On planes, trains, and bedside tables, good business books are filled with the opportunities that flow from fresh insights. We make it a habit to read as many of them as we can, and we make recommendations at classes, conferences, and just about everywhere we go. This article builds on a previous one on we offered about recommendations for your competitive intelligence bookshelf, because as time marches on, we all need new things to read.
Finding New Approaches to Refine Everyday Challenges
Profound insights aren’t the only transformative influences; small additions to the ways you are already handling competitive intelligence projects are often the keys to greater success:
- Research on Main Street (M Phelps) provides structured open-source intelligence techniques to uncover localized information, an invaluable skill set for researching specific market geographies and smaller companies.
- Wikis and Intelligence Analysis (K Wheaton et. al.) introduces the potential of wikis as a tool for collecting, synthesizing, and organizing intelligence.
- Harvard Business Review is a near-limitless source of insights about topics great and small; competitive intelligence practitioners can zero in on most topics using the Review magazine, website, podcast, and more.
Looking Deeper at the Work of Michael Porter
Michael Porter is widely regarded as the father of the modern competitive strategy field. Every competitive intelligence professional should go beyond Porter’s Five Forces by reading at least a few of his most important books:
- Understanding Michael Porter (J Magretta) is arguably the best place to start an in-depth study of Porter’s work, with useful summary and clarification that can make the primary texts more accessible.
- Competitive Strategy (ME Porter) is the classic text about applying a structured approach to predict competitor behavior; this book is a must-read for anyone involved in business strategic positioning.
- Competitive Advantage (ME Porter) complements the concepts in Competitive Strategy by examining how individual companies can use them to gain the upper hand over competitors.
- The Competitive Advantage of Nations (ME Porter) extends Porter’s analysis of competitive forces to consider how prosperity is actually created on an international scale.
Gathering Far-Flung Perspectives
Everyone’s horizons need to be broadened now and then, and looking at things from a different perspective can make all the difference; the following books can help:
- Investigative Reporter’s Handbook (B Houston) reveals methods and techniques used by journalists that are directly applicable to competitive intelligence practitioners to mine information from public sources.
- Certain to Win (C Richards) applies the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, and act) concept developed by military strategist John Boyd to business, where it functions as a powerful competitive intelligence framework.
- Reverse Innovation (V Govindarajan et. al.) explains the implications to business strategy from the trend toward innovation originating from outside the countries traditionally characterized as the “first world.”
- The Wide Lens (R Adner) details the danger of focusing inside one’s own company for business insights and presents approaches for analyzing the roles of outside factors such as co-innovation and adoption chains.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart