Outside versus Inside CI Help

February 25, 2016

One ongoing question is whether/when to go outside for competitive intelligence versus DIYing it. I am not going to get into the whole issue here, but I just want to deal with two aspects of it, familiarity versus diversity.

In the case of an overload, going to a source which is closely related to or even connected to you is often preferable. What do I mean by that? It could be a CI unit which serves a different part of your firm, or an outside firm which includes individuals who used to work for your firm, or which has worked for your firm so long it is almost another department. The familiarity speeds the collective effort. And in some cases, the extra effort may be invaluable.

Getting past the issues of your overload, an outside CI firm also possesses what we call expertise. Or as a Nobel Prize winner put it (good credential, no?), “An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them.[1]” So, if you have a knotty problem, an outside firm may be a valuable source of expertise you presently lack or can never replicate.

Remember, when you are seeking expertise as opposed to extra minds, you should be looking for something/someone, well, different from you. That means that closely related is not a benefit. As noted in The Economist recently, “There is…evidence to support the commonsense idea that encountering people with different ideas and different perspectives can boost creativity.”[2]

[1] Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Prize winner 1932.

[2] Schumpeter, “Diversity fatigue”, The Economist, February 13, 2016, p. 67.


One Comment on “Outside versus Inside CI Help”

  1. […] One ongoing question is whether/when to go outside for competitive intelligence versus DIYing it. I am not going to get into the whole issue here, but I just want to deal with two aspects of it, familiarity versus diversity.  […]


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