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Intelligence planning

boy in army hat and using binos

Will you still be on the battlefield?

By | Intelligence planning

It is essential to understand what’s the long term viability of your industry is. It’s critical to look for the trends could change the rules of the game. Also, what would allow a competitor to change the rules of the game?Understand the reward (and cost) of being a winner/loser within your industry. And, also in five years, what will your industry winners look like.

These questions may help: 

  • Who are the industry leaders?
  • What are they doing and why?
  • What are the critical success factors in your industry?
  • What does your competitor do? – (Not as simple and straightforward question as it seems).
  • What are the key players saying?
  • What are they not saying?
  • Do their actions match their words?
  • Where do they compete, which customers and niches?
  • How are they going to fight in the future?
  • Are their strategic objectives achievable and will they clash with yours?
  • What options do we have to compete in this changing world?
  • How will you differentiate against them?
  • Can you isolate vulnerabilities to exploit?
  • If you had limitless resources, do you know which of your competitor’s people would make a significant difference to your organisation?

Answers to these questions could create a powerful list that would be to highlight your strengths and weaknesses and your future plans.

Stay ahead of the game

As you know, Competitive Intelligence helps you stay ahead of the game, but to remain on the battlefield the isolated competitive analysis, you must result in action.
Now, ask yourself, will you still be on the battlefield?

Intelligence is just knowing…

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

What are your competitors ultimate goal?

By | Intelligence planning

Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of your world changing, of competitors, growing, customers needs evolving and disruption in your market. You can’t avoid or stop it. But you can stay ahead by innovating, modernising, delivering what’s needed, and knowing what could be happening next. Business is hard enough when your industry stands still. Unfortunately, it never does, and those pesky competitors are out to beat you. Sure, short term wins should not kill you, but if you are to outlast them, you need to know what they are up to.

Sit down and take some time to understand what they’re up to and want to achieve. To be successful, they need to have more about them than just make more money. What do the owners want to do, what’s their strategy, what will they need to do to achieve things? An excellent place to start is to understand what your rivals ultimate goal is. It usually consists of 3 things:

  • People
  • Places
  • Things

Collate all aspects of people, places and things.

People

What people will they need to achieve want they want? Are they around and how this compares to what they currently have? Are those skills in your organisation? Is that a threat? How are they going to resolve any skills gaps? What customers will they need? How are they going to get them?

Places

Which markets do they need to enter and which regions do they need to expand? Where will they be when they have achieved their endgame?

Stuff

What equipment will they need? What products will they need to develop? Is the tech available?
How are their R&D and product development teams performing? Will they need more people? What real estate do they need? Now turn the tables and look at yourself. This process may reveal new routes to market. If not, you will know more about yourself and your competitors.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Does your competitor possess those two killer things? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Drivers win

Is it more than just good questions?

By | Intelligence planning

Drivers tell us it more than just good questions.

You have some great questions, and you are researching and talking to people. Now you will find yourself swamped with information on paper, Evernote, email and your cloud.  Then the realisation hits you that intelligence is so much more than researching Google really well — lots of data and no idea where to start.

It may sound simple, but the next step is to sort all the information into a limited number of piles. Then put them in order. The titles of these piles (or drivers as they a termed), the order they are to be classified and how we determine when we have big enough piles needs to be thought out and agreed. These drivers allow you to develop future actions.

For example, if you are assessing a competitor’s strengths. You need a question like: How serious a threat is this competitor to our market? Your drivers could include financials, product pricing, people, customers, future strategy, marketing message etc. A future action from products pile, for instance, could be “if our competitor introduces that product to that market we will… Or if our competitor increases their price by x, we will…

And then you are a little closer to intelligence to help you make a decision.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

boy next to a wall What is Competitive Intelligence?

Good to great questions

By | Intelligence planning

Great questions are the best way to create great intelligence.

However, it’s not just a case thinking up a smart question to catch all about a competitor or market.

You have to guide the decision maker to take action.

What do I mean? Well, rather than asking:

What are competitor X’s main strengths?

Ask it like this:

What can we do about competitor X’s strengths?

Arguably, given time and a greater situational understanding, you will be able to come up with an even better question.

But you will see how a subtle change in the question transforms a concerning situation to proactive decision focused intelligence environment.

And that’s the power of Intelligence.

We have a saying at Octopus “Intelligence is just knowing” so, we offer a daily short and sharp intelligence based thought with an aim to help your day to day work. Feel free to sign up here:

 

www.octopusintelligence.com

 

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Change is risky

By | Intelligence planning

Great ideas take time to establish themselves. According to Seth Godin in this excellent new book, ‘This is Marketing’, it is because the best ideas require significant change. They fly in the face of the status quo and inertia is very powerful.

Great ideas create a lot of noise and distrust. He says “Change is risky and that’s why some companies want others to go first to test the water.”

Smart companies use intelligence to reduce uncertainty and the consequences of risk allowing you to have a clear head to make better decisions. Intelligence can also determine how successful your great idea could be before committing millions and risking brand and reputation. Intelligence tells it how it is and provides a bedrock of certainty upon which to build decision making and future proofing strategies.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Competitive intelligence is an exclusive game

By | Intelligence planning | No Comments

Competitive Intelligence War Games: a new weapon to advance your business

Have you heard of Competitive Intelligence? So,  you may be looking to move ahead of your competition? Do you need fresh insight to make important decisions while keeping your team onside? Also, Are you facing a tricky situation and need to change the direction your ship is heading?

Make better informed decisions

Here’s a great way to make better informed decisions. It’s called War Games, and it’s one of the best tools in the Competitive Intelligence armoury.

A War Game is a military and business exercise which you carry out to test or improve your tactical expertise. Different scenarios and actions are thrown into the exercise, and teams have to react to them. These teams represent your company and your competitors. It’s a highly effective way to test your assumptions about your ever-changing competitive environment, also helping your organisation to better understand itself and move forward confidently.

How to play a War Game

Playing a War Game is rather like playing a board game such as Risk or Chess.

First, split your people into teams. Each team should represent a competitor and other external influences such as a government or regulator. One team must represent your own company. The teams acting as your competitor must become your competitor. They should study them, and think how they think. They should research them and get under their skin. Each team should map the current business situation and assess what could happen in the future.

You will need an umpire to assess each teams’ success and determine how realistic their plans are, and an independent external facilitator to avoid your company culture and viewpoints leaking into the findings.

Next, create a number of rounds to represent a period of time spanning a couple of months (if you are being tactical) or one or two years (to be more strategic).

Creating a new strategy

Once each team has an understanding of the competitor it represents, it goes away to create a growth strategy to enable it to win the game. The strategy and plans must be realistic. It’s important that each team must be able to achieve its strategy in real life.

The teams must then reconvene and present their plans. The opposing teams and judges can ask probing questions. This questioning represents the end of the 1st round. Assumptions are explained, and the teams can use a myriad of software analysis tools available to do so.

However, it is essential that the War Game is run in an old-fashioned way. This means people interacting face-to-face in the same room (with break-out rooms) using paper, flip charts, pens and Post-It notes. You need to feel what’s going on and watch the teams’ reactions to feedback and comments from the umpires and other teams.

Reviewing plans

The 2nd round consists each team going away and reviewing their plans and strategies following the 1st round’s presentations. As well as presenting its plans, each team should also attempt to predict the other teams’ thoughts and ideas and perhaps counter what the other teams are planning to do.

For each strategy and action plan, teams must detail the resources and funding needed. If they are not currently available to the competitor, they should tell the judges how they intend to get them.

Rule nothing out

The whole process can get very heated and feel very real, and the passion will bring some cracking ideas to the fore. War Games also prove to be great fun for everyone taking part.

Military and intelligence organisations play such strategic games all the time, answering questions like “What if Israel joins the bombing campaign in Syria?” or “What if Russia invades Lithuania?” You can do the same. “What if Competitor X brings out a game-changing product?” etc.

Throughout, nothing should be ruled out. Judges can throw a spanner in the works, and if it makes sense for two teams to merge, then this can happen too. You can bring “What if…” rounds into the game asking the teams to devise their actions on a scenario. The reactions and final outcomes are really powerful and give you amazing insight to what your enemy could do and feel.

Selecting the winner

Once your War Game is finished, each team writes up its findings and the umpires bring everything together. The winning team is decided by the umpires, but there is nothing wrong with opposing teams providing input too.
Ultimately, the result is that your entire organisation is the winner, with the War Game process answering your most pressing and important questions, such as:
Given the situation you face are there any benefits of a surprise and how much do you think it will cost you?

Strategy

Do you want to focus on one strategy or test a number of alternatives?
How about developing a company-wide culture of strategic thinking to help you develop new ideas, services and products?
Are you sick of those immediate, let’s do it now crises?
Do you want to find a great way to bond your team together, which does not include the pub and a karaoke machine?

Consider this valuable extension to your War Game

Another extremely useful tool – as used by the CIA – is the Red Team model. The Red Team is a group of people which has not been involved in your War Game so far. It looks at what you have decided to do and your reasoning behind it. It will then attempt to completely discredit the plan and provide reasons why the plan would not work.

This is not as daft as it may sound. Looking to discredit the plan could (and does) reveal glaring gaps in the decision makers thinking and helps counter groupthink. Red Teams can save a lot of time and resources by at least making you think about every possible scenario.

Find out more today

War Games offer you new ways to think about your businesses, competitors and your decisions – as well as getting your team onside with a complete understanding of your strategy – as a simulated experience. War Games are a great weapon to help you win in real life.