How to Brief the Decision Makers on Competitive Intelligence
As a member of the competitive intelligence team, you play the role of advisor, providing your organization’s decision makers with the information and insight they need to implement positive change. Because of this, you must be skilled not only at analysis but also at communication.
You need to lay out your case in as convincing a manner as possible and present the information in an easily accessible format. You also need to get your recommendations into the hands of the right people at the right time.
How to create a competitive intelligence briefing sheet
Before you contact your organization’s decision makers, prepare a competitive intelligence briefing sheet. Make sure that your briefing sheet includes the following details:
Classification: Indicate the relative sensitivity of the information: highly classified (so sensitive that only executives should see it), confidential (highly sensitive but important for more people to see), sensitive (internal eyes only), or general (not sensitive).
Priority: Indicate the urgency to take action: urgent, important, or normal (FYI). Another option is to use a 1-2-3 rating system:
1: Critically important, drop everything! Use this rating when you have strong signals from very reliable sources that call for an urgent response. Use this rating rarely so it has impact when you really need it.
2: When-you-get-a-free-moment urgency: The executive team really needs to consider this within the next few weeks, but urgent action isn’t necessary.
3: No urgency — continue to monitor: The information is provided for briefing purposes only. No action is necessary.
If a senior executive is in a meeting and receives a text message flagged with a 1, he knows it’s important enough that he needs to step out of the meeting. This system has proven highly effective in communicating the importance of information.
Your name and today’s date: Include your name and today’s date for obvious reasons.
Summary (see): Compose a one- to two-paragraph summary of the information, primarily your observations.
Insight/significance of information (mean): Compose a few sentences that give meaning to the information or put it into context.
Your recommendation (do): Add your recommendation. What do you think the organization needs to do in response to the opportunity or threat you described?
Be assertive. Any recommendation you make should be a clear call to action. If your recommendation sounds wishy-washy, circle back to do additional research until you can convince yourself that action needs to be taken and what that action is.
List of sources: Include a list of sources that the decision maker can consult for reinforcement to add credibility to your report.
How to distribute your competitive intelligence briefing sheets
After creating your briefing sheets, you need to distribute them to the decision makers on a need-to-know basis. Team up with the executive team to create a need-to-know distribution list. Group people on the list according to classification levels, such as
Highly classified: Executives only
Confidential: Executives and management only
Sensitive: Everyone in the company
Have a system in place to change a person’s classification so that if an individual is promoted or submits his resignation, for example, his access to sensitive information is changed accordingly.