In Search of Human (Competitive) Intelligence Part 2:

Authored bycascade

Three Sources for Tips in the Search for Human Intelligence

To learn from collective experience gained during the human intelligence process, you should keep notes about what works and what doesn’t to share with the rest of your organization. It is valuable to invest the effort to synthesize that information into a set of best practices, aided by external resources that have already recorded such insights. The following set of sources can help you on your way in assembling your best practices:

  1. Qualitative research techniquescan come from disciplines that range from competitive intelligence to market research to investigative journalism. The Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) website is a great place to start, as is that of the Marketing Research Association (MRA). Both include a broad range of discussions, documents, and other resources that can illuminate approaches to gathering and analysis of human intelligence.
  2. Social-networking-analysis toolscan reveal insights about the relationships between people you may be considering, as well as making you aware of other potential interviewees. Your organization’s best practices can benefit dramatically from tools such as NodeXL, which graphs the social-network connections from one person to others, as well as Twiangulate, which shows mutual followers and friends between two or more people.
  3. Draw from the field of journalism, since reporters have a long-established body of expertise in eliciting information from people. One resource to consider is Brant Houston’s Investigative Reporter’s Handbook, which provides a thorough but accessible treatment of these topics. We also suggest that you review our earlier discussion about technology tools that can be valuable in this area.

This is the second of four blog posts related to human intelligence collection by competitive intelligence organizations. The first one, “Three Aspects of Identifying Humans,” describes how to get started, including figuring out who to contact and getting them to participate. The third, “Three Ways to Bias Your Interviews (or Not),” suggests some considerations that can help you avoid bias in your interviews. The fourth and final post, “Three Pieces of Ethical High Ground to Protect at All Costs,” illuminates some ethical guidelines to keep in mind as you interview subjects for human intelligence.

By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart

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