Competitive Intelligence

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What don't CI people help each other more often?

This may seem like a strange topic in a forum designed for interaction and help. (Probably the people here are more likely to help others than the general population of CI professionals.)

Nevertheless, why is it that many CI people tend to share few stories, problem solving techniques and solutions with their peers?

I can think of possible reasons though I don't know if my list is complete. Here is my "one person" brainstormed list.

1. By the nature of the function, CI people are looking for and, in some senses, guarding secrets which cannot be disclosed.

2. There are legal and company restrictions on talking about techniques or processes that are being employed.

3. Maybe the common personality types of CI people are disinclined to share.

4. Perhaps sharing does happen but it is not readily evident (unless you are directly involved).

5. It could be that we lack the structures or frameworks to share. (Competitive Intelligence Ning is an exception.)

6. Some sharing does occur but it could be less applicable to most people's jobs. Maybe the advice or observations are not widely practical.

7. It might be that there is a lack of commonly used definitions of CI problem solving approaches so that vocabulary hinders sharing.

8. Maybe everyone is too busy to help others. This especially could be true if there was little chance for reciprocation.

This is all speculation for me. Do you see a lot of sharing throughout the industry? Are there other reasons that you think might explain when sharing happens and when it doesn't?

Tom Hawes
JTHawes Consulting
Strategically Thinking Blog

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I give up. :-)


Thanks for your comments. They stimulated me to think about when I respond affirmatively to implicit or explicit requests for help. Here are my "10 rules" for helping. As I wrote them, I realized that they generally apply whether the subject is a professional issue in competitive intelligence or helping someone in the community.

1. I help when I am pretty sure that there is something in it for me. The nearer the benefit, the more likely I am to help someone.

2. I help when I am asked specifically and personally to help. I respond infrequently to broad (i.e., addressed to large groups) requests for help.

3. I help when the subject of the request is a cause that I believe in or that inspires me.

4. I help when asked by someone that I like, admire or want to get to know.

5. I help when I feel that there is something specific that I know or can do to address the request.

6. I help to return a favor that was given to me.

7. I help (though with less enthusiasm) when my role demands that I help someone.

8. I help when I see someone struggling through no (little?) fault of their own.

9. I help when I think that the help will be sincerely appreciated.

10. Finally, I help when it makes me feel good about myself.

Tom Hawes
JTHawes Consulting
Strategically Thinking Blog


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