Early warning (part 6)

July 22, 2014

Sunday on Fox News, several doctors were discussing diagnosing patients. Unfortunately, I do not recall which doctors were on, otherwise I would give them credit.

One doctor said they were really two things that a physician had to keep in mind when diagnosing a patient based on the symptoms “presented”, that is to say the symptoms which the doctor would see as well as those which the patient would relate, plus any information provided by tests. The doctor should of course, first consider what was the most likely diagnosis, that is, what disease or condition has the highest probability of being an explanation for the symptoms that the patient had.

But that doctor added that, in diagnosing a patient, the doctor also has to consider what is the most dangerous possibility that the symptoms are consistent with. In other words, it is akin to a “black swan” event, one which is extremely unlikely, but potentially disastrous.

In the context of competitive intelligence and early warning, this is probably a good model to consider. That is, when looking at the long-term consequences of actions being taken by competitor, or someone else in the competitive landscape, first determine, through analysis, what is the most likely explanation for what you see. But also then determine what is the most dangerous explanation consistent with what you have seen, that is, dangerous to your company’s operations or even its very existence.

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