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.


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