How Competitive Intelligence Can Learn From Soviet Era Cold War Exercises

How Competitive Intelligence can learn from Soviet era cold war exercises.

Routine policies and procedures are essential in business. Practice makes perfect, and it is safe that everyone knows what everyone else is doing. The rigidity of the secure pattern. This article has the rather unusual title of how Competitive Intelligence can learn from Soviet era cold war exercises.

But routine adherence to procedures can often be dangerous. It can open you up to your competitors understanding you more. Enabling them to predict what you will do next. And if they can do that, they have a chance of making you do things they want.

Freezing cold day south of Magdeburg

During the Cold War and modern-day, both the Warsaw Pact and Nato alliance conducted war games. In featureless training areas around Magdeburg and Dresden, mechanised armies ran around to show each other just how well prepared for an attack they were. Men with red armbands run around straight-faced and call their fellow troops wearing green armbands the enemy. The usefulness of such exercises was clear. It trained people how to move tanks and equipment. And men about like a complicated dance routine around the battlefield. The soldiers in the tanks knew which direction to fire. The generals to play out their strategy games.

Practice makes perfect and predictable

Repetition makes the process look effective. Once they got the steps right, it worked. Because people learn the patterns, they will usually always conform to them. The Soviets were masters of learning patterns. Probably due to the country’s sheer size and the then lack of education in the military, many things left patterns. Dates cyphers were changed when military exercises took place. And certain times of the day when communications were initiated. There were local differences, so these could be identified, analysed and tracked. So when something is done out of sync, the west knew something was going on.

This repetition happens deliberately and many times unintentionally in your businesses. Policies and procedures are necessary. But people fall into habits and do the same thing every time.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive intelligence offers certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.

Looking at you

There is a danger of conforming to routine and forming patterns. Like those dancers on Strictly Come Dancing, moves always go from A to B to C. In an undisturbed logic. It may be safe that everyone knows what everyone else is doing. But this rigidity of a secure, comfortable pattern makes you predictable. And if your competitors are bothering to really look at you. And when we say look, we dont mean buying access to monitoring software to detect website and social media changes. That’s kids stuff. We mean, really look at you. Analysing what you do, are going to do, assessing your strengths and weaknesses. If they look, they will find patterns. If they see patterns, they can understand what you will do next. Or worse, test how you react to a particular situation and make your move to their dance routine. Not yours.

A basic example

What do we mean by this? A basic example is when a competitor reduces your prices. No, not a typo. You have your monitoring in place. So you know what’s happened. You respond to their price reduction by lowering your prices. To match or to be cheaper. It’s costing you, but you have to compete against the more significant competitor. It can’t last forever as they will lose money. Will they? How certain are you that this is the case? They may have a more effective supply chain, lower raw material costs etc.

Anyway, you reduce your prices and then put them back up again once your competitor does so. This happens a few times, but hey, you have it all covered with monitoring software.

What you dont know is that your competitor has been watching what you do too. And they do have a bigger war chest. And more profitable products you dont sell. They also know that things are tighter in your business, and reducing prices hurts you more than them. So along comes your peak trading period. Your competitor reduces its prices when you least want them to. They keep them low and punch above the market with new advertising. Or announce a new product or rehash an old one and put “plant-based” on the label rather than “vegitaritan”.

It’s killing you, but you have no choice. They have decyphered your patterns. The last time we looked, customers tended not to wear armbands or act in a specific way. Enterprises are looking to grow in a world where they have lived for such a long time.

How Competitive Intelligence can learn from Soviet era cold war exercises.

People don’t need armbands to identify themselves as the bad guys. And the bad guys, those looking to take your business, may have a different set of rules. Also, living so long in the same world, everyone is exposed to all sorts of biases. Biases that affect decision making. So you get experience blindness. The article was called how Competitive Intelligence can learn from Soviet era cold war exercises.

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We Provide More Certainty & Competitive Advantage With Competitive Intelligence & Competitive Strategy

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