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.


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