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6 Actions a CEO Can Take to Bolster the Competitive Intelligence Impact

Your CEO is its figurehead representing the company’s values and driving positive change. If your CEO doesn’t support the competitive intelligence team and publicize its achievements — or, even worse, if he or she rejects the intel team’s insights and recommendations — then your competitive intelligence efforts will fall short for the following reasons:

  • The CEO won’t share information freely with the intel team.

  • Other people in leadership or decision-making roles won’t be as eager to collaborate or share information with the intel team.

  • The intel team won’t have the reputation and respect required to overcome resistance to change.

  • Everyone who initially supported the intel team will get discouraged, and innovation will grind to a halt.

Your CEO may not be a pathfinder, but if her personality of change is at least an organizer with some listener mixed in, you have a good chance of bringing your CEO on board and up to speed on the value of CI.

Communicate support through moments of symbolism

Public recognition is one of the most effective ways to reinforce an individual’s importance to the community, and your organization’s CEO is the prime source for that public recognition.

To reward valuable contributions to the intel team and motivate employees to continue to help the organization achieve success, your CEO should celebrate their achievements in front of the entire organization, if possible, or in front of an entire department.

He should acknowledge contributions and innovation, thank the people who are responsible, and present them with a valuable token of appreciation (perhaps a gift card for a fancy dinner out) on behalf of the entire organization.

A reward given in private has little, if any, motivational impact. An award given publicly as a big deal is the ultimate motivator.

Conduct executive team intel briefings

Your organization’s entire executive team should support the intel team’s efforts, gather information and pass it along to the intel team, and take advantage of the intelligence that the intel team produces. To encourage the executive team’s support and engagement with the intel team, the CEO should either conduct or host executive team intel briefings on a regular basis — quarterly or monthly.

Conducting executive team intel briefings is not only good practice for keeping everyone on the executive team in the loop but also serves as a symbolic gesture expressing how much the CEO values the intel team’s role in the organization’s success.

Circulate and support competitive intelligence briefs

Although the intel team may be responsible for distributing intel briefings to your organization’s decision makers, another option may be for the intel team to route all or some of its intel briefings through the CEO. When briefings come from the CEO, they’re likely to carry more weight.

Broker partnerships between the intel and strategy teams

Because the CEO sits at the top of the mountain, figuratively speaking, she has a big-picture view of how all the pieces of the organization work together, and she has a greater influence than anyone else in the organization over how each department functions. The CEO is also uniquely positioned to pull people and departments together to work on strategic initiatives.

As the CEO builds strategy teams in response to perceived opportunities or threats, she needs to broker partnerships between these teams and the intel team.

For example, if the CEO assembles a team to pursue an acquisition, the intel team needs to be brought in to provide the strategy team with the information and insight it requires to make well-informed strategic decisions, such as whether or not to move forward with an acquisition.

Encourage product and sector leaders to leverage intel

Although a CEO may be wise not to micromanage product or sector divisions, he should encourage the decision makers in those divisions to leverage the power of CI in making informed decisions, identifying opportunities, and spotting potential threats.

Without such encouragement, product or sector divisions may start to operate as silos (that is, act independently) and become vulnerable to the same stagnation and bureaucracy that can infect the organization as a whole.

The CEO should also encourage product and sector leaders to pass along any relevant information to the intel team for processing, analysis, and distribution.

Feature the intel team in company communication

A great way to communicate the CEO’s support for CI is to feature the intel team and its accomplishments in internal communications from the CEO, which may include the following:

  • Internal memos celebrating the intel team’s contributions to key strategic initiatives

  • A CI column in the company’s internal newsletter reporting on the intel team’s accomplishments and current projects

  • An internal CEO blog that regularly mentions the intel team’s contributions to the organization’s success

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