by Information Today, Inc. Here is a list of her publications. Contact Ulla.

Honoring Edward “Ted” Kennedy: Cooperative Statesman

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” While this quote came from his older, brother, former President John F. Kennedy, I believe Ted Kennedy lived this quote for at least the 47 years that he was a senator from Massachusetts.

He was the epitome of cooperative leadership both in his personal and professional lives. I was moved by the personal account from Teddy Jr as he recounted his dad’s resolve as 12 year old TJ fell down a slick hill, having lost a leg to cancer. His father said, “I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can’t do. We’re going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.”

As the youngest sibling in his family he developed emotional intelligence and patience that gave him great success in politics as he was a master in communication, bartering, persuasion and negotiation. Charles Campion recalls, “His greatest legacy was his own faith and unwavering beliefs. He followed his own compass, and regardless of the polls and even his own political vulnerabilities, he would never compromise or finesse on his principles.”

He battled for those who had weak representation among lobbyists championing civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ issues, immigration reform, health-care and education reform and the environment. He sponsored a long list of bills for these causes, and walked both sides of the aisle for their support. For example, it was no coincidence that President Bush called on Ted for support in passing the “No Child Left Behind” education bill. Only weeks after his brain tumor was diagnosed, he left his hospital bed to vote for legislation blocking deep cuts in Medicare payments to doctors.

He was incredibly connected on so many fronts, and there were high expectations of his involvement ranging from the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s JFK School of Government, his family, his staffers, his Senatorial initiatives and so much more…

I also appreciate his strong connection with the public and the issues affecting our nation, and attribute this to his hiring an incredible staff over his 47 years as a senator. I often think it was his experience with pain and suffering and the mistakes he made along the way—that kept him in touch—empathetic to other’s plights and connected to the public and to his family. I also believe his strong Catholic faith contributed to his listening and caring, and his tireless efforts to support issues he thought were important with conviction.

I love how he was a cooperative communicator right to the end of his life. During his final illness he finished writing True Compass (to be published on September 14), which he worked closely with Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Powers to assemble. In this book, he makes a strong and personal plea for health-care reform, the culmination of his life’s work.

President Obama called Ted Kennedy, the “greatest senator of our time.” He leaves behind a legacy that few in public life will ever achieve. On the Labor Day weekend, I salute you Edward Kennedy, a man who labored hard and with integrity as a champion of the poor, downtrodden and dispossessed.

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