Competitive Intelligence

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

Competitive Intelligence For Dummies Book

I just finished reading  Jim Underwood's Book and stand by my analysis.  He cites no references in the entire book yet has the gall to spend a great deal of time on validating information and sources. We teach all our our CI professionals to cite all their sources on everything.   He does use CI concepts and changes them around so he can present them as industry practices, but in effect he is plagiarizing others works.  For instance he uses 10 forces to describe market forces, when in fact he mixes STEEP analysis with Porters 5 forces, not exactly the same idea.  He uses a four step CI cycle that is way too simplistic for use--modeled after Shewart's Plan, Do Check Act cycle .  He tried to pull in John Boyd's OODA loop and butchers the meaning of what John Boyd's OODA loop is really about.  I will say most miss Boyd's point but I feel he dropped in the OODA loop because a lot of management books try to, inappropriately in most cases, do it as well.  There are some things that clearly show his ignorance of the CI industry. Technically there is nothing inaccurate, but what he offered could be done in a 3 page essay not a 362 page book.  He actually says promotes sending your CI staff to Tradeshows and Conventions as part of a rewards or recognition program.  For some reason he ends the book with a Chapter titled "Ten signs your organization is in trouble" and I find it hard to see where it fits in the book.  Examples provided don't have any correlation to do with the chapter he is talking about they are just cute vignettes interspersed throughout the book as all the Dummies books do. He lists 7 factors for competitor profiles that would be totally useless in any competitive bidding process. This may be a symptom of money hungry publishers, but I think it was a mistake to pump out this type of garbage.

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Thanks for the review, Richard. No references/bibliography is weak.

I've turned Craig Fleisher into a big Boyd fan, he read the Corum biography this spring and loved it – hopefully he will properly write about Boyd theory and CI someday. Btw, Boyd Hall at Nellis was re-dedicated this June:

Yes. Trip is correct in that I've now read several books on Boyd and his concepts. Great stuff... but I've seen VERY few (any?) authors in the traditional (and I use that word with all due caution) CI space, which some folks will argue includes me, translate it effectively back to CI practice. I am certainly giving thought to doing it myself, and remain hopeful that time and publishing constraints permit my doing right. If I can't do justice to it, I'm likely to remain a quiet advocate of his venerable ideas.


There is a podcast from the guys of Cascade Insights where they talk about Boyed. By the way, they even say something about the book Certain to Win:

I have to say I would disappointed by the book content but I would say it is fine for someone who has no knowledge of CI.

If some one picks the book up and gets an interest in the subject then brilliant. Even better if they are a Marketing Director based in the UK :-)


I have invested in this book already Richard and m currently going through it. Too bad I didnt read your review, but it seems that he is actually targeting the segment that knows very little about CI but is keen on getting a 'taste' of it.

The keyword is just 'taste' and not the whole dinner which misses on the starters, main course and the dessert.

A little more emphasis on Wargaming and Scenario Planning would have been great.


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