Competitive Analysis Training

Training Services for Corporate Intelligence Functions

While raw information is collected, intelligence is produced by people with specific skills. These individuals collect, analyze, communicate and produce intelligence.

We train personnel in corporate intelligence positions, and provide skill training and analytical frameworks for collecting and analyzing a variety of market information. We teach skill-building techniques by ‘doing’ so that intelligence production moves forward at the same time that skills are developed. Our approach is based on the principle that, in order to derive the maximum benefit from researchers’ efforts, companies need to experience and internalize as much of the intelligence process as possible into their other strategic business functions.

For organizations wishing to rapidly improve their competitive intelligence performance, SIS International Research conducts interactive sessions with relevant stakeholders to assess performance, and guide managers to manage and implement process improvements.

Our approach helps participants:

  • Identify critical issues
  • Conduct strategic analysis, scenario analysis and reporting
  • Understand best-in-class “intelligent” organizations
  • Select the best information sources
  • Collect human source information more effectively
  • Develop new information channels
  • Gain experience from guided training
  • Implement intelligence in policy formation

Core Courses CIP™-I Certification Level

CI 101® Intelligence Sources & Collection Techniques

In this fundamental competitive intelligence course, taught for over 20 years to analysts, managers, planners and researchers of nearly every large corporation globally, you will learn creative and ethical ways to develop timely intelligence on your competitors and markets. You will learn to:

Create intelligence and identify state-of-the-art sources
Apply the most efficient and effective strategies for finding and analyzing information
Analyze privately held companies and subsidiaries
Use the latest Internet intelligence tools and techniques
Confirm rumors and improve management decision-making
Develop rapid-fire team intelligence-gathering strategies

1. "Crossing Over the Line"

Several years ago, a marketing manager from McNeil (the manufacturer of Tylenol®) stumbled onto a critical piece of competitor intelligence when visiting a printer/lithographer near his plant. While waiting to speak with the person who handled his account, he noticed glossy advertising proofs for Datril, a competing product, with "new, low prices" highlighted. When he mentioned the prices to the printer, he was told that they were part of a new campaign. The McNeil manager reported these facts at once to Tylenol® product management, which successfully mobilized a pre-emptive, price-cutting promotional campaign.

1. Did the McNeil manager act ethically? What were his obligations to the printer? to McNeil management?
2. What were the printer's ethical obligations?
3. What would you do if you were:-The McNeil manager? The printer? Datril management?
4. What are the critical ethical and legal guidelines each company should observe?

2. Demystifying The Privately Held Corporation

A mid-sized corporation with offices in the U.S. and in the U.K. has just reported a new services initiative. The company is an engineering services firm, based out of London and Cleveland, Ohio. Can you begin to determine some operating details, such as extent of leased equipment, level of automation, management structure, new strategic initiatives and long-term management goals?

1. What sources exist, both electronic as well as through primary interviewing?
2. What questions are best to ask particular sources?
3. How do European information sources differ from those in North America?
4. Where are some of the richest information sources available on privately held companies or on subsidiaries of publicly traded corporations?

3. Trade Show Intelligence - The Human Source Collection Challenge

You and your colleagues have planned to attend two of the major trade shows in your industry this coming year. You realize that the trade show is probably the greatest single source of critical and timely intelligence in your industry. The problem is that you often feel lost at these huge events, tending to spend more time collecting literature or promoting your own product or service. At the same time, you realize that your rivals have invested a good deal of time watching you and your customers.

1. How do you create an effective, efficient collection plan?
2. Who coordinates the effort?, What should his or her checklist of tasks look like?
3. How do you capture vital intelligence on your chief rival, knowing that it do es not want you anywhere near its booth or private suite?
4. How do you communicate vital intelligence to your senior management in a timely way during the course of the show itself?
5. What does an effective intelligence report look like and how do you write one, considering the time pressures and high-level of accuracy needed?

Social Networking: Best-in-Class CI Techniques

This course will review ‘the usual suspects’ in social media and also introduce some lesser known web entities that can provide deep insight into your competitive landscape. You will go beyond ‘how to find information’ into ‘what this information means.’ You will learn how to interpret the information flooding into these networks as organizations, and individuals, commit more time and effort to sharing their experience and expertise, including an organization’s product team, marketing strategy, growth plans, and more. To demonstrate this, we will examine real-life examples of the data to be found, and the intelligence to be cultivated, through platforms such as; Linkedin, FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, BlogSpot, SlideShare and more…

Those who attend this course will learn about how to target social media for specific competitive insights including, but not limited to:

Project, product, or regional budgets
Project and product timelines
Regional sales quotas and performance
User experience and voice of the customer
Product direction around new claims or features
Competitive messaging and positioning statements
Growth and expansion strategies
Organizational structure
Pre-conference intelligence

CI 202® Competitive Benchmarking & Tactical Analysis

This course builds on what you learn in the Intelligence Sources course. You will learn practical frameworks to assess competitive cost of operations, to analyze the true capabilities of a rival, as well as its immediate future actions. You will emerge with a practical toolkit to address specific business situations your company faces. Using case studies, you will:

Benchmark actual business practices and costs of competitors
Anticipate a company’s near-term tactical moves
Construct an early warning approach to monitor a rival’s changing product, service and market shifts
Cut through a competitor’s smokescreen to accurately anticipate and prepare for a competitor’s new product roll out
Learn the triggers that motivate management to use intelligence expediently
Throughout the day, we will introduce you to analytical frameworks such as competitor benchmarking, financial and cost, and new product role out analysis.

Analysis and Competitive Benchmarking
Focusing on Your Real Competitive Threats
Uncovering Your Rival'sCost of Operations - Even A Privately Held One!
Anticipating the Predator

1. Focusing on Your Real Competitive Threats

The marketplace has totally upset the balance of power in your industry over the past five years. New entrants, substitute products, even more powerful customers have emerged. You have a small competitive intelligence effort, thus limited resources to apply. In fact, if you examined the entire market, you would encounter literally hundreds of companies to monitor - far more than you can manage.

1. Which are the major competitive threats that should concern me and my particular SBU?
2. Will those threats remain the same over the next five years? If not, how might they change and which ones will likely change?
3. What factors do I have to consider when weighing each competitive threat against the other?

2. Uncovering Your Rival'sCost of Operations - Even A Privately Held One!

Our rival, a relatively new, privately held company, manages to consistently under price its products. We do not understand how - or if - it has lower costs than our business. We believe it is under pricing its products and services to gain market share. Unfortunately, this speculation can be very dangerous. If we simply react and lower our prices in response, without changing our cost structure, we will certainly squeeze our margins and our cash, plus it's uncertain whether or not we will even make a dent in the market share.

1. How do I begin to assess our rival's cost structure?
2. Is profitability or cash flow its greatest concern?
3. Can we determine its actual cost of operations and what its key cost drivers appear to be?
4. Where do I find the raw data necessary to uncover much of the cost information needed to do my analysis?
5. How can I determine the rival's strategy based on various elements of its cost structure?

3. Anticipating the Predator

Our industry has seen a rash of mergers and acquisitions, with a number of the so-called predators coming from outside the industry. The result of all these acquisitions is confusion and concern. We need the ability to anticipate potential predators, identify the sectors from which they will come and understand their overall investment or acquisition strategy.

1. Of the 400-plus predators we see entering our market, can we identify the three leading candidates to prepare a proper defensive or offensive strategy?
2. How do we construct an analytical framework to screen out all but the most likely predators?
3. What industry dynamics do we need to consider to build this filtering mechanism?

Ethical Boundaries (*Enrichment Evening Courses) (optional)

Using a Harvard Business School case, Professor Nanda will analyze the ethical challenges any manger or intelligence function must deal with on a daily basis, including potential misrepresentation, conflicts of interest, internal management disputes, and overselling findings, among others. He will challenge students to explore the “gray zone” in depth.

CI 301 Competitive Blindspots

This course, based on the analytical model developed and popularized in Dr. Gilad’s best selling book, Business Blindspots (Irwin, 1994, Infonortics, 1996), will equip you to analyze competitors as well as industries that
will significantly affect your company’s future and bring value to the top management team. Using a Harvard Business School case study, you will learn how to:

Predict your industry’s evolution paths
Understand competitors’ behaviors and predict significant competitive moves
Pinpoint competitors’ soft spots, blindspots, and strategic vulnerabilities
Assess the importance of information and the right questions to ask your collection network
Evaluate your own company’s strategy and its blindspots, as well as pinpoint its vulnerabilities
Identify sources of critical change in the market
Create proactive intelligence to preempt competitors’ strategic moves
With this course, attendees will receive Dr. Gilad’s book, Early Warning (Amacom, 2003).

Competitive Blindspots
Predicting a Rival's Behavior
Identifying Blindspots
Competitor Negotiations and Issues Surrounding Consolidation

1. Predicting a Rival's Behavior
In analyzing competitors, most companies track actions; the competitors' strategies, and its capabilities. The infamous SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) conducted by every company at least twice a quarter and on the weekends is but a basic capabilities analysis. Can you predict what competitors will do in the future from knowing what they are doing today? Can you predict which capabilities will be enforced and augmented in the future and which will be allowed to stagnate, based on the analysis of the competitors' current costs and current technologies and current manufacturing? Not nearly as well as you need to.

1. What is missing from this picture above? What will enable you to try and predict future competitive moves with some confidence beyond guessing?
2. What is the effect of executives' backgrounds on competitors' moves and do you need a degree in psychology to make predictions?
3. What is the role of stated goals? Numerical goals? In predicting competitors' collapse?
4. How do you get into competitors' heads and think like them? What are the obstacles to doing so?

2. Identifying Blindspots
The reality of industry's evolution - gradual changes in the way the industry's five major forces affect the company's profitability - does not always register with companies. The reason is that companies and their management have black holes in the way they perceive risk in their industry. These black holes — the so-called Competitive Blindspots — affect the way companies react (or do not react) to the signs of early warning (and the CI that comes with them). Identifying these black holes is crucial for the survival of the firm and the effectiveness of the CI effort.

1. Is there an analytical methodology that will allow you to identify your management's blindspots?
2. Is there a way to identify competitors' blinders?
3. If you could identify a competitor's black holes, what can you do with it?
4. What is the role of culture and executive background in promoting (or discouraging) blindspots? Can you do something about them in your own company?

3. Competitor Negotiations and Issues Surrounding Consolidation:
Cronin, the CEO of the second largest electronic components distribution company in the world, faces a dilemma. He believes that the industry is about to go through consolidation and that only large distributors survive. However, his attempts to interest several competitors in entering talks about mergers have failed spectacularly.

1. Is there an economic reason why his competitors refuse to enter the talks, or is it basically ego?
2. What are the forces that bring about consolidation in an industry and where does it stop?
3. Can you predict what Cronin will do next based on his history?
4. What does Cronin really think of his competitors? (Hint: It is not what it seems! It never is.). How does it affect Cramer's strategy?

Communicating CI to Sr. Management (*Enrichment Evening Courses) (optional)

This highly interactive course, featuring a former Dale Carnegie trainer and workshop leader, will show you how to get decision makers to sit up and take notice of the critical intelligence you have developed. You will learn the "tricks and tips" of oral communication. Through exercises and feedback sessions, you will practice how to present your analysis with poise, confidence, and impact. Specifically, you will learn how to:

Determine what decision makers want and how they want it
Discover which delivery style is best for your audience
Instantly improve your ability to establish rapport with your audience
Disagree without offending others
Facilitate constructive dissention
Make complicated competitive analysis easy to understand
Make an intelligence report more effective
Present with computers, wall charts, or white boards with confidence

CI 302 Cross-Competitor Analysis

The goal of this high level course is to enable you to simplify predictions of competitors’ moves and countermoves when multiple competitors are involved. You will learn how to:

Refine your understanding of competitors’ behavior when there are several significant competitors
Use strategic mapping – a tool no intelligence analyst should do without and no executive should overlook
Analyze paradigm shifts in industries undergoing rapid change or transition
Test your ability to make predictions about industries and competitors based on assumptions and minimal data
Discover nuances and complexities of analyzing divisions and subsidiaries of holding companies and large diversified parent companies
Use analytical frameworks, such as demand analysis, life cycle analysis, and portfolio analysis in evaluating competitors, customers and partners

Cross Competitor Analysis
Making Sense Out of a Complex Competitive Landscape
Industry Changes and the Entry of New Competitors
A Shift in Distribution Channels

1. Making Sense Out of a Complex Competitive Landscape
General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota have similar strategy when it comes to breadth of product line. The Fiat Group, VW group, Honda, Citroen, Nissan, Isuzu and Mitsubishi, to name a few, follow a different route. Porsche is a remaining symbol of a once large group of manufacturers that had a specific strategy on price and disappeared within a short decade. The Koreans, by and large, have changed their strategy over the past decade with only limited success. BMW is in a class by itself when it comes to product line strategy, with unclear consequences, but easy prediction.

1. Can you put all this confusing information into a chart that will enable your bosses to grasp the industry evolutionary path with one look? (Hint: Yes! One look, guaranteed!)
2. What do you do when you need to first describe, and then predict the strategic moves of a large number of companies?
3. Why were the Koreans only partially successful? Why is BMW in a tentative position? Why doesn't everyone move to the most desired position in the industry?
4. Would a strategic map fit your industry? How do you select the variables?

2. Industry Changes and the Entry of New Competitors
The Chain Saw industry is going through a gut wrenching change. This is definitely a structural change - one that can destroy a company or make it very prosperous. The change involves an emergence of a whole new class of buyers.

1. As an intelligence analyst, how do you analyze change — any change?? What do you report to management? Do you bombard them with the statistics? (Hint: Not if you want to make it to director)
2. How do you develop a scenario regarding the future effect of the change? What drivers do you take into account?
3. Can you predict exactly what a company will do in response to the change and how it will end up five years later? (Hint: Definitely.)
4. If you want to analyze the response of a Swedish company to this structural change, do you need to speak Swedish? (Hint: Yes.)

3. A Shift in Distribution Channels
Your industry is going through a change in distribution channels. More and more emphasis is placed on large retailers. At the same time, the market is growing by leaps and boundsin one segment and stagnating in the other. The change in volume is very significant. Several companies produce private label. Many others use small distributors who offer full service.

1. Analyze: What is the first thing that will happen in the industry given the above sketchy data points?
2. Predict by logical inference: What will small distributors do in reaction to (1) above? (Hint: What will you do?)
3. How difficult is it to predict competitive moves? What do you need to make your prediction more than a guess? How helpful is CI analysis in bridging gaps in the data?
4. What is the "secret" of successful strategies in time of rapid change?

CI: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (*Enrichment Evening Courses) (optional)

Cliff Kalb, former head of Merck's Global Competitive Intelligence group will have a lively and frank discussion of his own experiences on "CI in the Trenches".

Immediately following course 4 "Cross-Competitor Analysis", Cliff will spend the next hour and a half presenting a no holes-barred discussion of his experiences. You will learn how CI theory is applied in the trenches in a global multinational pharmaceutical company — the good, the bad and the ugly. Specifically you will learn how to:

Grow and mature as a practitioner by learning from mistakes made in a fascinating strategic case history.
Break down the steps of a CI assignment into discreet project management tasks.
Level set expectations by proper scoping of work and participation in multidisciplinary teams.
Minimize fire fighting by pro actively managing the CI producer/consumer relationship
Properly prepare KIT's execute against them, deliver insight and close the loop with feedback.

CI 303 Creating & Running a World Class Intelligence Operation

In this course, you will learn what it takes to develop and run a world-class intelligence operation that contributes to the organization's bottom line. Whether you are a lone CI practitioner or manage your company's intelligence department you will benefit from our faculty's expertise in developing corporate intelligence programs that are considered among the leading competitive intelligence systems operating today, as well as the most benchmarked by SCIP members worldwide. World-class intelligence practices such as the Key Intelligence Topic (KIT) user-needs identification process, selection of the best organizational model for your company, and the use of appropriate measures-of-effectiveness (MOE) to demonstrate the operation's value to senior management are covered in this rapid-pace, full day program. You will learn how to:

Establish the professional intelligence process used by successful CI organizations world wide
Choose the right CI structure for your company or business unit
Use all three basic intelligence operations to produce actionable intelligence
Create and use the KIT user-needs identification process to produce the intelligence that your management and organization needs
And, understand the types of measures that can be used to assess your intelligence operations effectiveness (MOEs) and value (ROI).

Creating and Running a World Class Intelligence Process
Producing Actionable Intelligence
You Need a User-Needs Identification Process, But Not Sure How To Develop One
Managing Your Organization's BI Operations- Are You're the Right Person for the Job?

1. Producing Actionable Intelligence

The Business Intelligence (BI) department has been operating for about a year. It has a good reputation for being very responsive to management's requests, answering the hard questions. It produces a bi-weekly Intelligence Newsletter and competitor assessments that are very comprehensive. The Department has been asked to make intelligence inputs to the company's Long-Range Plan and several business unit strategies. Yet, it does not seem to be getting the recognition it believes it deserves. What more can be done?

1. Is the Director of Intelligence invited to the President's weekly staff meetings?
2. Are the Department's intelligence products actually resulting in business actions?
3. Are there other types of intelligence products and services that the Department should be offering?
4. Does the Department assess the "value" of its intelligence products?

2. You Need a User-Needs Identification Process, But Not Sure How To Develop One

Your General Manager has asked you to organize and start up a CI program for the Business Unit. He has identified several hot topics he wants you to focus on but has stated that he wants you to poll his direct reports and present the combined set of intelligence topics for their review and selection.

1. What is the best way to identify all their intelligence needs?
2. How many topics can be worked on at one time?
3. How should they be organized?
4. How should they be prioritized?

3. Managing Your Organization's BI Operations- Are You're the Right Person for the Job?
You have just joined the company's main-line business unit (BU) after three years in the field support group. The head of the BU has asked you to take the lead in establishing a CI function. You know the BU has not been doing well lately, mainly due to the aggressiveness and success of several new competitors. Your know first hand how difficult it is to get Headquarters' managers to pay attention to field activities and have doubts about their interest in CI.

1. Should you take the assignment?
2. Do you personally know these new managers?
3. Did you have trouble getting HQ to use or act on your field-service reporting?
4.How do your peers and previous managers characterize your "thinking"?
5. Would you have difficulty telling your new boss one of his old product lines is not fairing as well as it appears?6. Would you be comfortable reporting a possible intelligence operations problems to the law department?

Advanced Courses CIP™-II Certification Level

CI 401 War Gaming: Theory & Practice (2 Days)

A war game is a uniquely structured battle of minds between teams representing various rivals in the industry. We start the course with a theoretical framework for understanding industry evolution, deciphering competitor behavior and generating strategic options, and then progress to application using real data to the point of making market forecasts checked against real events.

On Day One, we lay the framework for analyzing the industry, evaluating the company’s strategic position, and predicting competitor vulnerabilities. Day Two is devoted to an analytical battle between teams, similar to a chess game, and concludes with the most likely competitor scenarios and formation of specific action recommendations. Combining theory and practice, you will learn to:

Role-play competitors with the most cutting edge techniques
Learn to run both “Landscape” and “Competitor Response” war games
Make the most accurate predictions of third parties’ moves
Understand all the steps needed to organize and play effective games
Understand precisely the role of intelligence in a war game
Participants will receive Dr. Gilad’s new book, Business War Games (Career Press, 2008), the only such book in the market!

CI 402 Value Chain Analysis

How does Dell manage to be so profitable in a generally unattractive industry? CI analysts often need to explain a competitor’s competitive advantage. How can it do what it does? The proper answer can come only from a Value Chain Analysis (VCA), which closely analyzes the chain of activities performed by a company to identify precisely (and numerically) the sources of differentiation and cost-value advantages. Understanding the value chain of a competitor means accurately understanding the value of its strategic differentiation. The same is
true for understanding the threats to your own company’s position. You will learn how to:

Understand the real strategic differences in value chain activities between your company and its competitors
Identify major cost drivers for competitors’ advantage
Understand the various sources of sustainable and non-sustainable competitive advantages
Replace SWOT with a significantly more sophisticated framework
Use a numerical analysis to identify threats to your company’s position
Assess which benchmarking has a chance to succeed and which is just a
waste of money

Value Chain Analysis
Finding a Source of Competitive Advantage
From Where Inside Its Operations Does a Rival View Its True Value
How Much Cost Analysis is Enough - and When Do You Know?

1. Finding a Source of Competitive Advantage
The Pharmaceutical industry's profitability (operating income/assets) over the period 1988-1995 was around 25%. During the same time period, Motor Vehicle industry average yield was about 4%. Drug stores generated 12%.

Within the Pharmaceutical industry, J&J's Operating income/assets ratio during that time period was 39%. Schering Plough, 35%. Abbott was 22% and Rhone-Poulenc achieved 13% only. Genetch was even worse (4%).

1. What explains such persistent differences in profitability? Does the same analysis fit both examples (industries and companies)? If not, what is the difference in explanation?
2. What is the source of competitive advantage (what's behind the empty slogans)?
3. Is creating and sustaining competitive advantage the same? How can your competitors sustain their advantage? How can your company?
4. How can you use the Value Chain template to analyze your company's cost vs. competitors? What does it tell you about your company's sources of competitive advantage? What conclusions would you draw for management?

2. From Where Inside Its Operations Does a Rival View Its True Value
Airborne Express is a small carrier surviving the giants in this industry, FedEx and UPS. To understand how it can do that, you should draw an activity map, comparing the three companies. If you do that, you find out Airborne has, for example, a manual sorting operations, compared with FedEx and UPS' fully automated hubs.

1. How does a manual operating system deal with FedEx and UPS' scale advantage?
2. How does Airborne's manual operations fit in with the other activities in Airborne's whole value chain?
How does Airborne achieve higher capacity utilization on its flights than its competitors? Why is that important in analyzing Airborne's strategy?

3. How Much Cost Analysis is Enough - and When Do You Know?
If you can benefit from analyzing your competitor's P&L to arrive at its relative cost (dis)advantage, start with your own P&L, then move to the competitor's based on public and industry data. Identifying cost drivers associated with the activities you analyze on the P&L is crucial to analyzing differences between your company (or unit) and your competitor's. Assigning cost figures follows the identification of cost drivers, and the assessment of how your competitor is affected by them relative to your own company.

1. Do you analyze all the hundreds of a competitor's activities? A subset of activities? Which subset should you concentrate on?
2. How detailed is the analysis? What data do you use? Where do you get these data? What if it is a private company?
3. If you have no strategic option to act differently on a cost driver, does it matter? For example, if all the rivals produce in plants located in the same region, is the manufacturing location a cost driver?
4. How does relative cost analysis lead to better competitive positioning?

Telling Stories with Numbers (*Enrichment Evening Courses) (optional)

Is your firm’s financial performance on par with its competitors? How aggressively can your competitors invest in R&D, marketing and expansion activities? Executives use financial information to drive key strategic decisions. Intelligence professionals need to be able to speak the same language. The finance guys will review income statements and balance sheets. Intelligence professionals need to be able to pick out a few key ratios to tell a competitive story. Which ratios are important depends on what industry you are in and what story you are trying to tell. Providing a financial snapshot of the firm and significant competitors increases the firm’s understanding of what they really can do. It also bolsters the credibility of competitive intelligence analyses.

Designed for analysts who do not work in or with finance on a regular basis, this hands-on, case-based course will teach how to tell stories with numbers by:

Defining competitive advantage using ratios that are telling for an industry’s life cycle
Identifying different financial health indicators for low cost and differentiated firms
Discovering telling financial ratios for different industries
Creating a financial health report card
Presenting financial information deliberately and succinctly
Problem Sets

Do competitors have the cash flow to make big market moves or to invest in value chain activities? Competitor earnings reports may indicate yet another profitable quarter. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the cash flow or asset base to make bold moves or large investments.
Firms claim that they have competitive advantage. Just because they say it doesn’t make it so. For instance, they may boast to shareholders that they have the most efficient operations. Investigating a few key indicators regarding their expenses and efficiency ratios can tell a very different story.

Profit Pool Analysis (*Enrichment Evening Courses) (optional)

How do you identify your industry boundaries? Where are industry profits being made? Are there prospects for profit generation ignored by competitors? Industry profit pool analysis provides insight into these questions. Using an industry value chain structure the CI analyst will identify and financially valuate new opportunities, an essential part of a CI analyst’s strategic role. By using an industry profit pool map, the CI analyst can determine where value can be captured or created, where the company sits in the pool vis a vis its competitors, and what strategic alternatives facilitate swimming into better pools. A profit pool map can then be employed to inform strategic thinking.

In this hands-on, case-based course you will learn how to:

Define an industry’s boundaries using an extended value chain framework
Estimate the distribution of profits across value chain activities
Uncover new sources of profit
Create an industry profit pool map to fit strategic questions
Identify blind spots in the firm’s strategic vision that keep it from swimming in new pools

Industry Profit Pool
In the late 1990's competitors in the consumer truck leasing industry were earning ~3% profit margin. U-Haul, with an older fleet, higher maintenance costs and lower prices, was earning 10% profit margin. How were they able to earn more from a (seemingly) weaker value chain?

U-Haul's definition of its industry did not end with activities surrounding the provision of truck rental. It extended its industry profit pool map to include its consumer's needs. Here they identified the opportunity to sell packaging, insurance and other associated items needed to facilitate the moving experience. Apparently, consumers were less scrutinizing of accessory expenses than they were for the cost of the truck itself. Packaging material margins provided U-haul with a substantial boost to the bottom line.

How much detail is needed in defining an industry profit pool map?
How do you identify untapped or hidden sources of profit?
Is it possible to create a choke point to fortify a new pool?
Discovering where Value is created in an Industry

The automotive industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry with a growing upstream supply chain and nearly 60% of revenues attributable to manufacturing companies and dealers. The industry profit pool map tells a different leadership story. The deepest pools belong to the financial products segment of the industry- financing, insurance and lease programs. "Pre-owned" vehicle dealerships are also more profitable than the stalwart firms creating the products they sell.


What is the size and depth of each profit pool?
What is the life cycle stage of each pool and are they sustainable?
Why have profits formed where they have?
Activating an Industry Profit Pool Map in Strategic Thinking

Industry profit pool maps can be positioned to provide insight to strategic questions. Profit pool maps can help identify: where new or untapped pools of profit exist, help chart possible merger, acquisition or partnership strategies, identify customers and channels and even guide more tactical decisions about the 4 P's.


Considering profit margins and choke points, where should the firm consider investing free cash flow- upstream, downstream or 'newstream'?
What forces are likely to change the current map? Will new models emerge as a result?
Are new entrants, or the evolution of strategic groupings likely to weaken the current boundaries of the current configuration?
Which pools should the firm consider swimming in to advantage or to manage shifts in the industry map?

CI 403 Anticipating Disruption (2 Days) – Scenario Analysis Tools and Techniques

In a world filled with uncertainty, long term planning is at best an art. The longer the forecasting horizon, the less accurate the traditional prediction tools are. Worse – change drivers that can change industry structural foundation and wreak havoc on your company’s business model are extremely hard to predict. Yet not all unknowns are also unknowable. There are some tools available to intelligence professionals everywhere to try and mitigate the uncertainty, and at least intelligently anticipate and warn about potential disruptions. In this course we cover several of them: the Bass model for predicting new product adoption, prediction markets (the tool used by Google) for using the “wisdom of the crowd” to predict competitive developments, and of course, Scenario Analysis which is probably the most effective tool available to assist in the development of more resilient strategies for your company.

The module’s structure lays the foundation for Scenario Analysis by first taking the participants through a series of experimental exercises demonstrating the operation of cognitive biases in their judgment. These biases color the world view of both the intelligence professional and top management. They are responsible for resistance to early warning signs. While biases are hard to correct, research does present a few psychological “tricks” to allow the intelligence message to get past the initial resistance. Each participant will get to test his or her susceptibility to judgment biases.

Following the mapping of cognitive filters, the first day proceeds to survey supplemental disruption “anticipation” techniques- Bass model and prediction markets - viable in specific situations of large uncertainty such as technological disruption and hard to predict competitive moves. Then, starting at the second half of Day 1 and proceeding to the end of Day 2, the course focuses on Scenario Analysis.

Scenario Analysis is a means to explore multiple outcomes to complex or rapidly changing competitive situations. A perfect complement to War Gaming, which focuses on short to medium term predictions, Scenario Analysis allows the decision makers to form strategies suitable for the longer term future competitive landscape. It is a critical element of any company’s early warning system. Filled with real-world cases and examples, Scenario Analysis relies on identifying and examining drivers of uncertainty - those factors, forces, and/or trends that will propel a particular competitive situation forward. Drivers may include regulatory developments, competitive behavior, industry consolidation, and other external forces over which organizations have little or no control. You will learn how to apply key drivers to develop alternative outcomes and plan your strategic moves to match those expected outcomes.

In this course - filled with cases and exercises - you will learn how to:

Watch out for cognitive biases (yours, and executives’) in certain situations
Use framing and other effects to enhance management’s receptivity to your early warning message
Set up prediction market inside your own firm to harvest the “wisdom of the crowd”
Apply the basic Bass Model to forecasting the demand for new technology/product
Build scenarios, based on first-hand case studies drawn from actual Fuld & Company client engagements
Learn methods for developing different "futures" for your company, thereby offering your management potent strategic options
Use the results of Scenario Analysis to craft resilient competitive strategy despite being faced with highly uncertain competitive conditions
Apply Scenario Analysis as a fundamental building block for your early warning system

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