How to Think Within Competitive Intelligence Using Pencil and Paper

How to think within Competitive Intelligence using pencil and paper

This article is called how to think within Competitive Intelligence using pencil and paper. Competitive Intelligence thinking can bring some brilliant ideas and ways forward. But how do you move from idea to getting started? Our minds are packed with some fantastic ideas, but these ideas stay where they are more often than not. In our heads, never to come to fluctuation. Convincing yourself that it was a daft idea.

New idea

It is not easy to bring a new idea to life. To download it out of your head and make it become real. The path you will be on will always be unclear. You may start out with a very clear understanding of where you want to go and what you are going to do. But the mist of reality can really blind you and perhaps put you off altogether.

The first place to start is to get support for your idea. Get buy-in from the right people to get anything off the ground. You’re better half if you are going to risk everything in your future and set up your own business. Or the senior management team if you want to move a company in another direction.

You have to organise your thoughts around your idea and assess two aspects.

  • How ready is your business is for change?
  • How prepared are you for the change?

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.

Ambiguity and uncertainty are the common obstacles that will get in the way of your progress. And if you are not ready or expecting it, you may well fail and give up.

You are going to get objections from within your business. Especially if your culture is wrong. Or there is an unwillingness to change the way they do things, and yes, those who say it can’t be done. It’s a stupid idea. What’s the point? Is it worth the bother?

What’s going to get in your way?

But the most significant thing that will get in your way will be you. The barrier that’s your biases and a willingness to listen to your assumptions.

One of the best things to do in this situation is to find a pencil and a piece of paper. In fact, this can be done with any decision that’s causing you concern. Do it by yourself and perhaps afterwards getting others involved. Don’t suggest this tool with your wife to be to determine if you should get married. You will have a bad evening to say the least!

Right, so you have got that piece of paper. Draw a line down the centre from top to bottom. On the top left-hand side, write something like Why shouldn’t I do this? On the other side write why we should do this.

You can now see the problem with the marriage thing here. Ask questions like:

  • Why is this going to be difficult?
  • Why are you not able to do this?
  • What will get in the way?
  • What will go wrong?
  • Who is going to get in the way?
  • Why will my money run out before
  • Which competitors could destroy me
  • What market trends are going to get in the way

Write your answers down on the left-hand side. Then put your positive head-on and ask why it’s going to be easy? Who is going to help and what’s going to go right? Etc etc.

Clear mind

This activity isolates the known barriers and opportunities. Not only that, it will also help you by dumping it all out of your head. Helping you make considered decisions about the best way forward.

Now to go to the next level, you need to synthesise the lists. Or, in the real world, put them into three baskets.

  • We can do this
  • What if?
  • Brick walls

We can do this

Surprising, this basket is where most of the problems will be put into. The things you can handle. The process has made you think of what could get in the way. Isolating this will bring to mind the solutions. Determine why you can do something. You may not understand the specifics of how it will work, but at least you know what’s you need to do to make it happen.

What if

The “What if” basket is for the things you can do nothing about. The stuff out of your control. The unpredictable things like what happens if the market changes overnight? What if a new competitor comes along just before you launch? What if you don’t make enough money to cover your costs? Being aware of these aspects of your idea is half the battle. Allowing you to monitor them and keep an eye out for any warning signals. Define the warning signs and decide what you could do about it to resolve situations before they happen.

Brick walls

Brick walls are for the problems that will stop you in your path. Whatever you do, putting problems on this list makes you think and calmly evaluate your next steps. Setting up a country pub in the middle of a pandemic lockdown immediately springs to mind. But these aspects can be much more nuanced. It may be a great idea, but the timing is all wrong. It is better to know before you start to take action. So you can look at alternative paths or ditch the idea before wasting any more time and money on it.


How to think within Competitive Intelligence using pencil and paper

This article was called how to think within Competitive Intelligence using pencil and paper. Hopefully, this exercise will help you to move forward with renewed confidence. Understanding what could the result be and what could get in the way.

Art by: Isaac Smith



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