Military intelligence lessons migrated into the commercial world

Before reading this article, written for the SCIP magazine, you may be expecting many useful Military Intelligence tools and tips. But films and TV don’t offer an accurate reflection of military intelligence. The reality may seem so much more mundane because the best tools used are your mind, your attitude and simple common sense.

That said, there are many skills involved in the Military Intelligence field which are relevant to life within the commercial world. The Military teaches us that when the chips are down, instead of panicking, have a cup of tea. Strap on your pack, pick up your rifle, give your team mates some banter and get on with it. It may be a British thing, but if you are struggling to find information, have a laugh at yourself. Call yourself a name and get back to it.

Choose the right team with the right skills

A quick Google search

The 7 Ps


Don’t dumb down, rough it up


Accepting orders


Keeping It Simple

Clear direction

Standard Operating Procedures

Take a lot of bullshit

Get on parade

Within the Military, it shows the enemy that the army is working as one, is prepared, professional, and everything is planned to the eighth degree. It is a message to the enemy that if they choose to fight, they are going to lose. It also teaches standards which have to be maintained. Similar best practices are also virtues in the corporate world; high standards should help to ensure you do the job properly.

So what is Military Intelligence based on?

What do you really want?

Organisations need to have clarity as to their end game. Is it to out last their competitors, to sell the company, float on the stock exchange, to totally dominate the industry.

Key Intelligence Questions


What’s normal?


Consistently search and record every piece of information possible. Do not reach conclusions during the collection. Stay focused on the facts. When talking to people, don’t confuse them or make them suspicious. Ask them one simple question with supporting questions. Ensure you have the right equipment which is clean, prepared, and simple that will work well when you need it, is not easy to break and is easy to use — “Squaddie proof,” as they call it in the British Army.

Telling lies

What’s your favourite Military related analysis tool?

Traffic Analysis

  • Key assumption checks used at the start, middle and end of a project
  • Analysis of Competing Hypotheses
  • What-if analysis
  • Devils advocacy
  • Brainstorming

However, the best analysis tools are a piece of paper and a quiet room. Place pictures and words on the page and then try and link them. Move things around; put them into patterns. Don’t over think and things will start to emerge. Verify and prove them to move forward.


Presenting Tools

Keep it Simple

To keep it simple, the general delivers a succinct, inspiring message everyone understands and replaces the SWOT diagram with something called a Map. Maps are simple to understand and, when in the battlefield, maps can be drawn in the sand with features recreated with pebbles and bits of stick.

From these maps, commanders in the field build models of specific areas and buildings they need to focus on. The Military teaches us all to keep things simple, work as a team, prepare well and, in order to ensure we know what to do and where to go, use a map.

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