It's the people, stupid! The human factor in the Collaborative Competitive Intelligence

On last Tuesday I attended the Digitalising Manufacturing Conference in Coventry and enjoyed it very much, because not in vain I devoted the first 15 exciting years of my career to what is now called Industry 4.0. In his closing speech, Ken Young, CTO of the MTC, focused on people.

This is significant, if we consider that the Conference was dedicated to the latest advances in automation, which a layman could consider is "reducing the dependence on the human factor". However, without the contribution of people there is no possible success.

In Le Concert, I described the new paradigm of Collaborative Competitive Intelligence. With Collaborative Intelligence we can make the best tactical and strategic decisions thanks to the knowledge distributed throughout the organization. But the implementation depends especially on the people, and secondly on the chosen technical solution.

To implement Collaborative Intelligence we require at least one of the following two components:

  • Corporate culture

Or, in the absence of the previous one,

  • Discipline

Let's see what are Culture and Discipline, and a Simile to illustrate the difficulties when implementing a Competitive Competitive Intelligence Function.



Culture is what happens when the boss is absentOften I have been asked what "corporate culture" is. My answer is always the same: Corporate culture is what happens in the company when the boss is absent. How the team behaves, how it solves problems, how it serves the client, how it shares knowledge, ... when there is no written guide to follow, or someone giving orders or whom to consult. Culture eats the Strategy for breakfast . And, as my teacher Bill Aulet said , it also " eats Operational Excellence for lunch, and everything else for dinner ."

If when I discover something that can help a companion I do not share it with her, let's assume that I am not going to contribute something to the company in the abstract sense "to reinforce the collective knowledge". Of course, this may be because of lack of a tool that facilitates the creation of Intelligence. But if we have such a tool and there is no collaboration, then what happens is that we do not have the necessary Culture.

Hiring information sinks will reduce the company valueThe reasons for not having a corporate culture can be diverse. First of all, maybe we did not intend to create Culture when we recruited the team. We have focused on hiring professionals with knowledge, and "the culture" is a concept we have discovered later. It is much easier to incorporate people who align with the culture of the company than to try to re-educate them. Hiring people who assimilate knowledge but do not generate it ("information sinks") will lead the company to have less value than the sum of its individuals (and it is even lower in value when they compete with each other). It is also possible that the management team has changed, or the company's own mission, and our target Culture is no longer the same. We ourselves have undergone that transformation in antara. How to handle this lack of alignment of the team with the company culture is not the subject of this blog, so we will leave it to the experts in the field.



If the team does not collaborate on its own, the only way out is the Discipline. In this case, implementing a Collaborative Intelligence Function requires three components:

  • The Leadership of the C-level.
  • A Carrot.
  • A Stick.

Without Culture, the team will move according to the leadership it perceives. Here again I'm asked "What is leadership?". My answer: Leadership is by example. If Management does not participate in the creation of internal value, there is no Example, and therefore there is no Leadership. The so-called "C-level" must be involved in Collaborative Intelligence. If my Director does not lead by example, why should I strive?

Discipline requires MetricsSometimes Management is not only passive but toxic. As in the Management of Innovation, Management can be involved, or on the contrary have a short-term vision, assume the role of the CFO, and devote themselves to criticizing the effort in the medium term . To ask the Innovation or Intelligence Champions to row against the mainstream is to ask for individual heroics that are rarely crowned with success.

The Carrot is the prize that attracts participation when there is no Culture, while the Stick is the punishment that I must avoid following the Discipline. The Carrot and the Stick require a common facilitating element: Metrics. What can not be measured does not exist.

Therefore, we must implement a technical solution of Competitive Intelligence that allows meassuring the individual and collective participation in the generation of Intelligence for the Decision. On these data we can, for example, give visibility or promote those team members that generate more value for decision making. We can also identify the biggest "information sinks" and try to correct the situation.



If you have not yet addressed the development of the Intelligence Function in the company, nothing better than a simile to illustrate these ideas: The implementation of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution.

The individual members of the sales team have traditionally considered that the knowledge they possess about the client, their pains, the operations in progress and their expectations of success are bargaining chips to negotiate with the company they belong to, instead of being information owned by the company. This information would allow the Management to know the real sales potential, develop a precise funnel forecast, foresee the treasury, increase the sales by cross-operations ... and a long etcetera.

Therefore, there is no greater risk for the implementation of a CRM than the lack of Culture (or Discipline) of the sales team. A sales person can keep the key information of his activity for himself, as this is essential for the company, or even neglect the quality of the information provided (in completeness and accuracy) for lack of commitment, which simply boycotts the progress of the company.

In this situation of lack of Culture, Discipline is necessary. From my experience, in these cases the Stick includes firing key people who compromise the long-term future of the company.

In the same way, the Collaborative Intelligence Function will face similar risks that must be taken into account.

Personas compartiendo información


The team involved should bear in mind that the knowledge acquired should serve to make better decisions in departmental and corporate areas. Therefore, it is fundamental that the new "part-time" analysts generate value for the whole, and do not acquire knowledge of the environment solely for their individual enrichment.

The Collaborative Competitive Intelligence Function is an activity that requires a correct management of the human team, apart from a support solution that complies with the specifications. Therefore, the Champion of the Intelligence Function must not only know in depth the technical possibilities to support strategic decisions, but also have a true and fair view of the situation in terms of Culture and Discipline in the company .

It's the people, my friend!


By Miguel Borrás

("It's the economy, stupid" its a famous phrase from the USA presidential campaing in 1992).

antara undertakes that the published content is created by its own team, customers or partners. antara never outsources content generation. The opinions of the authors reflect their own views, and not those of the company.