Competitive Intelligence

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Peak Intel: How So-Called Strategic Intelligence Actually Makes Us Dumber

I'd like to share for the community, Eric Garland's new piece which made it all the way to the front page of


As you'll note, his intro will hit quite hard for any CI Pro:
An industry that once told hard truths to corporate and government clients now mostly just tells them what they want to hear, making it harder for us all to adapt to a changing world -- and that's why I'm leaving it.

Eric has never been short on dexterous insight for the CI community, and this piece is no different.  After reading his article, I can't help but ask, "Where do we go from here?"



Eric's piece has created no small stir of buzz, including this video interview on The Alyona Show:

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Where do we go from here? Absolutely nowhere until this desperately flawed, manipulated and corrupt "system"  finally collapses on itself (which it is doing in real time regardless of the MSM, pundit protestations to the contrary) because it is so fundamentally broken. Why? Simple, the elitists have a vested interest in protecting the status quo at all costs because it enriches them, hence they will absolutely not concede things cant go on as they are, until well, they can't...

So, what's the break point? When all the Fed ponzi money fails to stimulate the economy, inflation is rampant, real unemployment is in excess of 33%, no one shows up at the next POMO auction and there isnt any real growth? Oh wait, all thats already true. When ZIRP ends and interest rates return to the mean of 5% which would put debt service at over 50% of the federal budget? I dont know the answer to that Zach, I wish I did.....but I do see the statistical manipulations getting significantly larger which tells me things are spiraling out of control...and there is far too much "perception management" going on (that's all that seems to be going on) and if one studies history- these elements normatively indicate change is coming....

In closing, Eric should ultimately be applauded  profusely for having the chutzpah to lay it on the line and tell the unadulterated truth. That's the mark of a REAL intelligence professional and the profession should take a good hard look at itself when the best and the brightest are running for the exits....



Thanks for posting here, Zach. Eric's article raises some important points about our profession. It's valuable and important than we should be able to conduct a sober and empirical analysis of the value we bring to our stakeholders.

I've blogged my thoughts here:

I'll go on record as being largely in agreement with Eric's general premise that strategic intelligence has less apparent value today than it has at any time in the past. An important question I am asking myself and my fellow practitioners is: what do we do about it?

Hello August,

Spot on! We had best be asking ourselves precisely that question. For IF we allow ourselves to continually be co-opted in favor of providing confirmation bias and platitudes because its too unpalatable/politically untenable/scary to acknowledge  uncomfortable truths, the most important being that we are irrefutably on an  unsustainable path- when everything does finally come apart and it will, any credibility we have left will evaporate. The story after the next KABOOM when the  blame is getting dished out will inevitably be that the Intel community failed, we didn't point out the realities and its all our fault.... So its put up time. Does the larger group have the chutzpah to stand up and have professional integrity? Obviously you, Eric and I do. Anyone else?

With utmost respect,


I guess we need to be heading mainstream organisations to do justice to our profession. 

Thanks for the comments Monica, Eric and August, as always...huge respect.....I am standing up to be's that Jerry Maguire Moment or something more definable within each of us that says, 'I'm not happy to sit/stand there and take that'.  Some of us respond in many different ways and by giving up do we let's not give that volunteering, delivering with more passion next time than last time, communicating with greater clarity than last time, getting the message out through other medium, like video or nothing is not an count me in Monika, August and Eric...if not Jerry Maguire, then Spartacus.

Again with utmost respect,


Hi August,

As explained in my previous replies, Eric's main arguments rely on the fact that large corporations are getting far apart from free-market conditions and thus the value of strategic intelligence vanishes in that particular context for the reasons Eric elaborates on.

What can we do about it?

As a CI vendor, I noticed that there is a large market for CI tools and practices beyond large corporations: Let's focus on S/M businesses for which intelligence is as critical as for large corporations.

Some large corporations, even after mergers, even when looking like huge conglomerates still act as small/medium business aggregates. Those entities require intelligence equally.

In a nutshell, I agree with Eric that large corporations may benefit from new strategic intelligence methods (applicable to highly regulated, oligopolistic markets) and we may reach a intel peak for those types of operations however I see a new age for intel as far as SMB market is concerned.

Well said Chris!

I'll be hosting a one-hour webinar Wednesday 11 April (yes, that's tomorrow!) at 4:00 PM Eastern time with Eric, August Jackson, Jason Voiovich, Craig Fleisher and Derek Johnson considering the implications of Eric's essay and what we do next. Register at:

Consider your questions - we'll be taking them live - and the session will be recorded in case you can't make it or we fill up the limited seats available.

Looking forward to what should be a fascination discussion of this intriguing topic! Craig

After reading just a few paragraphs in Eric's Atlantic article, I thought, 'Wait a sec . . . I've read this before. Oh, no. I've got that wrong. I've lived this."

The self-confirming nature of intelligence analysis and reporting which he points to is, sadly, not just a characteristic of the "new normal." This business debilitating process was well in demand when I was doing intelligence consulting back in the 90's, and was probably in demand even before that.

Here's a link to the recording of Wednesday's discussion in case anyone who wanted to review it was interested:


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