4 Ways Your CEO Can Improve the Competitive Intelligence Impact

The success or failure of an organization hinges on its ability to capture the future and to act on that information. The CEO–competitive intelligence team partnership is the most effective way to keep your company ahead of the curve and in the game.

Having the CEO on board doesn’t necessarily make or break your CI program, but here are some ways that a partnership with the CEO can benefit the CI team.

Serve as chief intelligence officer

If your organization has no official chief intelligence officer (CIO), then your CEO may want to claim that title, too. As CIO, your CEO must take over the following duties:

  • Sponsoring CI: Communicate CI’s value to the rest of the organization and encourage everyone in the organization to share information with the intel team and take advantage of what it has to offer.

  • Publicizing CI’s achievements: Nobody carries more weight in singing the praises of CI than the CEO.

  • Helping identify strategic areas that are most likely to benefit from CI: The CEO probably has a fairly clear vision of where CI can benefit the organization most.

Your CEO is probably very busy and has little time to serve both as CEO and CIO, so take as much of the burden as possible off her plate.

For example, you can do most of the heavy lifting in publicizing the intel team’s achievements (for example, by writing articles for the company newsletter) and simply ask your CEO to sign off on what you’re doing and put her name behind it.

Feed information to the intel team

Your CEO probably has a great deal of knowledge and insight about the industry, competitors, suppliers, technologies, processes, and the markets that your organization serves. He knows which potential threats keep him up at nights and is (or should be) always on the lookout for potential opportunities.

In addition, the CEO often has exclusive access to special briefings, reports, or conferences where industry or technology trends are discussed. Your CEO needs to pass this information and insight along to the intel team systematically to ensure a constant flow of time-relevant data.

Formalize the intelligence-gathering process by department, including the CEO, so all employees are aware of the role they play and have an easy method to enter fresh information into the system. If it’s too complicated, people won’t do it, and that includes the CEO.

Battle resistance to change

A few organizations are built on their ability to execute change. Whenever a potential opportunity or threat arises, everyone is energized and eager to formulate and implement initiatives in response to the situation.

Most organizations, however, especially those that have been around for several years and have been successful doing things a certain way, are change averse. They operate by the motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and they don’t realize anything is broken until it’s too late — after a more agile competitor puts them out of business.

Your organization’s CEO is in the best position to spearhead change. If you can convince your CEO to enthusiastically support a proposal, that support is usually sufficient to overcome any resistance in the organization.

If you’re unsure whether your CEO will support a proposal, then work with your intelligence cluster to gradually introduce an initiative and build some momentum. If you can gain buy-in from 10 to 25 percent of your organization, that should be enough to overcome any resistance to change.

Cheer on the intel team

As a group of professionals, the intel team doesn’t need cheerleaders for motivation, but when the CEO cheers on the intel team, she communicates her support for CI and encourages others in the organization to support the team by sharing information with it and taking advantage of the intel that’s produced.

While the CEO cheers on the intel team, the intel team should cheer on the people within the organization who help it succeed. When someone feeds a key piece of information or a clever idea to CI, be sure to give that person a shout-out in a meaningful way, perhaps by adding an “attaboy” or “attagirl” mention of the person’s contribution in an article in the company newsletter.

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