What not to do – a conversation with Sean Murphy

Here is a conversation I had with my colleague Sean Murphy a few days ago. Some of it is tongue-in-cheek but there are real lessons here based on what I’ve seen people do in my 20 years of working inside large and medium corporations. It really comes down to these ideas:

  • Stop collecting random (and often redundant) information on competitors. Until you know what you’re after, and what to do with it, it’s very inefficient.
  • Stop using SWOT unless you’re prepared to take a hard look, really hard, at your weaknesses. Failing to do this can lead you to misinterpret threats and the whole thing can become a Silly Way of Thinking.
  • Stop assuming you have buy-in for your competitive strategy. It’s very easy to hear what you want to hear. In contrast, it’s very hard for people to say what they know you don’t want to hear. You should avoid the former and cultivate the latter.

What you should do is the following:

  • Engage your managers and line personnel much more effectively – give them tools, direction, and feedback on competitive intelligence actions.
  • Filter and focus the competitive information you collect. It’s not all that helpful to know what is in competitors’ press releases because it is often already too late to react.
  • Encourage debate. As a commenter on Sean’s post said (quoting from the book “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure”): “It is not enough to tolerate dissent: sometimes you have to demand it.”

You can also download the mp3 file if you prefer.