After a decent break I will refresh this blog with a new approach. You might have noticed that its long-term subtitle has changed – from „on business and politics of intelligence“ to „systemic views on conflicting realities“. This reflects a shift in my professional life which had been focused mainly on research and analysis in competitive intelligence, over time moving from an operative or tactical level into a more strategic direction – the bigger picture. Now it’s time for a next step.
I was in the business of connecting the dots. After fifteen years in competitive intelligence I can say that making assessments on current and future events is the easy part. The real trouble starts when you are convinced that your clients need to challenge their assumptions on a regular basis, need to change traditional ways and means, need to overcome current business models, convictions, paradigms, or even worldviews.
My quintessence from fifteen years in competitive intelligence is: If you want to be relevant, you have to show your clients what they don’t see and tell them what they don’t want to hear. They won’t like it. They will ignore you. They will deny that changes are necessary. Until reality strikes back, usually shortly after it’s too late for smooth transitions.
As an insider, being a little part in the large machinery of a big corporation, or even as an external consultant you might be able to compile hard data to provide a fulcrum – but your lever is hardly long enough to move the worldview of an entire organization. Very often you just provide the fig leaf that covers the real motives of a change in direction.
No matter how excellent your insights might be – if you’re not able to recognize the assumptions of your clients, and address hot topics in a language that leads people to accept suggestions and solutions, your job will never be finished. Unfortunately – or fortunately – you can’t enforce a change of convictions, you can only try to evoke it.
Which brings me to my next project: Changing convictions in concrete conflicts, finding sustainable solutions, turning zero-sum games into win-win situations. In short: learning how mediation works to connect people. For me, this seems to be the next logical step in a career that started with political science (the analysis of competing realities) and went on to public relations (construction of realities), competitive intelligence (deconstruction of realities) and finally, mediation (helping to find a common ground in conflicting realities).
Trust in your ability to provide actionable insight seems to be the major motivation for clients to choose an intelligence advisory. In mediation, it’s more a mix of desperation, a fear of legal costs, and the silent hope that a sustainable solution might be possible. Which, I have to admit it, is a much more comfortable position to start with…