Thursday, December 31, 2009

CI professionals come in all shapes & sizes

I think I found my calling in life. Learning to blend in to go unnoticed!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stretching a metaphor

So I have a new dog. A Giant Schnoodle puppy. Complete ADD case. Everything is fascinating, distracting, confusing for him and he wants everyone to like him. Has much to learn and much to teach. Reminds me of what it's like to walk into a new organization to try to make a difference with CI skills when the information world is out of control with data and perspectives you must find and sift. No surprise the first two commands are "sit" and "no!!!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Childlike CI Sales

It's about the magic of the story really. To wit, my wife cares for a 8 or 9 year old girl in the mornings...gets her off to school. I'll call her Brittany. Brittany is completely enthralled/enthrallable still with the mystery of Christmas. Her house has a gas fireplace without a chimney. Question came up: How does Santa get down our chimney? Answer: He twitches his nose with his index finger and shazzaam he becomes a little tiny Christmas mouse and comes in anywhere's he wants...under doors, gas fireplace flues, etc. Result: Astonishment and instant identification with this and a little ego involvement so that she instantly went off on her on story about how she and one of her friends had seen him do it, had personal experience of same. She was in the moment. Lost in wonder. Made it her own.

Can you tell a good enough story for that A-type personality you have to sell it so they have to have it too and can boast that they can/are doing same. It's just a different mystery isn't it. Need some good stories? Contact me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Consulting and homemakers

I'm back. While I consider consulting to be a successful avocation (so far this year I've scoped out a new way of driving business to a major hospital, done a cultural comparo for an acquiree of their expected acquisitor, prospected medical devices, built business plans for a couple of small/medium businesses), it's also true there are periods of "business development" when little income is coming in.

This causes me to understand in a fresh new way what it is like to work so hard at being a homemaker (stay at home mom or dad) and to receive so little recognition. Doubly so perhaps to be a CI Consultant as companies/clients continue to struggle with understanding the value of what we do and we continue struggling with how to "sell" it and make it come to life. I like the way Sara Chi talks about "it". She calls herself a "Corporate Information Optimizer" - see her thoughtful posts on Twitter (Infosara).

It's good to be back.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CI or die

Failure is always an option. I consider this blog a failure and am closing shop for now. Probably emerge elsewhere in the blogosphere at later date.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CI - metaphors (Black Egret)

Black Egret. CI technique. Provocative metaphor:

Black egrets arrange their feathers into a canopy to attract fish as the core way of finding food. How many fish are you attracting in your research? Is your shade appealing? Peer intently under your umbrella. Of course, you have to peruse the waters' edges that have real fish.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CI -Economic gardening: a role for government agencies in competitive intelligence

Please see great post and insight at the following:

It is very clear to me from involvement in local SW Ohio business development efforts, both in bringing new companies to the area and also in growing firms organically, that much more needs to be done.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CI - be a Tiger

I liked the AP story posted this a.m. about Tiger Woods helping fellow golfer Sean O'Hair with his putting. For CI'rs it's always about finding info that is hard to find and helping others make better decisions. Within your company/organization, it's important to be always teaching and showing the how-to's. Need as many DIY's as you can muster. Same true across the marketplace to a large extend. All boats rise when the tide does.,0,6356776.story

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CI - do parents inspire it

My dad passed away Monday September 14 - my 55th b-day. He was 87 and a half and lived an amazing life. His obituary is attached below if of interest. In reflecting on his life and impact on me, there are quite a number of things he taught me directly and indirectly which have made me reasonably successful at my CI craft. I am grateful and want to recognize him for teaching me and modeling for me:

1) Persistence, commitment, steadfastness, discipline, focus, choicefulness
2) Finding deeper meanings and connections
3) Ethical behavior, love for people
4) A sense of adventure and pioneering
5) Taking a stand on important issues
6) A more global worldview
7) Keeping it simple

Probably missing many attributes I will think of later, but this covers much of it.

Godspeed Ernest.

Ernest Dyck Obituary

On September 14, Rev. Ernest Henry (Peter) Dyck, passed away at Heritage Place in Virgil, Ontario and went to be with his Lord. Born April 5, 1922 in Hierschau (Ukraine) to Katarina and Peter Dyck, he came to Canada in 1926 days after his father was murdered as they prepared for departure. The family homesteaded briefly in Saskatchewan before moving to Pincher Creek, AB and later to the Fraser Valley in BC in the mid 30’s. He left school at 14 to support his mom and two older sisters near Clearbrook, BC.

At 18 he was called by God to be a missionary to Africa. For the next 11 years he finished high school and college (Winnipeg’s MB Bible College, Tabor College, KS) and prepared to go to the Belgian Congo. In 1951 he married Lydia (Lil) Elizabeth Krahn at S. Abbotsford Church in BC and left immediately to study French in preparation for work in Congo. They arrived there in 1953 via a year in Belgium where Norman was born in 1952. 1952. Son Stan arrived in 1954. In 1957, while on furlough, he completed a Masters Degree at University of Washington in Seattle returning to Congo the following year. A year later daughter Ruth arrived and shortly after in mid 1960 the whole family was forced to leave because of political and military turmoil which accompanied independence.

Returning to Canada, Ernest taught HS for a year in Coaldale, AB before agreeing to start new churches in Quebec. For 31 years he did so with great passion and was used by God to establish a half dozen congregations, a Christian camp and a Bible School. Despite a lifelong desire to return to people he loved in Congo, this was never possible other than a short visit in 1989. In 1992 he “retired” to St. Catharines, Ont. and served in various capacities at Grantham MB Church. In 2004 he and Lydia moved to Virgil.

Ernest is predeceased by his mother and 9 siblings. He leaves countless nieces and nephews mostly in Western Canada. He leaves Lydia, his wife of almost 58 years, his sons Norm and wife Trudy Schroeder, their children Nina and Katrina), Stan and wife JoAnne and their children Jeffrey, Jakob and Stephanie and daughter Ruth and her husband Jean Cusson…and many spiritual children and disciples.

Friday, September 11, 2009

CI - Ethics and Legal Practice

A senior exec, and West Point grad, once asked me if the rules of business competition had much in common with military combat. With the benefit of more hindsight I'd now say:

"Probably so if we keep the Geneva Convention in focus, but less so when we don't".

The legacy described in the following is probably not one that the CI profession really wants.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CI - What it takes to be successful

Educator John Taylor Gatto (below) profoundly reveals and reminds many truths about education. I am grateful that he says this so well. I think the attributes below are as good as any in defining success in CI.

I am grateful to my first exec boss in the CI space, Douglas Grindstaff, President of P&G Canada in the later 80's, who didn't fit the mold too well at P&G, whose marching orders were outstanding, permissive, creative: "Go and help your brands (businesses) and if you aren't do something else". That was/is the real definition of CI.


By John Taylor Gatto

New York City Teacher of the Year, 1991

A few years back one of the schools at Harvard, perhaps the School of Government, issued some advice to its students on planning a career in the new international economy it believed was arriving. It warned sharply that academic classes and professional credentials would count for less and less when measured against real world training.

Ten qualities were offered as essential to successfully adapting to the rapidly changing world of work. See how many of those you think are regularly taught in the schools of your city or state:

1) The ability to define problems without a guide.
2) The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.
3) The ability to work in teams without guidance.
4) The ability to work absolutely alone.
5) The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.
6) The ability to discuss issues and techniques in public with an eye to reaching
decisions about policy.
7) The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.
8) The ability to pull what you need quickly from masses of irrelevant data.
9) The ability to think inductively, deductively, and dialectically.
10) The ability to attack problems heuristically (common sense based on experience)"

CI - Misrepresentation and SM

ISET: Intentional schizophrenia enabling technology. SM is a goldmine for potential misrepresentation. I wonder how many false profiles are on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Just like: How many posts on Edmunds are from employees of car companies, how many posts on Cafe Pharma are from non pharmaceutical sales reps, etc. How many times have you filled out an application for a real estate search web site in another town you were interested in and used false information so that you aren't contactable. Who will your network become today?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

CI - "Duplicity"

Watched video by this name the other night (Julia Roberts, Clive Owen). It's about industrial espionage (not CI!) involving two packaged goods companies - my old stomping ground. While I have heard a lot of exotic tales, some true and some not over the years, this movie just doesn't make a lot of sense. Yes, I realize I should have left LEFT BRAIN at the door.

1) CI can never afford this degree of investment by either company. Nor is it required.
2) CEO's are not that delusional, but certainly well-advised as per the movie to keep the secret amongst the fewest number of people. (e.g. the Coke formula)
3) Lack of due diligence on the stolen "baldness cure" IP doesn't do justice to CI professionals.
4) There are generally much simpler, cheaper ways to get the information. Misrepresentation not required.

All that said, I can completely vouch first hand for the complete transparency similar companies are at risk of in terms of what competition knows about them. How's your information security environment?

I once challenged a well-qualified 3rd party, one readily available to any and all of us, to penetrate my organization without getting apprehended. They did, they got absolutely everything - fast.

Monday, August 31, 2009

CI Dog

Freddie was my best buddy for 10 years. Got him from rover rehab, a local penitentiary which trained selected dogs, to be companions for shut-ins etc. At the time my son had been very ill and we brought him home for his 11th B-day. He was a Shepherd and Retriever mix. Beautiful, kind, fun, compassionate. Well, he died yesterday. My CI dog is gone. All good CI practitioners need a CI Dog

Friday, August 28, 2009

CI and the explosion of data - managing continuity

Great article today by Pulitzer Prize winning Robert Lee Hotz in WSJ "A Data Deluge Swamps Science Historians"

Reminds me of importance of having continuity in the CI function to manage its "history" and its "data" and instinctual wisdom - notwithstanding knowledge management systems, wonderful search engines, etc.

There are countless times were a skilled CI person with longstanding leadership in this space can race past all the libraries, databases, peers to the answer if they have been in the right place long enough. What is that worth?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Customer intelligence

I have been participating in a "sales training" program. One of the key tenets is to make sure that rather than "selling" you first always try to understand the "pain" of the person you are trying to help - what makes them frustrated, angry, disappointed, concerned, or keeps them awake at night.

On the other hand, I'm still astonished in this easy-information era at how sellers (myself included) make calls without doing due diligence on who they are calling so that they have relevant conversations, ask questions close to the "pain", and have key facts about the industry, company, person.

The wrong way: Headhunter staff make up to 120 calls/day (< 4 minutes/call and prep for same!)....I've recently disconnected on several who haven't read my CV on line or my Linkedin profile. Told them to call me back when they had. When I lived the corporate world, I received an endless set of calls from information vendors and consultants trying to sell me things I didn't need. I usually handled it by describing specific problems I was working on, asking them to demonstrate how their product or service would help me with that, and how it was better or different from what I was already using. Most couldn't and didn't know respectively. Even ones dedicated to my industry. Short conversations!

You have to ultimately and early on bring to the table the honest admission that you really don't know if/how you can help them though your 45 second pitch will likely include the fact that you often help companies/clients who are feeling pain over x,y,z. Kill the slides. Inquire. Listen. Empathize.

The theory is that none of the following will help you if you don't find the pain. I see truth here, but am with-holding judgment believing that CI is always helpful in engaging highly desired customers.

Your advance CI can help by prepping you to understand (listen to) the context more accurately ahead of time.

1) Have you been to their web site and read it "cover to cover"
2) Have you researched macro trends in their industry from industry pubs, research on industry association web sites, Department of Commerce reports, Bureau of Labor Statistics data on their part of the economy
3) If large enough have you listened to their latest updates to Wall Street (slides, audio, and esp. Q&A)
4) Have you looked up significant profiles on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
5) Have you tracked their recent press releases, strategy changes, exec changes, results announcements...not just national, but very local press
6) Are their people in their networks you also know and can touch base with ahead of time
7) If it's a small business have you mapped out who their competition is on Yellow Pages, or equivalent.
8) Are their customers or consumers ones you can easily touch base with (mall intercept, SurveyMonkey)
9) Read some case studies about their industry to fill in the blanks on key dynamics.
There are numerous collections of these on-line.
10) Etc, etc.

Are you close to your selling and business development organizations if you are a CI professional? Shouldn't you be? (esp. in this economy where it's often about market share not growing markets).


Friday, August 21, 2009

CI - new places to shop for innovation

I am not an innovation expert, but I have watched this space from a new multi-faceted perspective outside of corporate American for nearly two years now. Here are some thoughts and hunches for those of you providing CI support to the R&D and innovation communities. These are things I would pursue, advocate and ask my R&D and innovation friends about. How well are they doing with:

1) Grassroots connections outside of big research labs, academia, established commercial entities in your space: Young President's Organizations, local CEO Round Tables (small firms), angel investor events where new bus ideas are presented, local incubators of all sizes, futurist institutes & alternative educators who are thinking "outside the box", transition services for people out of work (all scientists have pet projects they never got to work on)

2) Reaching out to growing rosters of inventors no longer aligned to corporate agendas...retirees or in in-transition types. YourEncore, Gerson Lehrman, Innocentive, Intota come to mind. YourEncore has a roster of 2000+ "retired" life scientist thinking, helping, looking for new challenges.

3) Replicating localized networking practiced by local legal and CPAs and commercial bankers as they "stalk" emerging businesses in the community. Join SCORE (Service Corp or Retired don't have to be retired!) to join in the free and forever counseling they offer to local business. Visit local job networking groups where innovative people are in transition and often have great ideas but lack confidence in how to pursue on their own. In my community attorneys spend 400-500+ hours of community service doing "outreach" many scientists and other innovators are doing that. Follow local innovators on their blogs and SM activities.
Identify principals or inventors at local firms and follow them.

4) Go younger. The essence of credentialing through academic degrees simply has to change with the advent of information technology and the deluge of sources and types of self-learning processes out there. No educator can keep up with and presume to "teach" beyond a certain increasingly basic level. Efforts of academicians will be increasingly stretched towards keeping up their own knowledge and applying it. Knowledge is simply growing too fast and the tools to access it and synthesize from it are completely redefining academia. More and more adjuncts are being brought in to keep it real and this will lead to further dilution of the old ways.

An increasing number of teens and twenty somethings are likely to be innovating on their own as they are forced to evolve their own ways of learning independently and sharing these with each other "outside the box". Find & sponsor these communities or create them: Junior Achievement, science fairs, community" sessions targeted on specific problems, create a micro-finance venture fund for kids, penetrate the home school community where more flexible learning can be the norm, re-purpose young game creators into other kinds of invention, encourage failure as a learning tool.

5) Leaving 'em alone. At least leave more or 'em alone. How many brilliant people come into corporate R&D environment and are completely frustrated and disillusioned with 2-3 years because they were not allowed to create, innovate when they were under the impression that is whey they were hired. Meeting more and more of them. Sure teach them how to do basic commercial assessments to be selective about what they work on and make sure they know your strategies intimately.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

CI - Good means becoming a child again

Yes I'm a heretic. Like to suggest that if you want to create great CI, watch this and think about it. CI will go the way of education. Interdisciplinary, indistinguishable from many other kinds of learning, more right brained, better choreography.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CI - Regional Bus Dev Not Defining Core Competencies

I have been poking around different parts of my local business development community for several months. It seems to me many communities are missing the boat in terms of attracting investment and innovation as well as achieving sufficient local alignment on business development strategy.

Why isn't there (maybe someone knows of a/the best source?) a directory or some kind of publication of core competencies at the local economic unit basis (county, zip, city) level which is granular enough to attract the specific entrepreneurial level of attention which leads to decisions. Should/would include areas of technical expertise in a granular way (not alternative energy, but rather wind, biodiesel, fuel cell, etc.), commercial expertise (e.g. specific skill sets within market research), and anything else that helps successfully run a business and which can't be equally easily sourced virtually.

Great project for local business schools to take on as part of providing real value added to their local communities?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

CI and a small contribution to the US healthcare debate

Ever wonder about facts vs. rhetoric of US healthcare reform debate.

The attached is well beyond anything the press, politicians, or townhalls are apparently providing. It's 65 pages but certaintly speaks to many of the issues with substantial bibliography for more study.

Worth reading to inform our townhall assertions.

Take a peak America.

Lot's of the same kinds of "Myth Busting" here that CI professionals constantly encounter.

Presenting CI - Have a conversation

Shared by SourceSaid on Twitter...good thoughts:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CI - the pitfalls of reverse engineering products

When I first started doing CI, an early task was comparing product costs of ours to theirs. Seems sensible right? If they consistently make theirs for less and sell for same price, over time they "win". This is especially important in industry like FMCC where product cost as percent of selling price is substantial, but much less important in industries like pharmaceuticals where it often isn't.

Try these steps/answer these questions:

1) Do you have a current and representative sample of competitors product across regions, product dates, supply points, channels of distribution, etc. Especially important to track supply cycle and purchasing practices if product cost is tied to a highly variable commodity cost...why was Southwest Airlines profitable in 2008 and almost no one else was (they bought crude oil futures)

2) Don't let anyone (in our case it was the junior Financial Analysts) person who doesn't know how you actually make something calculate it. Should be someone who was/is in the business of making these kinds of products and had lots of experience modeling them or was close enough to the technical communities to be able to figure out ranges of accuracy. Form a team or network if you need to.

3) Calculate & analyze in the context of how competition makes it and the supply chain which supports- not how you do it. Often their products are made in a fundamentally different way than yours. This means you first need a deep understanding of their supply points/suppliers and the bio-chemical-mechanical-electrical-IT processes involved. Is their supply chain different...are they more vertically integrated? How important are they to any one supplier and what is condition of supplier? How do they purchase? How do they inventory? How efficient are they? How long/much do they use assets and in what condition are they? How much do they pay people and what is their organization structure? How do they allocate overheads among products? Do they have exclusive supply agreements on any precursor materials (probably cost them more?). Energy and utility costs vary from place to place. Tax structures and incentives vary.

4) Think about the product from a design and R&D perspective. Make sure you look at the inherent trade-offs that are made in the context of market demand and supply chain pricing of precursor materials. In some industries product spec is often tweaked to reflect pricing environment of materials, purchasers needs, competition, etc. Things are often dynamic vs. static. Some things depend on judgement vs. fact. While this has evolved in the past number of years, in my early days perfume costs in FMCC were estimated by the noses of experienced perfumers. Result turned out to be w/i only about 50% accuracy which led in a couple of instances to strategically flawed conclusions.

5) Often times people are assuming economic order quantities which ignore the fact(s) that an ingredient or part that goes into a specific competitor product is also purchased on a much larger scale across multiple businesses or products.

6) Try to break costs out by sku, variant, model to see where their leverage is.

7) Test the end result against market behavior over time.. Does their pricing behavior align with your conclusions? Is their marketing spend consistent with what your model says they can afford? How quickly do they retool or that consistent with the asset base/capability you have assumed?


CI experts?

Doesn't your job as a CI expert seem to be to learn about and connect anything, anywhere, anytime? When people get stuck with figuring "IT" out, don't they come to you or someone like you?

While I realize at any point in time, the remit is much more focused, the essence of CI is increasingly broad and losing definition. Like me, you are seeing discussions of this on numerous blogs, at SCIP, and at your place of (dis)employment.

Expertise is increasingly like herding cats.

You perhaps increasingly resemble the local politician running for and trying to stay in office - or the small business owner. In a world where knowledge is doubling in days, as is the technology for managing and manipulating that, where work is being virtualized, and the essential organization is splintering into more external links or offshore connections as partners/suppliers, you still get to manage "ALL" of it.

Some things to consider doing:

1) Put multi-experienced, interdisciplinary thinkers in these roles.

2) Emphasize a democratic approach wherein the "CI" leader needs to tap the full capability and participation of the organizations they serve.

3) Because "CI" people have to be multidisciplinary to be successful (beyond their functional peers), make sure they are deeply involved in innovation.

4) Create experiential learning for the community you serve...ideation, scenario planning and war gaming, convene real/virtual panels of external experts, multi-functional centers of excellence on specific competitors

5) Volunteer with not-for-profit or business development entities in the community to get a broader perspective and extend your network - and learn to herd cats.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Repost - "Is branding dead"

To discuss with your marketing customers - Is branding dead?

Courtesy of tweet from Franz Dill (his blog is EponymousPickle - highly recommend)

franzdRT @rogerdooley: Is Branding Dead? New at Neuromarketing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CI as duct tape

Ever watch the Canadian comedy series (eh!) The Red & Green Show? of my new American friends always bring that up when they discover how I say my "o's" and once they realize I'm not from Minnesota.

This show demonstrates amazing makeshift problem solving and technical solutions often times using a large dose of duct tape - a sticky, strong, simple, flexible product.

Duct tape is a great metaphor: easy to find, easy to connect A to B, layers make it stronger, easy to shape, can use for many things (Strategy, Bus Dev, Innovation, Operational Improvements, Marketing Tactics, etc.), comes in basic gray color so it may not stand out, etc.

It's a grass roots, democratic tool anyone can use so get your entire organization doing it. Don't wait for expensive solutions. Rig up back-woods systems that get all the information flowing to you (called relationships), experiment with sticking A to B in different scenarios, and by all means have some fun while you are at it.

I can think of far worse fates than to be called "the duct work guy".

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some CI on Innovation from Education

Might it be said that the same problems with standardized education are the ones that also restrict innovation in many settings? Parentheses are mine.

“The logical conclusion is that we need multiplicity in our teaching (innovation) styles to match and map to these varied learning (innovating) styles. But this isn't possible.... standardization in the teaching process -- in direct conflict to the customization needed by the learners (innovators) . “

Perhaps the only hope for the future of CI, innovation, and education is interdisciplinary studies which are loose, non-standard and self-tailored.


CI - are u creating a social epidemic

Was reading the following on Wikipedia about Malcolm Gladwell's tipping point and thought it very germane to CI community. See:


"The three rules of epidemics

Gladwell describes the "three rules of epidemics" (or the three "agents of change") in the tipping points of epidemics.

* "The Law of the Few", or, as Gladwell states, "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts."[4] According to Gladwell, economists call this the "80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the 'work' will be done by 20 percent of the participants."[5] These people are described in the following ways:

* Connectors are the people who "link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together."[6] They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances". [7] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people... Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to "their ability to span many different worlds [... as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy."[8]

* Mavens are "information specialists", or "people we rely upon to connect us with new information."[9] They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Gladwell cites Mark Alpert as a prototypical Maven who is "almost pathologically helpful", further adding, "he can't help himself"... As Gladwell states, "Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know".[13]

* Salesmen are "persuaders", charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

CI & What is your 9/11

Started reading Pulitzer Prize book "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" today by Lawrence Wright - about decades of events leading up to 9/11.

This is a potent case study and reminder of the human factors/profiling to be assessed in most fully understanding "competition" AND the challenges sometimes of getting anyone to believe you and take action.

The original FBI discoverer of the plot had pieced together the shape of what was coming five years before 9/11.

Suggest you read a couple of chapters ( Used on Amazon about $7.50.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CI - Google VP on why innovation level in recession can be better

Two reasons:

1) No lack of people/ideas when more people are looking for work. Bigger labor/IP supply available to you at lower cost. Most of your assets are people: hire the great resources others are laying off. Believe I posted previously on study by McKinsey showing that winning companies spend more than competition on innovation during recessions.

2) Less capital....fewer get funded (e.g. McDonalds, Apple, Crispy Creme came through this)so stakes are higher. The ones that get funded tend to be really breakthrough. In Cincinnati currently per on source close to A round funding, the ratio of funding is 1/4 what it used to be a few months ago. Higher probability that buying IPO stock during recession will pay off for you?

see video clip from BNET @:

CI in biopharma a harbinger, dinosaur, new cultivar

In my last corporate experience in Pharma I realized that CI was in some sense becoming either a dinosaur or a new cultivar.

If what I saw happen in the biopharma space is characteristic of your industry, maybe biopharma is a harbinger for you - anticipate change.

Here's what I saw in the middle part of this decade.

1) Many things were partnered in R&D and also in-market. That meant two sets of resources - generally too many
2) Lot's of M&A meant less CI folks needed
3) The fundamental need for more discontinuous strategy meant competition in some sense was less important
4) The quality of outsourced services suddenly rose exponentially behind new services offered in the CI space. This was especially true of new databases which offered terrific value, content with consulting, and easy-to-use enterprise wide information platforms which democratized most of the CI exercise across the entire of the direct implications of which was everyone suddenly claimed to own CI


CI is not passive

CI is never primarily about responding. That happens when inexperience and disrespect happens. Now I understand you can't always choose your job. Sometime you get appointed. But if CI is going to be about responding, move on asap. CI is about figuring out what is important to the success of your organization and steadfastly and ingeniously delivering it.

You must find the critical knowledge gaps and fill them no matter what. Instant customer satisfaction and repeat business follow. That's why CI is best done by people with longer term multi-functional industry experience and networks.

I never understand it when folks with only a couple of years experience in an industry and only one business and/or function are appointed. What am I missing?

My first CI boss, a senior manager at a Fortune 100 company, said "Go out and help the business and if you aren't do something else"...what a great description of CI. He wanted action not dusty reports.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

CI in political forums

Seems to me now would be a good time for CI experts to apply their skills to political discourse using social media. Am seeing a whole lot of garbage out there misrepresenting the "facts" and accomplishing no more than political rhetoric. For example, no matter what you think about US health care debate on the Hill right now, would be good to carefully analyze so much of misrepresentation out there.

CI can balance out the conveniently omitted facts the polarized sides leave out. We can help others hone their skills in this space to find a balanced set of "facts" and to distinguish the quality of one link from another.(a simple example is the alleged 46mm Americans without health care...a bunch of those choose not to have it; yes I realize there is an issue about what happens when those uninsured get sick and can't pay and the rest of us taxpayers & insurance premium payers pick up the slack directly or indirectly)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

CI - Ringleader of the ultimate team sport

For the last 20 years I spent in the corporate world, I didn't have an organization - which is great because I hated managing that stuff. In CI I was IT.

Arguably I served the biggest customer list of just about anyone. I had the whole sales force. I had the whole R&D organization. I had all the commercial functions. I worked across 25 different businesses. I had all the consultants and access to an enormous number of knowledgeable people on the "outside". In each case everyone was both supplier and customer. You simply make them better and they always reciprocate in helping you better connect the dots.

I worked on/in all the processes: the forecast, the pipeline, the strategy, work systems and decision processes, qualifying product initiatives, scoping out new markets, the go-to-market plans, even keeping prying eyes/ears out.

What a simple, engaging, lifelong learning opportunity. Guess that is why I'm still at it. There simply isn't anything humanly known that you can't learn give enough time, effort, resources. Could be a great future in CI:-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CI - keeping measures real/dilemmas

Followup to yesterday. Examples:

1) Competitor X uses 50% less expensive scent in a household chemical product. This is worth $10mm/year. You prove it. Product development makes the claim.
2) Competitor Y has moved 5% of its product marketing budget to e-business tools and you know mix of them. Your marketing group is thinking about 1% as the right number. They move to 3% and get 200% ROI. Product manager goes to glory.
3) Competitor Z is presumably 2 years behind you in bringing new product to market and you discover in fact they are 2 years ahead. Product development got it wrong. NPV of loss is $xB. That's how CI started in one organization.
4) Competitor A is developing a new way of dosing an established drug on faster timing than expected. You save the company 6-12 months on timeline by clearly proving this. New drug form takes 90% of the market and accelerates market growth. What's your take?
5) Competitor B's ad agency is on location in Arizona shooting new commercial for revised household product. This means that new ad will be on air in x weeks and you anticipate key message based on product technology knowledge from another part of the world. You adjust your ad flighting accordingly. They get no impact on market share.

Easy to have impact. Often harder to stay on top of your organization's response and results and to remind organization why it acted.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CI - how do you measure

The problem with measuring CI effectiveness is not that it's complicated. It's that anyone notices. At least in the work cultures I was a part of in corporate America, there is usually a "more important" organization which needs to take credit for something that benefited very directly from CI - and does so.

BUT, in the end, you simply have to carefully log what you uniquely accomplish and contribute to and make the case regularly and without fanfare. Specifically, you provide an early warning system to what competition is going to do which enables your org to react more quickly and be right more often because of the rigor time affords. You save your company tons of money by providing insights into better ways to do things (benchmarking) thereby enabling them to stop doing it the wrong way sooner. You are a key inputter to process improvement based on others you know who have "been there, done that". You help your organization get to market much more quickly and efficiently. When you know what competition is doing, it tends to focus response much more quickly vs. doing infinite scenario analysis that ties up far more resources. By uniquely articulating competitor's rationale for R&D choices, you also shape product development and innovation. Etc.

When you get it right, you build sales and market share and margin - and enter new businesses/relationships. It's that simple. And, you make sure your org does it more successfully more often. It's really no different than individuals on other successful teams who make individual claims built on team or organization success.


Friday, July 17, 2009

CI - Keep It Simple Stupid

Maybe it's just me but I think the CI world is really simple. There's a lot of common sense. Yeah the jargon helps write books and make cool models for the journals and big name consultants - and that's all good and genuinely helpful. And I realize I'm a sample size of one and a little self-absorbed, but here's what I think.

1) The best CI people are the ones with the most filters or perhaps the most diverse filters, the most perseverance, the most imagination. You need skeptical curiosity about a lot of things. For example this means, that you may need multi-functional, multi-site experience in your industry/company - international experience is probably good and getting more important. Perhaps even make sure that your background is far removed from the industry you study: a fine arts grad studying financial services industry, a mechanical engineer studying pharmaceuticals (me).

2) Democratize the filters and collectors and tie them to an hourglass. A CI person is nothing more than the one who sits at the hourglass watching all the pieces go through at the same time and trains and encourages everyone around them to identify and throw in the grains of sand that are worthwhile. But it's usually the CI person where all the grains get seen at the same time. If you have 100 people in your company and each spends 1% of their time on collecting the right CI, you suddenly have an extra FTE - that is collaboration. And, everyone of those people brings a different perspective to things, a different network, a different life experience. You likely have hoards of people looking at consumers and customers, but only you are looking at competition through this hour glass you create.

3) Value experience. The longer service folks in your industry have more stories (knowledge of history) and filters than you might realize. They also know a lot more people. They have provocative ideas no one has listened to. Find more boomers to talk with. This is also one reason why you often get better results if you keep people in CI roles longer...the learning is cumulative. It's not a project, it's a process.

4) Value the disconnected. Ever notice how appreciated your sales force feels when you directly contact them. They are out there in the middle of nowhere day in and day out. No one notices them. No one at HQ keeps them on the front lines of whats coming. And it's so easy for you to help them sell better by enabling them to know competition better and before they are known. Customer will prefer your sales person every time because they are better informed.

My musings for today.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CI in economic development

A couple of events have provoked my interest in this subject: a colleague who consults on place marketing (Ed Burghard and an article in the SCIP publication by a Dutch colleague, Barend van de Kraats@

It's interesting to me that so many jurisdictions managing tax payer funds (your money) don't do more that is strategic in terms of identifying & then pursuing clusters of businesses/industries that deserve to thrive in their communities. I am neither an economist nor a politician. Just thinking out loud.

Now, supposing you are directly or indirectly leading the economic development policies and programs for a city, region or country. Does "competititive intelligence" play a role in your world. Specifically, do you have the discipline to deeply research how other cities, regions and countries are competing for the same jobs you want to bring and to retain in your jurisdiction. And then, are you analyzing this for sources of advantage. Michael Porter wrote about this in Competitive Advantages of Nations and developed his "diamond" model to address how to think about this - see

I would propose coming at this in some obvious ways and I realize we have to walk before we can run:

1) Study growing industries (w/i GDP per NAICS codes, movement of capital, industry studies from a balanced set of sources and SME's, etc.). This is pretty basic CI.
2) Find the ones or subsets that are most likely to thrive in your jurisdiction based on developing a deep insight into what it takes to be successful in those industries and ranking your jurisdiction's economic drivers, policies, capabilities, etc against those. Again this is a common CI skill set.
3) Work through the public policy apparatus to align government efforts against those
4) Populate (or connect) economic development offices to include people with deep insight into those industries so that deep and rapid engagement is more likely.
5) Strategically target companies in these industries most likely to grow and succeed. This part merely involves well-established CI practices from the private sector.
6) Win more often. (and if you are already doing this, I salute you)

In contrast, we should less often apply the same bus development efforts and direct investment (tax abatements, etc.) against jobs that will last 5 years vs. the ones that will thrive for decades. I realize that's tough to do in a political reality where political leaders are sometimes motivated to achieve rapid results to get re-elected vs. do the right thing for the long term...kind of like the private sector incentivizing on quarterly business results.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

CI - right brainedness

Daniel Pink's "Whole New Mind" lays out why America is headed for more right-brain thinking - a must read. He posits that inventiveness, empathy, meaningfulness will become more important than today across the board. Implications for CI?

1) CI is often more qualitative than quantitative. Qualitative is more right-brained. Obviously CI involves both, but at least in corporate America there are always organizations who get their ticket punched as the primary owners of the quantitative parts. They are often terrific allies (finance, market research, bus intel) but in the end it's up to you to connect many of the dots and confirm many of the answers with interesting tidbits and coincidences. How many times has someone pulled up a whole bunch of secondary market data as "here are the case studies" without talking to you about what's behind the numbers. That is where you come in. What were the events and how did they link the data - this gave meaning to the data.

2) CI is creative. You can be perfectly ethical and legal with this and still have a little fun. I used to introduce CI to new employees in group training sessions to which I wore a fedora and trench coat. May even have used Pink Panther music. It was memorable - they always remembered me and often called. Next I told a lot of stories about creative ways to get data.

Like the time I needed to know a competitor's manufacturing capacity. I knew their domestic and export shipments but I didn't know how many hours they operated - their production schedule. I needed to know what their cost structure would change to if they went 24/7. So I organized a multi-functional team working on this business to surveil a visible emission from the relatively local site of production (yes I got to do the midnight shifts). One of our senior exec's offices afforded a nice view so they took the day shift. Soon we calculated what we needed. Everyone got really motivated, had some fun and became extra aware of competition. Later on published reports or vendor literature confirmed our findings.

I also branded myself with the sales force with a catchy sales-sounding acronym (System of Competitive Observation to be Outstanding - SCOOP). Part of the program included an 800# which included this acronym. I mailed an 800# sticker to everyone in the field with this number to put on their mobile phones. I hung a catchy sign from the ceiling over my desk with the acronym on it. Yes the building management got upset!

3) CI is relational/empathetic. I already noted in my last post (re CI as an analgesic) that you have to find, and dare I say, FEEL, people's pain. It's also true that people you do primary research with won't talk to you if you can't readily relate. One of my favorite CI consultants was a middle aged, mid-western woman originally from the South. A one time heavy smoker, she had a gravelly voice that could be perceived as either male or female. She always adjusted her technique (voice, pace) for talking to Southerners vs. Northerners. She always remembered personal and family details learned from contacts on previous calls - even sent people little gifts (pictures, books). She always smiled on the phone. It was always more of a conversation than an inquisition. Contacts she made were always very tolerant of her more folksy than slick and efficient line of thought.

Don't forget your right-brain. There are plenty of left-brainers taking credit for all that stuff.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sell CI - it's analgesic!

I started a formal program on how to better sell myself, my business, anything. Found out it is really simple: just figure out where the pain is. Pain = especially the emotional reason to change. I'm still mulling that over. However, I think that this is substantially true.

I'm also told that people sell the way they themselves buy and that was an even bigger insight. The key is to sell people the way they buy. Apparently I sell to too small a minority of people because I'm very data based and demand "show me" demos based on specific real problems I am working on at any time. Sellers hate me. Now I'm on the other side.

Next steps reflecting on recent calls:

1) Schedule enough time. Cancel if you don't get it. Explain that you know from experience it will be a waste of their time which you respect too much - as you respect your own. It's the truth. Say it.

2) Listen 90% of the time...yes, that presumes good rapport and the right questions.

3) Maximum 2 slides...preferably none. If needed, send them ahead so you can get to conversation. Sell with a blank sheet of paper on which you sincerely (you authentically believe you can and want to games) and simply write key points you hear from clients about their pain. You are curious and empathetic. You acknowledge that maybe you can't help them - because they don't feel any pain - and that's okay.

4) What are your favorite questions: Ones I'm thinking about using more often -

- Who are the competitors of greatest concern to you (study ahead to provoke if
they don't readily know)
- What do you know/seriously suspect that you don't know about the market
landscape that would cause you to behave differently if you knew about (based
on the premise - state it- that everything really can be known)
- Do you qualify to do business with me (sic) re prior statement like "I work
best with companies who are dissatisfied with their business because one or
more competitors are outgrowing them, winning their customers, out-innovating
them - and they feel they need to find out why but don't yet know"

I'd like to hear from some of you. 36 of you read me last time. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CI and innovation

In the past 24 hours I have had a couple of conversations with organizations that provide innovation services to small and large companies or to individuals. A common dilemma is how to accelerate innovation productivity - or the rate at which real value can be attached to inventions (selling them to customers, licensing them to someone else)... see Michael Lanning's description of what is "value" at(

In industries where an increasing amount of knowledge and expertise is being contracted out or outsourced, this means that innovation processes must be built around all experts - internal and external. While I had been thinking along the same lines, I came across an example today worth sharing. One Fortune 100 company is already doing this. Over about 1-2 days with significant pre-work they bring together chosen internal and external experts around a specific technical problem or unmet need in the market and through a structured multi-disciplinary process (e.g. ideation & analysis & scenario planning - this includes coincident access to on-line relevant data like Derwent patents, market research, etc.). The end result is usually a couple of judged most promising ideas which can be made into resourced projects (or companies).

Apparently a key part of the success of the process is to use a night-before event to help get folks more intimately acquainted in a way that cause hierarchy and egos ("I know more than you!") to be left at the door. Yes wine and spirits are sometimes important.

So what does this mean for CI:

1) We need to be at the table in these processes both to add perspective about competitor technologies, thinking processes, and current views of the issue.
2) Add the technical intelligence which is only available in viral, word-of-mouth format that many of our scientist colleagues didn't find in journals, meetings, networks of their own.
3) Provide benchmark insights into the most productive innovation processes being used across industries which your colleagues may not know about
4) Just be there for the experience so that when you are engaged in the subsequent more rigorous market assessment, you know the background, unspoken questions, strengths and weaknesses of the viewpoints and data.
5) CI tends to have a very multi-functional focus. You can likely add perspective that will help direct the conversations productivity across disciplines.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts on overwhelming knowledge and info

I recently read a post by a college professor lamenting how hard it is to keep up with the exploding knowledge in his field. He acknowledged that undergrads could probably learn it faster on-line they he could learn it and retransmit or reframe it. I watched a YouTube video (circa 2006) which suggested knowledge in at least some fields is doubling every 72 hours and that interval is dropping.

Same problem besets competitive and business intelligence space. Here are some thoughts on principles to help manage this.

1) Define Key Intel Topics (KTIs) very carefully, clearly and regularly. If you are a full-time person in CI, typically 80% of your work should be defined by 3-5 key issues as agreed with your key internal customers and senior management. Context will be intimately linked to key results your organization has to obtain or has committed to over the next x months or years.

2) Use aggregating tools of your own design or a customized one (The ABIS Group in the Chicago area has a great product) to aggregate published sources. Build these around your Key Intel Topics. Tools that track web content changes are also useful though some. Industry meetings are aggregators in a different form. Think tanks, academics, associations are aggregators.

3) Always use Subject Matter Experts (SME) early in your process to steer you. Many of these have navigated, penetrated, and filtered the same overwhelming info environments and issues you are seeking to understand. Often they have already synthesized conclusions. But - they too don't know what they don't know if there networks are inadequate. By definition info is probably obsolete if it's written down. May more SME's are now more easily accessible on-line through Linkedin questions, blogs, twitter, Facebook, etc.

4) Think of yourself as the hour glass for CI in your organization. Train the entire organization to operate in a disciplined fashion of dumping things in the top of the hour glass while you watch everything going through. Make it easy for everyone to do so, to understand the value, to be recognized for doing so. Make this your CI brand.
CI at its best is completely democratic. Everyone participates (100% of 100 people giving 1% of their time to CI is 1 FTE!). Then extend this expectation to key regular business partners including suppliers and customers. Show them how to do this better for themselves based on what you are learning. They will reciprocate.

5) When your issues are very local to a specific region or city, tap into its local network. Look at local pubs, including e-pubs, contact Chambers of Commerce, local coaches and CEO forums, local journalists, community leaders, business networks, business incubators and other pro-entrepreneur and small business organizations, local librarians, venture cap sponsored events, events sponsored by mayor or local economic development officers (B to B events etc.), local business schools and exec mentoring events. Target local people who are former employees of a target organization (e.g. on Linkedin). Probably requires spending some time face to face in that locale - or find a local SME.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Scenario planning - organizational alignment

Re WSJ scenario planning article today…

In my experience the greatest value of scenario planning is organizational alignment. Rarely, otherwise, do all the necessary players across levels get together with enough time ( a measure of commitment), information and good will. Better yet, and increasingly important as businesses outsource "non-core" work, it really helps to invite allies like business partners, strategic suppliers and consultants and even customers, trusted outside subject matter experts. Make sure naysayers are heard. Make sure the final decision maker is there participating for key parts of the event including wrap-up. This exercise transcends writing many documents, making many presentations in its speed and impact - although it makes those documents and presentations better.

Benefits I've seen happen within hours with impacts in the 100 millions to billions of dollars.

1) Strategic marketing adjustment to focus on price/access determining channel vs. physicians in a pharmaceutical business probably a year faster than otherwise. (30 people, 1 day, 100 effort hours prep time)
2) Redefining a market segment(s) & product positioning from unique benefit x to a constellation of benefits the consumer really judged important as did many subject matter experts. Completely expanded our view of competitive set and how to win. (30 people, 1 day, 100-200 effort hours prep time)
3) Redefining role of sales vs. scientific liaison on pharmaceutical market to match market norm took 4 hours of meeting time with 15 people and had prep time of perhaps 20 hours. Critical to success of new product launch. Also occurred very quickly vs. developing case studies to illustrate same.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

When you talk to people who don't need any CI

I was "prospecting" for business today in the healthcare provider industry. A business planner explained their market to me effectively and efficiently and specifically why they didn't really have much in the way of competition. Made a compelling case. It was a quick conversation. Ever had one of those. I've had many.

Yet, at a high level today's conversation was a curious one:

US healthcare dollars are about to be squeezed as never before. Somewhere in that mix will emerge more competitors as pricing/reimbursement drops, care is managed in more restrictive algorithms, more standardized metrics on best outcomes/dollar are around the corner. In short the same number of players with high fixed costs will be competing for less dollars. In this case CI is should be about foresight in terms of how that will evolve and perhaps running all of those scenarios to net out which things you can/should do now regardless of which specific outcome eventuates. This provider even acknowledged that they are making as much per patient now as they probably ever will...only place to go is down.

Moral of the story: I should have known that a 30 minute conversation would never accomplish my objective and stated that upfront - even if it meant the call never happened. I likley could have used that time better on other things. I spoke with someone else in this industry earlier in the week who said there was no one he knew specializing in CI in this part of the industry. And, I landed a gig with another national level player in this space (because they get it).

CI & analysis sells when there is pain (aka surprise). CI sells when there is time for exploration and story telling and analogy development. CI sells when key decision maker is tired of being lied to. CI is a partnership. CI is not a project. It's a process. People don't know what they don't know. Haven't ever found that to be untrue.

Have a great 4th everyone.

Friday, June 26, 2009

CI in innovation

Today I attended an "ideation" session sponsored by BioStart and led by John Fox of John Fox Marketing here in Cincy. BioStart is a local incubator funded largely by state funds. Most attendees came from local bioscience space (drugs, devices, diagnostics, biofuels, etc.).

But, it left me wondering whether organizations of all kinds are using CI enough in the innovation space. Innovation in so many industries has stalled and knowledge is doubling at shorter and shorter intervals. The deluge of websites, social media, subscription services, consultant niches is overwhelming. But this is our world many ways...finding/filtering within this onslaught.

Our knowledge within specific markets and industry of mega trends, external influencers, new technologies, unmet customer and consumer needs, and comprehensive sources of information across functions/boundaries gives CI professionals perhaps a unique role. Scientists know narrow bands of journals, IP, network, scientific meetings and networks often in related or adjacent scientific disciplines. But often we can also provide financial perspective, marketing perspective, competitive perspective, case studies, search tools, etc. to help guide the thinking of technical innovators. While this is especially true in the entrepreneur space, it is also true in my experience in big time R&D groups. Some things I think we need to encourage more of and do more of as CI professionals are to:

1) In an intentional way draw more innovators through relevant 3C assignments where they learn more about consumer, customer and competitive issues. CI professional often work along the entire value chain, whereas many other functions are localized along it. CI can help lead the charge in this space.

2) Encourage your innovators to hang with small entrepeneurs in potentially related technology clusters to better understand, experience and be stimulated by their resourcefulness and the (un)structure of local/national resources available to them. Volunteer at the local incubator. Teach a graduate class. Join presentations at the local VC or angel investor events. If you are in healthcare, hang around other parts of healthcare or witness delivery in a different culture or country. CI can lead the way to finding diverse models.

3) Greater use of ideation approaches to bring multi-disciplinary thinking together at the same time to bring full left and right brain input together. Within this make sure you invite vendors, consultants, agencies, former competitor employees, etc. to make it comprehenisve and keep it real. Also invite proven innovators who have no knowledge of your industry. CI folks can help find those. CI can lead some of these sessions in the same way we often lead scenario planning.

4) Hang out a research institutes and grad schools that are intentionally teaching in a more multidisciplinary fashion (bus+engineering+fine arts) to get the whole brain engaged.

5) Develop and deliver more mega information filters to simplify staying current and leading technologies, website trackers, new social media search engines, etc.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

New proven provider of Competitive & Business Intel in Cincy area

(with apologies for blatant commercialism but I have bills to pay too:-)

Cincy/NKY Competitive & Business Intelligence Service - NTEL4u/Stan Dyck

Dear LinkedinCincinnati-

I am a competitive & business intel researcher, strategist and thinker/integrator, a recent alumni of P&G where I worked in this area for 20+ years.

I am now focused on helping local (w/i ~100 miles) businesses and organizations through my company NTEL4u. All work is done in a highly ethical/legal fashion consistent with SCIP guidelines plus additional guidelines we can discuss.

Please see my profile on Linkedin or contact me. I am well acquainted with the local small business and not for profit environment through volunteer work. Address for my new blog also appears below.

My work generally enhances strategic or tactical choices in R&D, marketing, bus development, due diligence, fund raising, etc. across industries and organizations. I have worked on 25 businesses (consumer goods, biopharma) in the US and Canada and also beyond. I'd be happy to serve you.

I'm committed to making sure that once I have served you, you (and your organization) are enabled to do much more for yourself.

I look forward to hearing from many of you...or refer me on please.

Best regards,

Stan Dyck

513.235.0262 mobile
513.785.0680 fax

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Reaction to yesterday's post is causing me to rethink. While I still hold to what I said yesterday, there was an important missing piece. That is that many of us who can and are able should be also volunteering at our local libraries to assist a range of folks researching many topics, especially ones we are most familiar with (business, technology, media, etc.). The full value of the bricks & mortar institution in our communities can only be realized in the interim but sharing our skills in teaching & helping others to use information effectively. I think I need to check that out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Out with the library

Before I left P&G it seemed the "library" and the organization running it changed names at least every two years in an effort to find their role and rebrand themselves. It seemed to me as long ago as 15 years ago that they were an organization in search of a problem to solve. Today I read about Governor Strickland in Ohio cutting funds for Ohio public libraries by 50%. While I readily acknowlege that today libraries provide community benefits far beyond their collections (access to computers, social hangout, literacy programs, quiet place to study), I just wanted to reflect on the impact of this to research needs of small business.

In the Cincinnati area where I reside, there are some outstanding opportunities by the public library system to partner with a host of organizations trying to help people create new businesses. This remains important because people don't know what they don't know and can know (for free). Appears to me that much of this will become quickly more virtual in the current funding deficit environment. There will still be smaller brick and mortar libraries but they will perhaps be nothing more than a couple of staff and many work stations plugged into ever better software which allows citizens across Ohio to self-serve. Ohio's library (the US') will become a virtual collection. The other functions of the library in the community will come from someplace else.

Chambers of Commerce, SBDC, SCORE, ESC, Urban League and others beware. Perhaps rather than lobby the State House for more funds, it will be better to help envision and craft the future of this entity and probably to better equip your own members, counselors, volunteers to be more capable in Do It Yourself business intel.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Imagine your way to CI

Early on in my CI work, a very sage person simply said map out where your information is and that is where competition's is. This was NOT a CI professional. It's often that simple. Today an article in the WSJ I think amplifies that by explaining latest learnings for neuroscience. We are beginning to understand how letting our minds wander links to problem solving. Sometimes we overcomplicate CI...too many left brained people doing too much analysis.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You can do better CI & counterintel by studying theirs

Not coincidence. Learn from it. Protect yourself: At a major scientific congress, our presentation of sensitive new data is suddenly interrupted by a fire alarm. Materials are left behind. At a major off-site sales meeting kicking off a highly confidential major product category initiative "visitors" and unidentified callers show up esp. at hospitality events. Competitor rep's kid on volleyball team of one of my reps and parent suddenly shows up at games at a sensitive time in sales cycle to chat. Two execs involved on same project and traveling same airline route discover in conversation they have sat beside the same person and answered the same questions. That person's spouse books travel. Am suddenly made aware by colleagues all around the world that someone claiming to be x is calling us and business partners globally to ask about timing of y. Reception log-in at supplier reveals competitors follows our visits with amazing regularity. At construction site one of several vehicles shows up somewhere on public perimeter regularly while building is still ripped open. Competitor hiring as coop student who worked closely with you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Future of CI

I have watched CI evolve for about 20 years. My crystal ball has many cracks in it, but here is what I see coming:

1) Specialist CI folks will continue to disappear. They will likely be replaced by multi-functional groups, networks which bring an entire organizations elements/members/their suppliers/customers to all focus in niches of understanding CI closely related to their own areas of expertise (innovation, PR/marketing, financial modeling/tracking, etc.). CI will be much more presumed, foundational and ongoing to everything the enterprise does. CI will be one training module or experience more employees/1099's will have earlier in their careers and maybe integrated within shared frameworks and tools needed to also understand customers, consumers and the external environment beyond competition. This will be built on organizational/industry best practices known at the time. Powerful aggregators and arrangers of data are also acclerating the elimination of many task done more manually by CI practitioners in the past (e.g. in Pharma)

2) It will be more important to know WHAT IS HAPPENING vs. WHAT MAY or WILL HAPPEN. There will likely be less time for foresight. CI problem solving will increasingly rely on large personal networks. In the pre Web era, information was always already obsolete once written down. With so many more democratic tools for sharing information/knowledge/opinion, this means instant communication and requires anyone making pretenses at being a CI professional to have the best networks and ways to monitor them and mange the six degrees of separation etc. People will always know before pubs/media of any kind. Now you can stay connected to them more easily.

3) Counterintel will have a much bigger challenge in corraling the loose lips, tweets, etc. in a faster moving world where people are also constantly changing jobs and alliances and in a world where anyone can talk to anyone - and does.


Stan Dyck

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Discovering when is a company shutting down or moving

Sounds like some of you did not really believe my last post.

Once upon a time, I was carefully studying the prospects of a competitor shutting down their key manufacturing facility in a major city. I had been by it many times to get the "lay of the land". There were many clues: the facility was old, land-locked, surrounded by a residential neighborhood, had a track record of environmental problems (published reports, gov't environmental reports, colleagues who lived nearby). It was also helpful that mutual suppliers, agencies, and clients and people who know people who know people seemed to think so too and had bits and pieces of information. Some local newspaper reporters had interest and dug around at it (with some provocation I helped with) and engaged their senior managers in some discussions (denials of course). We had analyzed their financials across multiple product lines in multiple countries and it seemed quite clear that it would be favorable for them to move given lower labor rates, proximity to suppliers, non-union work rules and newer/excess capacity, lower distribution expense, etc. Our field sales force and theirs swapped stories sometimes when they ran into each other and this helped confirm it as well. I concluded it was real and published a report to my organization on this "fact" and its implications. Not too long after I received a call from the President of my firm who had received a call from the President of the firm I was analyzing asking "what's going on". The competitor President had in front of him a copy of my report which one of our Sales reps had somehow gotten and shared. It was one of those conversations where my President essentially said he really wanted to keep this lower profile but was sure glad I'd done it. The competitor did shut down and move its operations.

I think all of the same skills could have been applied by Ohio, Dayton, Montgomery country officials on some coordinated basis. NCR competitors (some in Ohio!). knew I'm pretty sure. Customers of ATM equipment knew. Suppliers of components knew. Advisors and their firms knew. Realtors knew. Many people suspected. Third parties involved in doing analysis for NCR knew and their methodologies at least are known. The world is increasingly small in the social media world (six degrees of separation, etc.). It's unfathomable to me that one could not have known this likely outcome. Lot's of officials and people close to them in Duluth and Columbus, GA knew. Travel schedules of key officials from NCR are trackable. Some Wall Street analysts and their networks were likely expecting this. And so on....

I'm not sure outcome would have been different, but I doubt this should have been a surprise.


Stan Dyck

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Competitive intelligence in support of state level or regional bus dev

According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, Ohio and Dayton area officials are surprised and disappointed by announcement in the past few hours of a major job loss to the state of Georgia...NCR is shutting down most of its operations in Dayton: See

It appears that there were mounting concerns about this coming about going back several years but still these officials are now surprised:"Local concerns about NCR's shrinking Dayton presence have grown since 2006, when NCR's board allowed Nuti to continue living in New York, and December 2007, when the company announced plans to open executive offices in Manhattans World Trade Center. An expansion in Georgia announced last October only intensified concerns."

I have to wonder whether they really needed to be surprised. If it were a company worried about another competitor, good CI would likely have given early warning. Why not here in "competition" between states. All the same techniques, principles, practices apply.


Stan Dyck
Managing Director
see my Linkedin Profile

Friday, May 29, 2009

Protecting your own organization's data = the emperor has no clothes

It's interesting that the White House is advocating new measures to tighten the nations digital security

Fact is most of information in corporate America most often walks in and out the door. I did an audit one time of my organization that was very revealing. I challenged a PI firm to attempt to penetrate our premises and to gain as much strategic information as possible. They walked right in, spent a lot of time "mingling" and hanging out in a allegedly very security-conscious workplace environment at P&G. They took, photographed whatever they wanted. They fielded market research. They asked directions, created their own ID cards, attended meetings and presentations. They listened in on conversations of employees on-site and off (public locations like restaurants). Now given the ease of access to the physical premises, they invited in a world-class hacker to sit in a conference room and ping the system. Our best-in-class outsourced IT security service took 20 hours to figure this out. After a couple of hours he was close to getting through the fire wall. Finally I took the video footage from this exercise and played it back with voice over commentary to the entire organization. Shook them up a bit for a short while. Probably timely to do it again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Intel for Bus Development

Studies show that companies that do the best coming out of recession over the past 20+years are ones that continue to invest in innovation, marketing, and mergers/acquisition ( So many firms I come across big and small are struggling with declining or sluggish sales to existing customers and finding it hard to find new ones especially right now.

In my experience there is almost nothing material you can't find out about a "customer". In the era of cyberspace and social media online, this is even more true. Whether your footprint is bigger or smaller, local or (inter)national, it's still true. Whether you are a not-for-profit, a company, and public institution, your product or service or need has a supplier and a customer.

Non-profit examples:

1) You are a faith-based not for profit which needs to raise funds for a cause. A simple review of stats from organizations that publish data on philanthropic donations (e.g. IUPUI) reveals that most of the people you need to reach out to are people of faith of very average incomes who regular attend church services. There are 450k churches in America. Guess where your customer is. US census data provides more specificity by zip code about characteristics of each area. Many fundraisers, especially on the political side, have built successful models for how to reach out. President Obama's Triple O campaign? What links these churches together (ministerial associations, community causes, personal networks). That's your way forward. And, find out what others like you are doing...they are more than willing to share and teach. Especially talk to bigger organizations that have developed the experience, models, processes to consistently succeed. Look for analogs and case studies in philanthropic fundraising pubs.

2) You are a local life science incubator serving perhaps a 50 mile radius around your city. You want to provide technical, financial, commercilizaton advice, community and services to advance very early stage new technology which improves life and creates employment. You want to connect with scientists, physicians, biomedical engineers, etc. locally. Well, where do they reside, invent and go for help - patent attorney's, CPAs, librarians, academic colleagues/mentors, technology transfer offices, local high networth individuals, VC's, local angel investor groups, on line communities and subject-specific blogs, scientific meetings, innovation competitions, bus development meetings (e.g. BIO), your "competitors" in the region, regional subject matter experts, bus development personnel at big firms, suppliers of related specialized testing & lab equipment, Chambers of Commerce, state government programs, Small Business Administration, etc, etc. As you network to build relationships and to engage these organizations you will quickly develop a mental Pareto chart for where the most fertile prospects usually are, make them aware of your organization and get commitments to have inventors referred on. Then get disciplined and systematic about your approach prioritizing highest probablity targets.

Stan Dyck

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The boundaries of competitive Intelligence - who needs it? define it?

Most people don't seem to think they need CI. Doesn't matter if they are small or large. Sometimes they are right, but at least as often not. At least that is my experience and why P&G kept me employed doing this for 20+ years. I'd consider that a successful experience for a number of reasons (you can read my profile on Linkedin). It's interesting that when I left there were 10+ other FTE's claiming to own and do competitive intelligence. I didn't know most of them thought they were doing that.

Words are a funny and imprecise thing. Turned out there were a lot of people with their own definitions: market intel, competitive intel, bus intel, technical intel, and probably permutations and combinations beyond that. Probably best to call it external intelligence. In my world practitioners (or claimed ones) included scientists, IT experts, library types, financial analysts, market researchers, marketing folks, PR agencies, etc. Perhaps you have reached success when everyone across your work community is doing it.

In the end I'd say it doesn't matter what you call it or name it. It's about looking at the strategy and tactics across key SBUs and key functions, seeing what assumptions have been made about all the external environments and challenging those to be more robust, more data driven, more insightful and more foresightful - in ways that lead to action and keep 'em coming back for more.

Once the strategy is nailed (in someone's mind, on a piece of paper) and deployed to that organization (for profit, not for profit), and you start "doing it", I invariably find that there are ever shifting holes, blind spots (u don't know what u don't know), and assumption changes.

I call those key intelligence topics (KITS) and you have to work hard with key leaders to select only a few of those to work on...the 80 for the 20. There are always fire drills that take you away from the top 80% of work represented by the 20% of most important issues.

Isn't it funny how specific organizations are assigned to knowing the consumer (market research, product management generally) and also to understand the customer (bus development, sales). But everyone owns the competition. That can and should work well if harnessed appropriately. But, there needs to be a collection point, a node, an external intel integrator who proactively collects internal and external SME knowledge about that external environment and configures it to move the decision process in a strategic direction.

I'd be happy to audit your environment and show you where the gaps are and how to start to fill them both with what you know already and aren't integrating or by finding the missing pieces form the internal environment...and, then transitioning this back to you/yours so you are stronger going forward. You can easily do this.

Stan R. Dyck

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stan Dyck asks - When is enough enough

Dear Blogo-Sphere-

I'm not sure how you start a blog, but as a lifelong writer it seems pretty natural to tell you (who are you?) where I'm at on my journey. I'm really not sure who that is or should be of interest to but people have increasingly told me to write both on the personal side and on the business side. My 10th grade teacher, Miss Davidson, started prompting me and everyone who reads my Christmas letter has reiterated that, and other former P&G colleagues. Here goes-

Many of us wonder, especially in a country as wealthy and privileged as the US, when enough is enough. While I know the latest economic crisis, has many thinking this no longer applies, relative to most of the world our standard of living in wealth and freedom is unparalled. I'm on a journey of figuring that out, but determined to live with more passion and purpose. I was born overseas, grew up in Canada of very modest means and raised by parents who survived the Great Depression. I have biases. I think the answer to this question frames much of how we live and make choices.

The fact is I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago at Procter & Gamble that I had enough of that life. I was 52, had been there 30 years and wanted to live with more passion in living out my dreams, faith, person-hood. This was prompted both by experiences at work where programs like Gallup's Strength Finders and other materials increasingly crystallized the fact that most of us only engage a small amount of our total mind, body, soul in the workplace. For me that was draining me, consuming all my energy and not tapping nearly all of me. I was getting angry. Some challenging teaching by Jeff Greer at Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio pulled me further in the direction of better defining my life-song as a claimed Christ-follower. You have to understand that when I embrace something, I'm very committed, determined and loyal. It's hard to change direction. And, once you hit a certain age you realize even more acutely that the clock is ticking. In my circle of friends, people around me were experiencing major life-changing crisis including death. You can't just keep saying, "One day I'd like to...". You have to embrace the full risks of life.

I asked for an early retirement package and eventually got one. I realize that isn't a real possibility for many of you. I am most grateful to P&G. Still there have to be ways to live more fully.

I didn't want my kids (then 21,18, 15) thinking that you have to just grit your teeth and heart and always tough out what isn't enriching or purposeful. So it was a tough call but the right one.

I had been calculating "the number" I needed to hang it up for 10 years. There's a clue right there. Sounds like I knew 10 years prior that I needed to have an exit strategy. And in some ways I was waiting it out. In any case, I had on my own married most of the conventional rules of financial planning to my expectations and had that vetted by a financial adviser. I had my own modest definition of "enough". And of course that has been redefined since October '08.

So,I left P&G Jan 2/08 and started my journey of self-discovery reapplying to my own firm, NTEL4u my skills as a competitive/market analysis and stategist both in the pro-bono side (,, other) and doing a variety of consulting projects built mostly on my background in CPG and pharmaceuticals. (8 projects, 5 clients, 5 figures in my first year)

What I have learned more about so far is that:

1) I enjoy helping others be successful but I am still struggling to combine that with "enough" - financially, emotionally. My work as a SCORE counselor and fundraiser for an NFP has been challenging and enjoyable and allowed me to take the lead on new things - writing business plans, learning more about funding businesses and fundraising systems, applying my research and analysis skills to many more and diverse situations. I like to connect the dots and people.
2) Business development has so much to do with psychographics. Only making that personal connection and being patient allows you to get a real be fully heard in terms of the unique value you can bring to the table and in this market a lot of patience is needed. Meeting other like-minded hearts and minds is critical. Speed-dating is generally pointless. Be real. It's efficient and simply right.
3) Compartmentalizing your life is draining. God's at work on purpose. He made each one of us for a specific purpose. Our job is to find that purpose and do it. Then hang on for the ride of your life. As Georgia Byrd says in Last Holiday (Queen Latifah), "I have live my life in a box and I don't want to be buried in one". No more of that. He will reveal what is enough and always provide it. It's been amazing how financial resources have come to my wife and kids over the past year as I have struggled to stay on my business and life plan.
4) Community is so important. Right now that is significantly about networking and meeting new people. It's an incredible way to learn - all these other minds/lives absorbing, experimenting, networking. Right now I haven't found that community in a local church and am coming to the conclusion that the real church is a small group of authentic believers you connect with regularly and do life together with. Most times, these are one on one or two on one interactions where there is time to be real, to listen and learn - to believe.
5) Competitive intelligence is forever changed. While you have to make the competition as important as consumers and customers, it's all about DIY now. You have to better enable others to do their own, to learn the disciplines and processes, to think differently. You have to knit together and operationalize readily available sources and find an internal operator at your client. You still win by knowing competition better and before you. It's still about strategic gap filling because no one knows what they don't know. Information still doesn't flow well in organizations given their structures and personalities. Blue Ocean Strategy is right that you need to get beyond the competition as is Michael Lanning's DVP thinking, but you still have to have a clear view of competition. They make you better. You are simply tapping into another group of very smart people who happen to be competitors. You still win by knowing them better and before they know you (counterintel is fun). As a consultant you have to offer outstanding value. Any consultancies I admire offer extremely high value at a modest price. Big consulting is increasingly "toast".

Ok. That's if for today. Am reading David Merrman Scott's book on the "New Rules of Marketing and PR" - very good. Again it dimensionalizes how much the world is moving toward DIY given new technology and thinking. Also reading Kaufman Foundations "Thoughtbook-2009". I don't think they get it quite right on education. This is a space of ultimate expression of DIY going forward and credentialing will take a hit.

So enough is becoming enough when you are more full of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control and when your thoughts are full of what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Money will always consume time and attention and talent, but is somewhere down the line. I keep trying to keep that in perspective...often not succeeding.

On the journey,

Stan R. Dyck (beta)
513.235.0262 mobile
513-785-0680 fax
(meet me.... well part of me....on Linkedin)