Competitive Intelligence And Lessons From The Military Gets Things Done

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Competitive Intelligence and lessons from the military gets things done

We explain how Competitive Intelligence and lessons from the military gets things done. You can learn from the military to make sure you put everything in your packs and belt in the same place. The same place as everyone else. 

So, when you reach for a new ammo magazine, you are not picking out a hairspray can. Or, if there is an injured soldier, you know where their first aid kit is. So, you use their first aid kit, not yours, as you may need yours later. 

Motivation to get it right

During basic training, soldiers are encouraged and motivated by regular team assessments. So, for example, the sergeant will walk around and chat with his team. And just check that their kit is up to standard and packed away in the right place. If not, over coffee, they are told to think about why their kit location needs to be in the same place as their co-worker. 

Not really. The field inspection entails a kit inspection at any time. And those who have not done as instructed are beasted around a field for half an hour. The reason for placing kit in the same place as everyone else is down to learning many lessons. Many lessons and no doubt many years ago. The military learns and creates Standard Operating Procedures. Standard Operating Procedures get things done. Especially when a debate about it would get your head blown off. 

Taking action

When it comes to doing something. Taking action. Getting on with it, you have many directions you can move. Thousands and thousands of ways. Each direction will waste your resources. So it’s important to execute your plan within constraints and boundaries. Hopefully, this will save you time and resources. You may already do this, but it helps to understand the process behind the common sense. After all, common sense is often not common practice. 

Once you know where you want to go with your plan, it is important to think about the delivery sequence. First, to put things in place, so you understand how far along you are to achieving your objective.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive intelligence offers certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.


Setting milestones on the journey is important. It allows you to take note of where you are and get their too slowly or quickly. As things get more complex and uncertain, you will come to a point where you need to make trade-offs. 

By realising you are making trade-offs, you can understand what you have lost. To understand any learning points. Determine other future trade-offs you may have to make. Can you do anything to reduce the subsequent trade-offs? Make a note of everything that has happened during your journey to the objective. To learn and understand what you can do better next time. At the same time, consider another question. Is the objective the right one?

So you begin to develop best practice for an action. The military calls them Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Standard Operating Procedures

These are repeatable blocks of work or action to make you more efficient. They can also be a great way to reveal a need and create a new product or service offering. 

The military also teaches you to look at the situation on the ground. And see if local changes to SOPs are required. Depending on patterns you find, you can change what you do in certain situations. Putting them into writing with SOPs ensures that other teams are aware of what to do. And the changes are sent up to the command for approval and acceptance.

Hold your horses

This story is taken from a book called Gunfire at Sea by Elting Morison. It’s a great example of showing why changes in SOPs are required when new systems are put in place. And to explain to everyone why they are in place. 

The British Army’s transition from horse-drawn artillery pieces was not going to plan. They could not be fired fast enough.

While filming the soldier’s actions, something interesting happened. Before the firing of each artillery round, soldiers ran 30 feet back and clenched their fists.

This perplexed senior officers. But an old artillery officer isolated the problem “They are holding the horses”. They were following extinct procedures with no knowledge of why they were doing it.

Businesses can also miss the most obvious things and assume nothing ever changes. Competitive Intelligence and revising SOPs helps prevent those “hold the horses” moments.

More certainty

Without more certainty, none of the above will work properly. The grab for a spare magazine will reveal sandwiches. SOPs will not be consistent. Without more certainty, you will be unsure which direction to go. Granted, it’s not often this will happen to you. But you are pinned down by the enemy, your colleague is in a bad way, and you are running out of ammo. You need to take a risk and reach over to get their spare magazines. How certain would you be that you will find the ammo where it should be?

Knowledge of knowing the answer

The only thing that provides certainty is the assurance of knowing the answer. So yes, everything we do and every successful operation has to be based on Intelligence. Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Intelligence or Business Intelligence. Whatever it is called, it’s all about finding the answer to create more certainty.

Competitive Intelligence and lessons from the military gets things done


Competitive Intelligence and lessons from the military gets things done shows that everything has its place. And how you learn from what you do and making sure SOPs are in place. And, hopefully, a realisation that it’s all about certainty.

So finally, a question. Look at your colleague. If you had to reach for their ammo, how certain would you be that it would be where it should be? 

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What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

This is a drawing of the Octopus Intelligence Logo By Octopus Competitive Intelligence, Due Diligence, Competitor Analysls, Market Analysis, Competitor Research and Strategic Business Development to beat your competitors, increase sales and reduce risk

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