Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

This discussion will focus on issues in CI facing academics. I'll get the ball rolling by suggesting some questions we are facing that may be of interest to the larger group. Please feel free to chime in.
1. How can we get CI courses or subjects into more degree programs?
2. Are the relative lack of CI courses due more to a lack of supply (instructors) or demand (students)?
3. How can post-secondary CI educators help practitioners the most?
4. What are the best ways for teaching CI courses to undergraduates, MBAs, executive students?
5. What are the best articles you have read about teaching that informs how you go about instructing CI?
6. Which case studies work well in your CI teaching? What makes them so well and how do they support your learning objectives?
7. What readings do you like to assign to your students in your CI courses?
8. What assignments, both individual and group, have worked successfully for you in your CI courses?
9. Can an individual actually earn tenure or promoted at their institutions by relying upon their research outputs in the CI area?
10. What journals are more amenable to CI-related subject matter?
11. Which conferences are good for academics who have CI-related subject interests?
12. What web-sites are of high value to professional CI educators? Do we need new ones? Better ones?
13. What other professional groups, in addition to SCIP, are ready hosts for presenting your CI research?
14. What networks are helpful in promoting the interests of CI academics?
15. Are there granting agencies or particular foundations that you target with CI-related applications? Which ones and why?
16. What institutions would you refer a prospective doctoral student to who wants to do their degree focusing on CI?
17. What role should CI academics be playing with respect to delivering CI courses outside of our post-secondary institutions?
18. What CI courses do you instruct? Are there others you would like to instruct but aren't sure how to go about it?
19. How and what ways are best for integrating IT into your CI instruction?
20. What book publishers may be interested in publishing CI-related efforts?

I hope that will get you started. Anyone should feel free to pick up and get the ball rolling with one or more of these.

Best wishes, Craig

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Hello Craig,
I'm glad you raised this topic for discussion. In fact, I am giving a talk about this topic in the Israeli InfoWeek at the end of this month (March 31, 2008). While I can relate to all the questions you brought up, I think there are too many 'heavy' question in the list. It would probably take months or years to resolve them and the answers would fill a whole book, at least.
Basically, I think it could be a win-win situation if CI professionals teamed up with academics to create CI accreditation by universities. This would lift the profession to new heights, in my opinion.

Do you have an exact figure regarding how many universities in North America offer a course in CI?
Hi Daphne: Thanks for the reply. I had seen your name arise in several discussions recently. Your question as to the exact number of NA universities offering a course in CI is a good one. Courses here are generally semester length treatments, sometimes called "subjects" outside of N. America. There are very few, regularly offered, courses in ongoing degree programs. Mercyhurst College in Erie Pennsylvania has a degree program in intelligence, and there are any number of universities offering single units in an occasional basis. Additionally, some universities offer a "certificate program" of several courses/subjects including Notre Dame College and some others. A nice listing of these can be found at and also at One thing I will note is that most of these listings are not kept up-to-date, that courses/subjects offered a few years ago may not be offered presently, and none of these courses is "universally" accredited since the profession (if it is one -- you'll know from my writings that I would argue it falls short although it is professionalising) lacks an agreed-upon body of knowledge, publicly-offered certification programs (there are privately offered ones by folks like ACI and ICI as you may be aware), or licensing requirements.
Just a brief comment: I'm wondering if academic CI professionals are in a better position to pull in new techniques or refine existing ones by looking towards other, disparate disciplines, e.g., psychology, anthropology, biology, etc.

I'd for one be glad to learn of papers that, although not about CI per se, inform our practice.
Hi Kieran: We have to be cognizant of techniques, models and theories developed in other disciplines since our own lacks the tradition, acceptance, breadth/depth, and/or credibility to be relied upon. Until, or unless, we become a better established field, we will nearly always strengthen our own understanding by trying to determine how these disparate disciplines impact our practices and theories. I'm curious -- are you reading any papers from other disciplines that you feel have a particularly high likelihood of generating insights for CI knowledge? If so, please do share as it will be valued in this group. Thanks!
Hi Craig and Kieran-

I'd like to comment on this topic as I've thought it over a few times without taking. Here it is:

THE Discipline I believe to be indispensible to Competitive Intelligence and any practitioner is CRITICAL THINKING. Or It could sound like this backward: What is the single skill or know-how common to ALL CI practitionners/fields regardless of field of application? The answer, I believe again is CRITICAL THINKING for DECISION SUPPORT.

The CI body of knowledge or any academic CI teaching should, IMHO have an extensive focus on critical thinking skills. That being the strategic learning or the PRE-REQUISITE for entering the CI class, I am very much for a leitmotiv of the CI community sounding like this: "Do not venture in this community if you do not have what it takes to Think critically".

Craig, as you put it well in one of your answers to Michael Neugarten, "we are nearly always faced with dealing with ambiguity, dynamism, fluctuation, uncertainty and various forms of "unexplained" variance that we need to understand better than others in order to properly support our organizational decision makers". And I fully agree with you. And not to discount every other knowledge necesary to complete any of our task, we have yet to define one area that should be the backbone of our profession. Reason again to agree with your assessment and we are faced with business-unknowns and can only successfuly deal with them with sound judgement that relies on Thinking.

1-If so, then aren't we somehow missing the boat on not strenghening the CORE COMPETENCY of the CI field, when strategy, tactics, counter-tactics, analysis techniques, field knowledge come second?

2-If you agree the first question I asked stands to reason, well, "How do you think critically and how do you teach to think critically?" will be my next one.


Best regards,
Ulrich Tibaut Houzanme
In my CI course I talk about problems with individual decision making (Prospect Theory, 'confirmation bias', 'status quo bias', 'blindspots', and others), problems with group decision-making (consensus bias, groupthink, social pressures), and then I go on to present some fairly new 'wisdom of crowds' solutions. I am also active in research in these areas. I'm a firm believer of strong theory which is currently lacking from the CI field.
Dear Daphne-

I believe you are doing a great job introducing some of the decision making methodologies, avenues and issues related to them in your courses. And as you point out, the need is still there to have a consensus around a strong theory that provides a solid architecture to Competitive Intelligence.

With humility, I'd like to share some of the synthesis of my learnings to help further the discussions. Attached is a .pdf document that shows the apparent CI rudiments. But right before you observe it, here's some background that led to that outcome:

On one hand, Thinking is natural and universal and the statement speaks to the gift to human being from a superior creator. However, well-thought action is probably less universally distributed. And I'd like to think that Thinking -CI style- is much more scarce, but somehow in greater demand due to the complexity of the ever developing humanity.

On the other hand, Flawed thinking will probably support bad decision ; average thinking will probably yield average results. And when one is in the business of producing clear advantage for businesses, governments or others, then Superior Thinking ought to be -primarily- one's best asset.

So then, what could the universal core of CI look like? Comments?

Ulrich Tibaut Houzanme
Dear Ulrich,
Thank you for your reply.
There is currently an effort initiated by SCIP and headed by prof. John Prescott to develop a Body of Knowledge for the CI profession. Please have a look at this document:
Dear Daphne-
Thank you for the information. It is appropriate and I will share my synthesis with him.

Ulrich Tibaut Houzanme
Dear Craig, seeing that the techie blog will boot me out on account of my lack of savvy, let me rather stick to what's close and dear to me and that's the academe. It seems that we here in South Africa again need to think about our CI programmes. Since last you visited little has developed although the entusiasm is still alive. In South Africa, there are now 23 higher education institutions and a good number of business schools. However, none of these as far as I could determine, have dedicated CI programmes on a level that I see presented in countries like Canada, the US and Israel to name a few. Perhaps the numbers here are just too small, perhaps it's a time or will thing, but I strongly feel that unless that happens (formal high-level programmes), the CI industry will just tread water and fail to achieve its rightful status as a management tool. There are a few good undergraduate programmes and some CI as a module towards other degrees but that's about it. I suspect there is some in-house training and mentoring going on. Perhaps there are clever CI people that have had a similar experience that that have some ideas about how to go about it. Sometimes we feel rather isolated (but not defeated!) and welcome advice and ideas. For training we mainly use your and Babette's publications - they are spot-on.
Hi, just to clarify - in Israel there are no dedicated CI programs. I teach CI in one course as part of an MBA degree. There are some sporadic professional training courses, but no concentrated effort, no certification, and no academic discussion, unfortunately.
Daphne hi

I agree that there's little or no academic discussion here in Israel on CI, and most of what passes for CI courses is currently taking place through quasi-professional training workshops.

But on the academic front, please note that I'm currently giving a CI elective in the Technion's MBA, and am exploring the possibility of some CI teaching in other academic institutions too.

best regards

Michael Neugarten


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