This is Your Brain on CI – Part 2 of 3Posted: July 14, 2015
July 14, 2015
When you are doing competitive intelligence (CI), you are relying on your own intelligence to drive your research and analysis. But your brain, like any other part of your body, needs proper care and conditioning. What follows here and in the previous part and next part are a few notes on what works for me – and has worked for others as well. Your suggestions and comments are, of course, very welcome.
In this second part, let me deal with retraining your brain.
When I recently was taking physical therapy, one of the first exercises I had to do was to walk backwards on a treadmill. This was done to force me to think about how I was walking, which was a part of therapy. It is a very interesting idea because we don’t think about walking because we do it all of the time. The same is true with analysis.
CI analysts think about analysis because they do it all the time. So what we should be doing is trying to find a way to expand our analytical skills by doing things differently. For example, many times I have advocated sorting and reviewing the data first while you are collecting it, and again when you’re done with it, conducting your analysis. How? By source, date, reliability, reverse chronology, etc. You select it. The idea is for you to start reading the raw data differently from the way that you collected, received, or structured it. When you do that, you are looking at it through “new eyes”.
This is particularly important when you are doing the problem definition, the research, and the analysis. You lack “other eyes”.
In terms of relaxing from doing analysis, we all, well almost all, play computer games at some point. Games? Sure, fantasy football, solitaire, Sudoku, mahjong, etc. You don’t play any? Maybe you should. Why?:
First, you need to relax. Playing a game for a minute or so forces you to separate yourself from the work you just finished. And that is never bad.
Second, computer games may actually help your brain relax. Really? Well, there is new research that shows that “[s]lotting the colored blocks of Tetris into their places is both satisfying and addicting. But it could also be healing.” Give it a try.
Third, switch to doing things one at a time. What, (gasp) abandon multi-tasking, the sign of the modern hard worker? Yes. “You’ve likely heard that multitasking is problematic, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain.”
Fourth, in line with the suggestions in the previous part, try different games, at different times or in different places.
It’s your brain, take good care of it.
 See, for example, Part 11.4 in John J. McGonagle and Carolyn M. Vella, Proactive Intelligence: The Successful Executive’s Guide to Intelligence, Springer, 2012.