Of all the books we recommend to our clients, trainees, and students, some of the most valuable are the ones that give a slightly new take on familiar subjects. They might introduce a novel concept or two as well, but most of the real “ah-ha” moments from the books on this list come in the form of ways to make what you’re already doing more useful:
The Thinker’s Toolkit (Jones). Critical-thinking skills are the foundation for competitive intelligence work, and for avoiding the mental shortcuts humans seem hard-wired to take. Especially to influence leaders and decisions, it’s vital to check your own biases and those of others. This book is arranged in bite-sized chapters, so the reader can efficiently absorb its analysis techniques, which range from the simple to the complex.
Profiting from Uncertainty (Schoemaker and Gunther). This nice, crisp read demonstrates a number of ways to refine scenario planning for competitive intelligence. While scenario planning isn’t a quick and dirty exercise, it can be very valuable. For example, when reverse-engineering a competitor, scenario planning can help reveal the future state they are targeting, their path to get there, and how you can seize the advantage.
Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach (Clark). Many books come out of the public sector and claim they apply to the business world just as well, but most of them fall flat. This book is one of the few that does a great job, taking techniques and approaches the author refined over a career in military intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency and showing how they can be successfully applied in the private sector.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart