Reference: Ben Gilad – Strategy without intelligence, intelligence without strategy

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Strategy without intelligence, intelligence without strategy


Competitive intelligence (CI) began to make inroads at a few leading-edge US companies such as Motorola and Kellogg back in the mid-1980s. Since then, companies have been investing in personnel, software, and consultants’ services to systematically monitor their competitors. At one point in time, (old) ATT had over 30 people in its business services division’s CI department, and pharmaceutical firms were not far behind. Today, 90  percent of all Fortune 500 companies have some form of formal CI activities. Yet, ask top executives to recall one occasion of how CI affected their strategy, and they go blank. Ask them who their intelligence analyst is, and they have no idea. At an age when ‘‘rising global competitive pressure’’ is on every executive’s lips, why has CI failed to leave real impact on companies’ C-suites?

The answer is deceptively simple: companies never built real competitive intelligence capabilities. Instead they created elaborate and detailed practices for closely monitoring competitors’ every little move. How important is bird-watching to an airline pilot flying at 39,000 feet? Competitors just do not matter that much to executives, and rightly so.

That is the good news. The bad news: they never built real intelligence capabilities.  Executives short-change themselves like a ship captain navigating in thick fog without radar.  Worse, while around him the horns are blaring, he listens only to his iPod.

Benjamin Gilad is President, Academy of Competitive Intelligence, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

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Benjamin Gilad, (2011) “Strategy without intelligence, intelligence without strategy”, Business Strategy Series, Vol. 12 Iss: 1, pp.4 – 11

Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to point out how little competitors matter for companies' long-term success, how little support executives receive with intelligence that does matter, and to offer a different solution.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses numerous examples of competitive failures and success that point out the limits of competitors' impact on a company's performance. It covers the theory of strategic positioning and industry change drivers and provides a practical definition of strategic intelligence.

Findings – Competitors do not matter to executives; “competitive intelligence” has been misinterpreted as competitor-watching and has therefore had no real value to executives, and companies leave their executives vulnerable to disastrous blindsiding.

Practical implications – Companies should and could markedly improve their intelligence support of top executives, but need to rethink their whole approach to competitive intelligence. Companies can also significantly improve the way they monitor the competitive environment by redirecting their efforts.

Originality/value – Executives are short changed by their organizations' own processes of closely watching competitors. For the first time, this paper exposes the myth that competitive intelligence – as practised by more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 – has value for executives and offers a unique approach to improving companies' strategic intelligence capability.

Review: Business War Games–How Large, Small, and New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies and Outmaneuver the Competition

5 Star, Budget Process & Politics, Change & Innovation, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Force Structure (Military), Future, Games, Models, & Simulations, Information Society, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Leadership, Public Administration, Strategy
Amazon Page

Ben Gilad

5.0 out of 5 stars Core Reference Introducing Hindsight Games

January 11, 2011

Not a single one of the other reviews mentions “hindsight games” which come at the end in Chapter 12, where Ben Gilad, whom I know and admire, properly lists Helen Ho and Matthew J. Morgan as the authors.

At the age of 58 with 30+ years as an intelligence professional behind me, very little catches me by surprise but this is one of those exquisite “ahas.” For me, the insights into hindsight games as a means to retrospectively identify strategic, operational, tactical, and technical junctures, where participants can reflect on what they knew, what they did not know, what they had wish they had known, and how they might advise the next generation to state its intelligence requirements differently–for me this is an intellectual gold strike.

I have never heard of any of the war colleges or strategy centers or major corporations or NGOs doing hindsight games. This for me is HUGE, and Ben Gilad's integrity is high-density–although the plan of the book properly puts the chapter at the end, after his concepts and doctrine and methods for business war games are outlined, this is the chapter that every one of the eight tribes (academic, civil society, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, non-profit or non-governmental) should be thinking about.

Hindsight games are a perfect means of both debriefing out-going executives and mission area specialists, and of transferring lessons learned from one generation to another in a super-professional manner.

I am reminded of Kristan Wheaton's still relevant book, The Warning Solution : Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload, and believe that would make an excellent HindSight Game pre-read, pulling in seniors and mission area specialists to talk about what proper warning and better intelligence might have allowed them to do these past twenty years.

Continue reading “Review: Business War Games–How Large, Small, and New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies and Outmaneuver the Competition”

Review: The Art and Science of Business Intelligence Analysis

4 Star, Intelligence (Commercial), Strategy
Amazoi Page
Amazoi Page

Too Expensive But Two Top People Cannot Be Ignored, July 5, 2008

Benjamin Gilad and Jan Herring

Although this book is dated and too expensive, Ben Gilad and Jan Herring are as good as it gets in the field. I recommend this book for corporate competitive intelligence collections–individuals should consider attending the Academy of Competitive Intelligence and look for less expensive works, such as I list below.
Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, and Create Powerful Strategies
The New Competitor Intelligence: The Complete Resource for Finding, Analyzing, and Using Information about Your Competitors
The Secret Language of Competitive Intelligence: How to See Through and Stay Ahead of Business Disruptions, Distortions, Rumors, and Smoke Screens
Strategic and Competitive Analysis
Super Searchers Do Business: The Online Secrets of Top Business Researchers (Super Searchers, V. 1)
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption

Not listed on Amazon, but available via the web from the UK, is Ben Gilad's book Blindspots, which I continue to regard as the single best work for a CEO willing to consider the possibility that their information is inevitably filtered, biases, incomplete, and late.

Who’s Who in Commercial Intelligence: Ben Gilad

Alpha E-H, Commercial Intelligence
Ben Gilad
Ben Gilad

Dr. Ben Gilad, considered a leading developer of competitive intelligence (CI) theory and practice in the US, is a former Associate Professor of Strategy at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Management. Gilad’s first CI books, The Business Intelligence System (1988, AMACOM, co-authored) and Business Blindspots (1994, US: Probus/Irwin; 1998, UK: Infonortics), paved the way for the CI evolution in US corporations, many of which emulated the basic principles of Gilad’s CI process model. He is the co-editor of the definitive analysis book, The Art and Science of Business Intelligence Analysis (1996, JAI Press), reprinted and updated with Jan Herring in 2008.

In 2004 Gilad published his breakthrough book, Early Warning (AMACOM, 2004), which defines for the first time a new role and scope for CI practitioners based on his innovative work with two strategic early warning systems in two leading global corporations. For this new risk management perspective of CI, CI Magazine labeled him “our CI guru”. The Society of Competitive Professionals honored him with its highest Meritorious award in 1996.

Early Warning
Early Warning

Review: Business Blindspots–Replacing Your Company’s Entrenched and Outdated Myths, Beliefs and Assumptions With the Realities of Today’s Markets

5 Star, Intelligence (Commercial)
business bllinkspots
Amazon Page

Seminal Work for Commercial Intelligence, May 8, 2008

Benjamin Gilad

This is one of a tiny handful of truly useful, insightful, and applicable books in commercial intelligence.

Page 1 has the following line that I continue to cite:

“Top manager's information is invariably either biased, subjective, filtered, or late.”

True then, true today, and also applicable in government and in the non-profit world.

The other vitally important quote:

“Using intelligence correctly requires a fundamental change in the way top executives make decisions.”

Ben Gilad, Babette Bensoussan, Jan Herring, Leonard Fuld, Mats Bjore, Arno Reuser, and Steve Edwards are the only minds that I consider to be at the pinnacle of the profession. No doubt there are others, but these are the ones that in all of my reading, have never, ever, been displaced from the top rank once I understood their work.

Buy this book used, it is a CLASSIC of enduring value. Buy anything published by this brilliant practitioner.

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Review: Early Warning–Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, and Create Powerful Strategies

5 Star, Intelligence (Commercial)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Core Reference for Business Leaders,

December 7, 2003
Benjamin Gilad
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links. This remains a core reference.

Ben Gilad, arguably one of the top five practitioner-scholars in the competitive intelligence arena (the others, in my opinion, are Jan Herring and Leonard Fuld, his partners; Babette Bensoussan in Australia, and Mats Bjore in Sweden), makes a very important contribution with this book. It is for business leaders what Kristan Wheaton's book, was and is for government leaders.

The author's earlier book, “Business Blindspots: replacing myths, beliefs and assumptions with market realities”, remains one of the single best references for business intelligence professionals (but only available from Infonortics UK), together with Babette Bensoussan and Craig Fleisher's Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition

I regard this book as being primarily for the manager of the business enterprise rather than the business intelligence professional, primarily because it is very helpful in breaking through old mind-sets and suggesting that very specific attitudes and activities must characterize those endeavors that wish to avoid costly surprises. I would say that this book, together with Yale business author Jeffrey Garten's book, The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda For Business Leaders are “must reads” for the senior executive who desires to not just survive but to excel in the 21st Century.

The author, who has a solid understanding of the history of surprise in military or national security circles, makes the point that surprise does not occur for lack of signs that can be detected, but for lack of a culture and mind-set open to seeing and understanding those signals.

The book combines survey results from professionals attending the Academy of Competitive Intelligence (the single best offering in the world) with real-world accounts, “gray box” supplementals, and “manager's checklists” at the end of each chapter that are in essence an executive summary of the chapter.

This is a 2-3 hour read, and well-worth anyone's time, but especially well-worth the time of the executive who is willing to consider the possibility that they are grossly unaware of real-world external threats to their future bonuses, and that there might be some relatively simple low-cost solutions to dealing with the threat that require, rather than vast sums of money, a change in mind-set.

Other recommended works on my short list (with reviews):
Measuring the Effectiveness of Competitive Intelligence: Assessing & Communicating CI's Value to Your Organization
Keeping Abreast of Science and Technology: Technical Intelligence for Business
The New Competitor Intelligence: The Complete Resource for Finding, Analyzing, and Using Information about Your Competitors
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

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