One key difference between being a spy and a competitive intelligence practitioner is that the intelligence community may use force (in the case of interrogation) or deception (in the case of elicitation) in gathering human intelligence. In contrast, a competitive intelligence practitioner relies on interviewing techniques, which can be well informed by the approaches taken by investigative journalists:
- Engage subjects in lively, interesting interviews, which is vital to drawing out information that can inform the goals of the larger initiative.
- Allow the story to unfold according to the facts as they emerge, rather than confining it to initial assumptions, while still guiding the interview according to preset goals and requirements.
- Be alert to inadvertent disclosures from interview subjects, while vigilantly avoiding deception or misdirection to intentionally bring such disclosures about.
This is the third entry of three related to comparing and contrasting competitive intelligence to spycraft. The first post in this series, “Three Spycraft Approaches versus Business Ethics,” shows how some approaches to information gathering that are common in the intelligence community are not appropriate in the business world. The second post, “Three Tales from the Market Researcher and the Spy,” describes the influence of the market research field.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart