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Mindset is more important than skillset for CI - Discuss

Over the past few years, I've had conversations with colleagues and clients about how to hire for CI positions. The longer I do this work, the more I seek out those who think a particular way rather than those that necessarily have specific CI experience or skills. Of course, having both is ideal, but I will take a creative, curious thinker who is always asking questions and thinking several steps ahead over someone who has mastered Five Forces, online searches, etc.

What's your opinion? If you agree, what implications does this have for the development of the discipline, and in particular, any certification program that SCIP or others produce? Can these skills be taught?

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“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.”


“Attitude is the way you mentally look at the world around you. It is how you view your environment and your future. It is the focus you develop toward life itself.”

The 1997 movie "Dante's Peak" in which Pierce Brosnan acted as the underdog volcanologist and predicted, against his boss's skilled use of tools, the eruption was imminent and the town needed evacuation, provides, IMHO, a more powerfull illustration of Mindset winning the war against Skillset in the end.
And the biggest learning provided is that the best mindset will make the appropriate use of the skillset, and, let's not forget, the toolset!

While the Mindset relates to an emotional state of mind that can "feel", the skillset is clearly the IQ that can "reason". As such, we can agree that all human have the feel and reason in itself with different levels of acuity. To support this, I'll remind of Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, 1995) who argued, and I don't disagree, that emotion (my description of mindset) can be taught and learned.

If we all agree that mindset/emotion and skillset/IQ are in all of us with different intensity, and if we agree that mindset/emotion can be taught (let's limit our reasoning to the original question), then how best to explain it, teach it to subjects that has a lower intensity of it?

I'll venture a quickie here, leaving the details to Education pros to elaborate on how best to achieve the desired teaching result based on how many ways human can learn (by seeing, watching, doing, feeling, etc.): let CI learners experience mindset in various aspect and various conditions with the serious warning that similar causes in similar conditions may not always produce similar results.

Ulrich Houzanme
Fascinating discussion. It seems that most (or all) of the replies agree with the idea that mindset is more important than skillset for competitive intelligence. If I am not oversimplifying, it seems that innate thought processes driven by our personality types influence how we approach the puzzles of competitive intelligence. The actual techniques used to decipher the puzzles can be learned more easily than changing someone's personality. I agree with all of that.

Now, how about an extension to this discussion?

I think that people (i.e., relationships) are more important than mindset or skillset in competitive intelligence. If I am right, being good with people is more important than being a superior analyst. There are three reasons why I think that this is true.

1. People supply and interpret information. Developing primary sources, nurturing alliances within an organization and facilitating fruitful debates among leaders and colleagues is critical. This is a non-trivial task for a CI person to orchestrate.

2. Marketing to strategy leaders affects our success. So much of competitive intelligence is understanding our customers and meeting their needs on an ongoing basis. The senior management relationship can be the key difference between success and failure.

3. CI (often) leads to strategy changes. Change management is where the rubber meets the road and where we often fail as CI professionals. Sometimes we are content to do the analysis but we leave the organization leaders to struggle with the implications of the analysis. Helping people through change distinguishes superior performance from that which is mediocre.

What do you think?

-- Tom
Hi Tom,

"Truth is rarely pure and never simple" - Oscar Wilde

Relationships are important. But how many of us are really good because it comes from within ie it is our nature and not because we masquerade.

Masquerade, reminds me of Lionel Richie's "Say you say me"

......................I had a dream I had an awesome dream
People in the park playing games in the dark
And what they played was a masquerade................

How many of us NEVER EVER compromise our sources for:

"For a Few Dollars More" or a "Fistful of Dollars"

Check out MICE and 6 Degrees of Separation.

"Heart may or may not have a reason or no reason.
Maybe the reason doesn’t know the existence of heart?
Maybe heart is beyond reason?
Maybe heart has reasons that don’t want the reason to know.
Maybe Life has no reason:
Maybe its immaterial whether - and -if - life has a reason or no reason -> Unless Life has a Goal".

You have not understood what Tom Hawes says.

Please read and comprehend. It is in english. It reminds me of another discussion where someone just skimmed the surface and "Not see beyond the Obvious"

Try and interpret and understand "super compression". If there is "super compression" and you cannot find super compression literally, you must try and interpret it and join the dots.

Understand why we do "super compression". A thing may NOT exist in "super compression" form in OSINT but if you interpret it, then you may understand that one thousand words are "super compressed"

What Tom Hawes has said, is perfectly true.

Tom endorses the interplay of Mindset-Skillset.

What Tom and I were doing was that we were escalating the discussion to another level ie "Relationships"

We are talking about "Real Life" and not "reel Life" here Rishabh.

Tom and I are interweaving. Understand where we are trying to escalate the discussion.

Interpret correctly, like for example the entire Theory of Evolution can be super compressed in a single quotation.

So if a person has not said the quotation literally, it does not mean that when we interpret "Theory of Evolution" by the same person, he has not said the same thing in a thousand words.

Super Compression means Distilled ESSENCE. So a thing may NOT exist in super compression form, but that does not mean that is not the ESSENCE of what a person really said in a 1000 words

That is why "Truth is rarely pure and never simple"

You refuse to understand English.

This is NOT a theory class that we have to indulge in intellectual prostitution.

Tom and I are discussing REAL life, which requires work experience in Intelligence.

Try and understand what Tom means, rather than talking theory.

Do you even know the "Context"

It is real problems in REAL life and not reel life.
Hi Tom,

Dissonance always exists. I feel factors which create dissonance are:

1. Ideology bias

- Political Ideology
- Individual Ideology
- Religious Ideology

2. Influence of Class system

3. Influence of Caste system

4. Socio cultural environment

5. Kinship

6. Peer pressure

7. Acquired knowledge not perceived properly

8. Wisdom from the learning curve etc., which results in prisoners of perception

As far as facilitating fruitful debates in the organisation is concerned, I feel that we must open our Analysis to criticism. Especially to those "With malice to one and all"

The rigorous Brainstorming must ensue! and we must see whether our Analysis stands the litmus test of criticism.

I feel Senior Management can be classified into three areas:

1. Corporate Strategy - Senior Management
2. Business Strategy - Senior Management
3. Functional Strategy - Senior Management.

The problem I have noticed here is that the "Corporate Strategy" Senior Management has the Perception to comprehend "The Implications" whereas "Business Strategy" Senior Management and "Functional Strategy" Senior Management suffer from Perception Dissonance.
Vivek, Rishabha, What do you think about starting a discussion about the role of opinionated mindsets/discussions in CI?

Anyone may have opinions and the purpose of debating may serve both parties so that each one increases his knowledge and collaborative inputs can take place fruitfully.

My opinion is the tone of this discussion is somehow offensive and its content might be more constructive. As an alternative, this discussion may be moved to the private sphere.

I agree with your observation Chris and I have even started to wonder about the coherence of some of the comments here, not with the objective to discredit any particular member or deny them their universal right to express themselves, but just that it is hard "for me" to follow "le coq a l'ane" style.

One should be patient, but such patience should not be unlimited and I once again approve of your point and hope all other members do te same.

Ulrich houzanme
i duly have to oppose your point .. that people are more important than mindset or skillset..
there is never a gr8r thing as the human brain , as far as i believe and its mystifying forces in coagulation with the nature..

But, what i meant to say is that, Information is vital and it can be ellicited easily from any individual, if the CI professional has the power.. But its the mindset, as Leonard Fuld says,CI professional should have an impressionist picture comes with utilisation of the skillset..

As in India, Lord Siva & Goddess Shakthi co-exist,
like, information and human !


Tambi, way to go dude. I know Rishabh was hinting and steering the discussion to this realm, I know he was right. Alright lets take it to the realm of INSIGHT.

I saw the problem in using Hindsight and Analytical tools. Any tom, dick and harry can use these tools and subsitute us.

Using Hindsight, limits Scenario Planning to work on "Worst case scenario" and working on "Probality x Impact Matrix" just lets us assess or identify the probability and likelihood of occurence.

But is "Early Warning" about Probability. I agree with you that Early Warning should be about "Prediction" rather than probability.

For this we need to delve in the realm of:

1. Para Psychology
2. Esoteric Science

This will help us understand Shiv-Shakti concept.

Shiv the CI expert and Shakti ( the Kundalini) which gives us "Insight"

Tambi, it is Human Evolution to the next level ie using Hindsight ( OSINT + HUMINT) and Insight (Kundalini) to FORSEE ie Predict.

At that moment in time, when we can use Kundalini (INSIGHT), then we can FORESEE.

This will keep CI experts at the top of the game and nobody will use subsitution effect to make us obsolete.
You hit the nerve of the keys to success in any enterprise or position or for that matter, life. "Social Intelligence" has been coined to encompass all those attitudes or behaviours that make the individual thrive in his micro or global societies, be it at work, at home or online. And it certainly explains why some individuals with high IQ don't make while a low IQ person with good social behaviours (Social Quotien, SQ?) makes it successfully in life or at work. My favorite readings on the subject are all from the Harvard graduate, American Psychologist Association's Carreer Achievement awardee and decade long New York Times brain and behavioral sciences writer, you are right to gess, Daniel Goleman.

Certainly, the most long lasting relationship between a CI professional and his environment, this relationship will benefit greatly from a good social intelligence understanding and practice. Awareness is important and you have rightly pointed to it. However, is Social Intelligence alone enough to guarantee that a CI professional will be top of senior management mind when it comes to solving serious business problems?

Who do Executives think of when in need of Intelligence? For example, who does a President think of immediately on a 4 am phone call? Certainly not of the one who has mastered Social intelligence alone, but who may be best able to help with the situation. And in this sence, Knowledge on one's craft is the first commodity (mindset, skillset, toolset alltogether as one) and the ability to socially connect with the environment comes second.

In the end, the equal blend of top notch CI and Social expertise will be the perfect potion for success. But is perfection part of this world?

Ulrich Tibaut Houzanme


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