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Why Cooperative Intelligence? An Extreme Presentation

Recently, I wrote about the Extreme Presentation format for presenting material to smaller audiences. At the conclusion of that post, I gave an example of how Extreme Presentation looks. Several people have asked me to give another illustration with an example in competitive intelligence or research, since that’s usually what I write about.

Below is a one-page Extreme Presentation that I prepared for SCIP’s 2007 Annual Conference, just after attending Dr. Andrew Abela’s Extreme Presentation workshop. My objective was to define what cooperative intelligence is, how it works, and how you win by using it. You will notice that there are about 5 “charts” contained in this one page, and that it is not flashy.  You can also tell by looking at the page that I will be talking about a process.

I like this communication method for getting the conversation going in smaller meetings as it provides an outline of what I want to cover. As a presenter you really have to know your material since you don’t have a deck of PowerPoint slides to read from. As an attendee, you are more likely to process what’s being communicated and interact since you aren’t being flooded with one slide after the next which puts you into the passive roles observing and watching.

I had prepared a 25 page PowerPoint for this 1 hour talk, and provided this one-page Extreme Presentation as a handout. Attendees could download the deck later. I had about 100 attendees and noticed that very few people left the room even though my talk was the last one of the day.  Use your creativity with Extreme Presentation, and use it at office meetings instead of nothing or lengthy PowerPoints. You will be amazed at how you engage meeting attendees, and get something accomplished versus putting it off yet again!


Competitive Intelligence Ethics

I recently spoke with a consultant who was facing an interesting dilemma. Her firm had led the initiative behind a major technology roll out for a big company. One of their competitors was talking with her about competitive intelligence. Being conscientious, she was concerned that this could be ethically challenging.

Another key issue was trust. If the key competitor found out she worked for the other firm, even though the gig would be helping them set up a process, not competitor research, would they lose trust?

It’s Your Reputation

It takes many years to build a credible business that you need to consider building and maintaining relationships continuously. It’s easy enough for people to misinterpret what you’re doing which causes your reputation to sink. We face these issues often in the field of competitive intelligence.

Competitive Intelligence Is Not Competitor Intelligence

Competitive intelligence is often misunderstood. This consultant had immediately translated competitive intelligence into COMPETITOR intelligence. After we spoke for a while, I found out that there were a number of competitors in her client’s marketplace.

Competitive intelligence is about staying competitive, so there are a whole host of other factors that keep you competitive.

It’s easy to fall into the competitor trap. Here are few things to keep in mind about competitive intelligence. Much of my time is helping companies with market opportunity analysis, that is finding ways to make more money or perhaps studying the marketplace to find out that an opportunity we believed would be lucrative, is a money loser.

A popular competitive intelligence tool is STEEP analysis where you consider the macro environment that you compete in, how it is shifting, and how you might shape it to maintain your leadership. My colleague, Futurist Erik Garland gives a great explanation of STEEP.

S = social trends

T= technology trends

E = economic trends

E = ecological trends

P = political trends

Porter’s 5 Forces is an industry analytical tool used in competitive intelligence that looks at competitors, substitute products, potential new competitors, customers and suppliers and the relative influence and power of each in your industry.

Competitive intelligence folks also talk to numerous internal and external people to learn about the marketplace, and the competitors are only 1 small piece. I spend more time studying customers’ needs, and feel that the sales force is one of a company’s richest sources of competitive intelligence since they are talking to customers every day, learning not only about the competition, but enabling product development with products and services customers will pay for. They hear about new technology, innovation and rumors about political changes that could threaten your company’s sales success, and so much more once you make the connection into their collective and individual wisdom.

Back to Competitive Intelligence Ethics

I don’t work for competing firms if I’m doing competitor research/analysis work, and have not worked for competitors when setting up a CI process. If I’m asked to research a competitor I refer the business to another firm. How do you weigh in on this?

Here is an article, Timeless Advice for Making a Hard Choice, by Joseph L. Badaracco of HBR Online. This gives a broader perspective on ethics in business.

Win/Loss Analysis book gives you a process to learn why you’re losing clients and how to keep more business! Competitive Intelligence ethics lives here.
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