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Mar 26 / heathgross

Stupid, Stubborn or Ignorant? Part 1

If your company is not leveraging competitive intelligence (CI) to support their business decision process, then they are either Stupid, Stubborn or Ignorant.  What is your company’s excuse?

When it comes to the need and benefits of competitive intelligence, I am not one to sugarcoat things, I believe in being honest and blunt, even if at the cost of being tactful.

Several years ago our firm was approached by a manager from multi-billion dollar global manufacturer.  This manager, we’ll call her Beth, had been assigned the task of “looking into competitive intelligence”.  Keep in mind, this was one of perhaps four responsibilities Beth had been assigned, along with various market research and business intelligence tasks.

Beth did not know anything about competitive intelligence.  That’s not her fault necessarily, I meet lots of smart business professionals that have never heard of the term.

Beth did not have any training, or budget, or support staff, but what she did have was a request from management to go out and gather some specific information about a competitor.  Beth was not sure where to start or how to gather the information, so she turned to my firm, Sedulo Group.  We were glad to help.  We walked Beth through our service offerings, being sure to clearly and articulately explain the purpose and methodology behind competitive intelligence.  Convinced this was what her company needed, Beth asked us to pull together an RFP for a project that would address her bosses’ question.  We did.  The RFP was approved and the budget allocated.  Sixty days later we delivered a final report to Beth and her leadership team and everyone was happy.

Inspired by her new understanding of the power and potential of competitive intelligence, Beth began lobbying her employers to expand the use of CI within the company.  She understood that her company, a large, sprawling, global manufacturer of hundreds of products, could benefit tremendously from having a consistent and accurate view of their competitive landscape.  Beth pressed hard, using her one-off project as a case study for why the organization needed CI.  At the end of the day her requests went unanswered.  Her call for help, her plea for corporate support, fell on deaf ears.

Stupid, Stubborn or Ignorant?

stu·pid

adjective

a: not intelligent, having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things

b: given to unintelligent decisions or acts :  acting in an unintelligent or careless manner

stub·born

adjective

a: refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something

b: unreasonably or perversely unyielding

ig·no·rant

adjective

a: lacking knowledge or information

b: resulting from or showing a lack of knowledge

In this case Stupid AND Stubborn, but not ignorant.  Maybe they could hide behind the ‘ignorance is bliss’ defense before Beth began waiving her report in their face… but after that, well, there is just no excuse.   Stupid – “given to unintelligent decisions or acts”, Stubborn – “refusing to change your ideas”, yea, that about sums it up.

Over the next two years we watched the company struggle against their competition.  Beat to the punch by upstarts, disrupted by disrupters, held hostage by suppliers; all the while planning their strategic moves in a vacuum, unaware of the competitions’  intent or plan or strategy.  They are still around of course.  They still churn out good products and maintain decent margins, but I can’t help but think how much better they could be, if only they weren’t so Stupid and Stubborn.

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