Oil and water

April 28, 2015

Research indicates that CI professionals spend excessive effort (both time and money) on data collection[1]. Experience indicates that the optimal distribution of effort (whether measured in terms of time, dollars, or a combination) among the 4 stages of CI activity is approximately as follows:

  • Establish Needs – 20%
  • Collect Data – 30%
  • Analyze Data- 40%
  • Disseminate CI – 10%
Lesson for those involved in DIY’ng CI: Focus your time on analysis more than on data collection. That is probably not what you are doing now.

What about dividing up the work of CI? Based on our experience, we have found that the skills most useful in Establishing Needs tend to be those most useful in Analysis of Data as well. Conversely, the skills most useful in Data Collection tend to be similar to those needed for Dissemination.

All of this leads to a potential guideline for building a CI team. Look at the 4 stages, and see how they might be allocated between, for example, 2 people (since making one person responsible for both Needs and Analysis would give him/her 60% of the total work load):

 

CI Stage %of Total Team Effort First Person’s Share Second Person’s Share Comments
Establish Needs 20% 7% 13% approx. 1:2 ratio
Collect Data 30% 27% 3% approx. 9:1 ratio
Analyze Data 40% 7% 33% approx. 1:5 ratio
Disseminate CI 10% 9% 1% approx. 9:1 ratio
Totals 100% 50% 50%  

 

This division allocates the work fairly (50-50) while playing to each person’s strengths.

Lesson for those involved in DIY’ng CI: Identify your weaknesses among the 4 stages (identifying strengths is too easy) by ranking them from weakest to strongest. Then plan your work and/or seek assistance/training to handle the weakest first.

One quick way to visualize this is think of the First Person as Archie and the second as Nero. Who are they?  They are Rex Stout’s memorable crime fiction characters, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. Archie was primarily tasked with collecting evidence (data). On rare occasion, he did solve a mystery (analysis) as well. Wolfe, on the other hand, rarely left his New York Brownstone, but rather told Archie what to look for (establish needs), and then spent days mulling over what Archie reported back to him, solving the mystery (analysis). It was a very, very rare event when Wolfe left home to seek out evidence (data).

There is now ample evidence that purposeful staffing to acquire people with a radical divergence in skills, attitudes, and perspectives can provide important contributions, not otherwise possible from more traditional models of staffing[2]. In doing CI, that means creating a team that combines at least one Archie with at least one Nero, that is, purposefully joining skill (and almost certainly personality) mismatches, not best matches.

[1] See Chapter 3 in John J. McGonagle and Carolyn M. Vella, The Internet Age of Competitive Intelligence, Praeger, 1999, for details on the supporting data.

[2] See Rich Karlgaard, “Diversity’s Central Paradox”, Forbes, May 4, 2015.


One Comment on “Oil and water”

  1. […] Research indicates that CI professionals spend excessive effort (both time and money) on data collection. What about dividing up the work of CI? Based on our experience, we have found that the skills most useful in Establishing Needs tend to be those most useful in Analysis of Data as well. Conversely, the skills most useful in Data Collection tend to be similar to those needed for Dissemination. All of this leads to a potential guideline for building a CI team  […]


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