What’s happening?

To continue the theme over the last few blog entries, here are some additional thoughts about the field of competitive intelligence and thought leadership.

In business, thought leadership is about being ahead – well ahead – of your competitors. To be successful as a thought leader, you need to spot trends, pick up even weak signals in the marketplace and anticipate reactions to industry changes.

Thought leaders don’t just look at the past and present they shape the future. They don’t just react after something happens or act on something happening now – they create what’s happening.

Are you just reacting and acting or are you actually creating the future for your company and your industry? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

Raising your CIQ

competitive intelligenceThis week I had a meeting to explain how competitive information differs from competitive intelligence, how competitor information differs from competitor intelligence and how market research differs from all of those fields.

Some would consider these “splitting a hair” differences, but each term refers to a unique concept. I’ll summarize briefly…very briefly.

Competitive information is the information that is published or in the public domain that focuses on a specific market or product, whereas competitive intelligence is what you know but others don’t. Similarly competitor information is published or in the public domain and competitor intelligence is unpublished but both deal with the actual competitor.

Market research, on the other hand, looks at “why buyers buy.” Competitor intelligence and information deal with “why sellers sell.”

Many simply lump all of these areas together as “competitive intelligence.” or CI. If you’re interested in learning more about competitive intelligence, look at www.scip.org, a one-stop shop window for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. You’re sure to raise your “CIQ,” your competitive intelligence quotient.

Here I’d like to discuss how CI and thought leadership are integrated and combined drivers of strategic competitiveness.

You can’t be a thought leader unless you know what people – especially your competitors – are already thinking. Once you are aware of and in touch with the thinking inside your competitor’s head – in their world – then you can position yourself ahead of that as a thought leader.

To separate yourself as an industry thought leader, you need to do thorough research so that you know what the thinking is inside the industry. Then you can create distinctive thoughts ahead of where the industry is – otherwise you’ll just be a thought follower.

What’s your CIQ? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

That’s a big number! Politics versus economics in financial decision-making

More than 6 trillion USD was wiped from global stock markets with 12.1 percent drop in global market capitalization, according to Financial Times on 31 December. Elsewhere in that edition, an editorialist noted with dismay the importance of politics over economics, citing French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as prime examples.

Are your business decisions driven by economics or by external politics or by internal politics? In other words, are you making sound financial decisions based on your strategy or good-enough ones based on expediency? Are you balancing global and local politics as you design your strategies or are you focused only on the politics of the markets you’re in? Are your strategies being driven by the “squeakiest” wheels inside your company or on a balanced set of inputs? Ask, assess then act. We’re here to help.

And the victor is…

Victor Hugo

The recent “war of words” between Britain and France has been making international headlines lately. Victor Hugo once commented that the French and the English needed each other because they both got better from the competition.

Are you experiencing any particularly aggressive external competition right now? Are you using that brouhaha to strengthen your company?

Times of struggle against a common “enemy” can unify your internal team members and help them pull together in one direction — hopefully that is the direction where your company needs to go. Are you consistently clear about that direction and who is the true “enemy” so that internal competition is eliminated and the focus is only on the external competition?

Are you communicating your thoughts well to those inside — and outside — your company? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

I never finish anythin


A few weeks ago, we were walking around the shops at Port Solent with my Portsmouth stepdaughter and her family when we came across a tee shirt shop. The tee shirts had funny sayings on them, but the one that made our young granddaughters laugh the hardest was “I never finish anythin”…

That saying reflects the feeling I have now as I’ve just launched this website. So many pre-launch reviewers gave great input that I plan to incorporate along the way, so this site will never be completely finished. I hope that it will continue to evolve as you add your ideas, too, through the other connected forums that feed this website:
social site thoughtleaderzone

Please use these conversation channels to take part in a dialogue about what makes a good thought leader. Ask yourself that question. Assess the best answer to share with other forum participants. Act collaboratively and submit your ideas, experiences and examples. Be a thought leader in thought leadership! We’re here to help.

Put on your own oxygen mask first

My sister was traveling back from a holiday in Florida with her two-year-old granddaughter. Before the plane took off, a flight attendant came by to remind the adults in the group that in case of an emergency, they should put on their own oxygen masks first and then put on the baby’s mask.

The corollary to this advice applies to busy executives, too. Do you remember to put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others? How do you ensure you have enough “air” to survive hectic schedules on a daily basis and still have time to think?

During these times of crisis and instability, are you still able to get enough balance in your life? How do you fit in work, family, friends, chores, fitness, hobbies, newspapers, business books and leisure reading like novels and magazines…just to name a few activities.

In such a packed schedule, how can you shoehorn in “being a stronger thought leader”? Leading the industry forward as a thought leader takes time and dedication to the task. Are you having difficulty fitting in “thinking time” between all the meetings and daily demands of running a business?

What gets prioritized gets done, so are you blocking time in your schedule for thinking? Have you set aside time daily or weekly for deep, focused thought — a time when you can “come up for air” and think about the bigger picture? You need to make time for critical reflective activities. You need to make time to ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

Photo by Miikkahoo on Flickr

Keep the embers burning!

thought leaders keep the embers burningA preacher was trying to get a parishioner to return to church after a long period of not attending services after the elderly gentleman’s wife died. He called on the man one evening and was invited in to sit by the fire. Rather than talk to the old man directly about his church attendance, the preacher just sat rocking in a chair by the fire. He reached over and took a poker and then pushed the remains of one small burning stick away from the rest of the fire, and they both just watched it as those embers turned from red to cold gray. The preacher left and the following Sunday, the man was sitting in the pew of the church.

So what lessons on internal communication does this vignette hold for thought leaders? The obvious answer is that actions speak louder than words – sometimes it takes courage not to talk, but that’s the right thing to do. Other, more subtle lessons can also apply.

If your company has suffered a loss, like most firms during the Great Recession, your “surviving” employees may be feeling isolated and alone and negative about the organization. It’s important to continue to communicate frequently with them by bringing them together for town halls or internal meetings so that they can air their concerns. Don’t take this metaphor too far and start sermonizing to them, of course!

But communicating with particular individuals can also help strengthen the weakest links in your organizational chain. Are there are few key influencers inside your organization who are needing some one-on-one time with you right now – time when you can help them by your actions, as much as by your words, to strengthen their bonds to the company? Are you making it easy for people to “stick” to your organization so that when the bad times have passed, they won’t flee at the first opportunity? What can you do now, in the “mourning period” to ensure your employees will be there for you when the good times start to roll? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

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