By Dr. Ben Gilad, ACI Faculty

In 1999, when Jan Herring and I founded the Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence, we were the first to create a full curriculum for competitive intelligence education but it was centered on analysis and organization, not collection. When Fuld & Co. joined us in 2001, we rounded up the curriculum with collection courses as Leonard Fuld was the leader in competitive research.

It took a decade, and our curriculum became the basis for every other training program in CI. Jan and I even published a piece early on encouraging others to think of CI as an independent discipline and develop it via training (combining theory and practicum).

And now, again, I am taking the Academy in a different direction. It’s called reality check. It has nothing to do with competition – no one comes close to our stature. It has everything to do with the vision for the CI role in organizations shared by @Ken Sawka, @Dr. Helen Rothberg and myself.

Leadership in any field is not about following customers’ demands. Michael Porter already said, if you try to make every customer happy, you don’t have a strategy. Leadership is about offering customers paths they haven’t thought about to achieve their goals.

Our vision is for CI to spread beyond a dedicated role and to become an essential skill set for every manager facing the competitive arena. We are already on our way to accomplishing this: More than half of our trainees are from business development, strategy, marketing, and product management. They may or may not have any CI responsibility, but they need CI skills to outsmart their competition.

Collection is changing

The main change in our curriculum is to increase the analytical component, and simultaneously, redirect the collection training. Our trainees are not going to become human search engines if I can help it. They need to know how to elicit information, especially but not exclusively from internal sources (their newly focused community of practice). In that we have come full circle back to the real art of human source collection Jan and I pushed way back in 1999 (turn on the Lion King’s theme song, please). We actively encouraged them to reduce and reshape their role away from “information practitioners.”

Analysis is the future

We are adding two analytical courses: structured analysis – a set of practical analytical tools beyond the fundamental frameworks I teach in the Blindspots and Cross-Competitor Analysis courses, and reporting & communication of intelligence. The latter is a clear indication we are preparing them to actually report to management and hold management’s attention for more than one slide and 4 minutes. Both courses will be taught by @Ken Sawka, whose experience in actually consulting top executives is one of our greatest assets.

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