Competitive Intelligence books

As a CI analyst and researcher, I am a dwarf on the shoulders of giants – and meeting those giants at conferences, listening to their latest real-world examples, and reading their books are three of the main sources when you want to stay up-to-date in a discipline (apart from the usual subscription of RSS feeds of CI-related blogs).

Let me list some of my favourite readings – some of them are classics of CI literature, some of them provide helpful insights from adjacent areas like consulting, government intelligence, business strategy, and management theory. I have referred to some of these contents in my own book on Competitive Intelligence which was published in German language by Cornelsen in 2006.

One classic and a reference for all who want to master the human intelligence part of CI is „Confidential“ by John Nolan, which I was happy to get a copy very soon after I discovered the discipline in the first place. I strongly recommend it – all about elicitation techniques, practical guidelines, ethical boundaries, and various lessons from the trenches of intelligence collection at its best.

Richards J. Heuer Jr. and Randolph H. Pherson have written a handbook on „Structured Analytical Techniques for Intelligence Analysis“ which covers intelligence analysis from a government intel point of view, but it is highly readable and useful also for competitive intelligence practitioners. They not only describe numerous techniques, featuring scenario analysis or the analysis of competing hypotheses (just to pick up two examples) in a very structured way but they also refer to practical problems during the process of collection and analysis. No wonder: Richards Heuer is author of the ground-breaking „Psychology of Intelligence Analysis“, another must-read for every analyst in the intelligence community.

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