Competitive Intelligence Lessons From the Past

This article, called Competitive Intelligence lessons from the past offers two stories to highlight the uses of Competitive Intelligence. The first one involving Pearl Harbour and the other British Artillery.

Our military thought that they couldn’t get to Pearl Harbour, that it was too long a journey from Japan to get there, and they proved us wrong” – Jerry Bruckheimer

Pearl Harbor

There were intelligence failings before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Intelligence failings included:

  • The US Navy kept the information to themselves and did not cooperate with the Army
  • Poor communication with the military and Washington decision-makers
  • Responsibility split between the Navy and Army to crack the Japanese codes
  • An unwillingness to think the impossible
  • No genuine desire to take action

So, where is your Pearl Harbor attack in your organisation? Is there a competitor out there who could prove you wrong?

Hold your horses

The British Army’s transition from horse-drawn to truck pulled artillery pieces was not going to plan. The troop were struggling to fire their guns fast enough. 

They noted while filming the soldiers’ actions before firing each artillery round, that the soldiers ran 30 feet back from the weapon and clenched their fists.

The senior officers were perplexed and could understand what was going on. But an old artillery warrant officer isolated the problem “They are holding the horses”. That’s the horses they used to haul the artillery into position and tended to scoot when the loud bang happened. So they had to hold their horses to stop them from running away.

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 helps prevent those “hold the horses” moments. This story is taken from Gunfire at Sea by Elting Morison.


This article, called Competitive Intelligence lessons from the past, offered two stories to highlight the uses of Competitive Intelligence. The first one involves Pearl Harbour and the other British Artillery.

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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.

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