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Mindshift to Competitive Intelligence

Mindshift to Competitive Intelligence

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Published by: ClosetLibrarian on Aug 13, 2011
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Note: I published anonymously - for confirmation of my authorship, contact __


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rultn.eJi. byi:he.

The Bulletin of the Competitive Intelligence Division


What they an~ & ho,w they can he,lpveu transttton (and/or succeed I nO YOlln US carea r

The Mi nd- Shift from

us to



a1i.thar hm ber?fJ' in .IheUS I Q/1'i1IIri Jie1dftr wer 20ye.ar:s: The author be.g:..-m wiillli an economies degree,tiolilowed b,~. Cl1!feBr .in. W:ruISkeet libraries, and iUl1l:!i:ui"1ll!Jt.eily pmgressooto nlmtaging all Investment EMIking Information Centee. Next carne semetime crn:!.S1l"l.!l.fuing(bOith as a librarian and on orgru:Uiz1l!il::iciIll effectiveness issues) befure jommg <'I.major gJ,@baf OOllgJ,©l1nefare: in a knowledge mmlflge.mBt1!Jt role. That was fudl@wed by consulting, ·l;'llith <l! ..focus on competitive
intelligence, Cunently,iI:l1:e ~lJiIltfum1evef'll!gesher eollectiere sbill.]s and C[ ap· preaches t@ evaJJlUilJoog cempanies in <l!.inancial setting -]ea(]!u.lg the Research f area of liI. N1{C investment firm.

.ow tJ1Z():f(fftlOU:I

When ill first embarked 0111a career <'IS<'Ilibrarian in tl1:enlid·-HlQs, itwas <'I. rea.r!t timeto be in . g the field. Cmnpwe:s 'Were llli::iing<l!nd.lliere'U<'aS mere investment .in. the professional development efthe team. members ..I made <l!. eonseicus choice te pmsue ru:J!. IMLS il:~dl:Br 1i:llru:J!. ID rMB,,~ because I S;Q loved ..reserurch- both. qmilitiitive <lindqmanititafuiVie ..
HOOke .many ef my peers, my pre-;M]LS acarlrnl!i..cooc:kgn:ru:'fiJd and w@fik esperiencewas in finance and econemics, S@ lit sern"led.11J.fltrn:ill. ro dig a l1itlie deeper iinto l,'llh{lJ!t I was IDe:ading and pass my tllOughts 01'iJ. .my end. user .....Lpsrtnered til] -l:;'llitll.1L them @n the research, asb!ng wlhiit lliey hoped to accomplisll- not just what searehes they needed dene.

So Ulil1LiJ!e wars fornu1tll!re: to be in the field during several gt:@'wth periods, ill run convinced I
(Contfml!etionp,age 1'4)



Th€! Mind- Shift from LIS Ito CI
(Co.ti" ued from page 1)

• •

Customer service levels mopping with vendors. Consolidation

that the rapid advancements. [ made within the llS field (as well as the K:M: and CI transitions), would not have happened so fast had my rnindset not been so different from many of my peer:s. Ultimately, one needs to think of oneself as a product in the service of problem solving, [ have to attribute part of this mrught to my brother, an e.ngineer who, after listening to me describe my work commented that I TOO was an engineer. He noted that engit;een are all about solV!ing problems and that special librarians resolve open questions with information. In his own way, he started me thinking about actionabl« inte11igcflcc. 'Dhat started me down a path by the eady 90s that kept me ahead of ffiru:tythe shifts that have plagued the pro ression. Outsourcing abroad. or to agencies is one that comes particularly to mind, TIle gmw1ih of the internet - leading to perception, that "We can just have someone Google it" .is another, As I consider my path and the some key success factors, I'd like to explore a few questions. Are yOUl old enough to remember {he early-mid 90s in libraries -& Information Science? If so, (rutleast for Will Street veterans) YOUl'll recall a boom tirne -; with hiring up, spending 011 resources increasing, funds avaiJllhl·e for conferences and rrainill:g, ami more intense cover:age ru:trll odc dl!ing from vendors. We didn't necessarily have 3. martini lunches, but the vendors were definitely dining if not wining lIS - life U(llS nice and we felt good about what we were doing_ But chru:tge 'lias on the wincl and, if you were savvy, you could smell it. I remember trends SUlC.h as; • Locating Libraries and Information Centers . (mganizationally and. physically) with departments like the copy center: Placing senior librarians (vps etc) in chru:ge of departrnents like the copy center as WE'll. Increasing numbers of librarians anr] libraries removing any trace of the word '~libiru:y" from their titles or department name Outsourcing other departments to SE Asia or .lev:e:mg;i:ng outside temp agencies [or professionals, which ultimately happened to libraries as well Increased justification around budgets and establishing a business case, source by source Less

of vendors

no bonuses

Some of my colleagues at the time felt that this was temporaryHowever, it was deal to me that there was not a just perceived signifiCru:ttdiminishment in t!he company's big picmre with these actions - these changes were here to stay and indicative of incremental "efficiency' corning down the pike. Mostly, I was concemed that the libraries and information centers I worked in were not producing and / or marketing the value proposition they had 01 taking the neo:essary action increase it. Perhaps I W;JJS more sensitive to the issue, having experienced several large downsizingsin, the eadj' years of my career. It became clear to me that simple ]]Sage-volume did not value make. There was. a disconnect between what the business was ultimately willing to invest in and what llllilly corporate libraries (whatever they called themselves) delivere". How does tile business /Cl ruindsets compare tional research/LIS tl;inki.l1g? wirh tradi-

Since each of us is different, when compaung the two, I like to think of them asrrulges 011 an iterative spectrum rather than as relative shengtlls andweaknesses, Using the inte'lligence cycle as my moc!e1 (gmphic, below), we know we can. work in the .information collection and immediately surrounding area (in bllile)- the question becomes: How fru: we can produce into the analysis and other functions alOllg the continuum (the white areas)~ [Particularly important to this concept is the lack of a break ill. the circle, e.g. arrows rnove in a continuous circle, not suuply )o.rung "steps ..'')

• •

• • •

no funds f01 training and development

Not replacing departing personnel

.0" page




The Mind- Shift from LIS to CI
(Co.•iinuedjl."", pog. 14)'

I will not 1Ilmke~ detailed comparison of the mindsers here - others have covered that topic tarbetter than I ever could in detail in assorted professional [ournals. What I "rill say is that I wish traditional Iibrarians and CI practitioners would stop viewing each other tlumJgh a fence. However, .if the above graphic were a map, I would [J1:opose that most LIS professionals Me not >IS f~r down the path as we think, extending pllilmrily >!long the Me:>!n blue, i Bxtending into the other functions would lend a. holistic thinking and mindser, The Mlillogy I would use is tha t, at the: extremes - the librarian has. an unmarked map (witll no tezt) and the CI practitioner has a compass and the cell phone How does one begin to shift mindset?
Ktl01V your industry It's not just about know:illg the general trends, key playe!'> ami other stl:ategic components, It's about having at least tile understanding some of the 1110retactical and operational aspects so that you can have informed discussions with your users, The investment of some of your free rune spent readi.ng up and tibitzing with knowledgeable parties pays off manytold. In some cases, I treated people to lunch in exchange for telling about what fuey do and how their department works. __ Another tactic was "free research" on something they needed to know for work Given that operational peJ:sonnel Me often less aware of the library services, fuey pleasantly surprised by the outcomes and often become more active users, This. knowledge .is .bso!l!tely viW! if YOLl want to be proactive and to have the ability to discern what pieces of information arevalid, valuable, and actionable.

71WJk llk_-ean hwestigative repoaes: Early on, [ realized that some of the questions I received would not necessarily be documented in a print document or online. Howeverthere were l:ikeIy one, Of maybe several, expert sources in combination, with whom I could speak to get mY>lnswer - both for qualitative and quantitative research, After overcoming initial stage fright M1dleMni:l'lgto 'Write myself a script in advance (including questions with check boxes), I found this approach invaluable. Particularly in early stages of research when a subject matter expert can point you in the right direction. Your social network (01 in !:he old days, YOill rolodes) is one ot your most valuable tools. More on this larer..
(CD"Ii-.,.ued"" pog. 16)


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PAGE: 16

The Mind- Shift: from
(Co"lin.edjrompoge 1.1)

us to CI
librarians Me perceived as incapable of malting that contribution because "'they aren't business people." Ir's more that just d1essing professionally (even in casual attire cultures) _ it's taking fu:aining classes like 6 signla black belt training or regulru:ly sitting in on end user team meetings to learn more about what they'!" working on. Build torma! and informal couunuuities of practice. Social networking has been key for me, Anyone I meet, no matter their um]!!;of life, is.a potential connection. ] must caveat this noting that I do not 111=1 this in {I "smarmy fUSe!" kind of "'''''y. I genuinely enjoy people and thar's why this approach works tor me, Whether it is the homemaker I chatted with in a doctor's wai.timg.roorn, an executive I met at a conference, or .my hairdresser _ you would be surprised who can educate you on VlIriOIIS topics or put you In tOUGhwilllll useful source. Plus, medically spE>lking_ making and maintaining these connections can give one more balance in one's personal ute ... and, for many people, this approach is much more palatable and within reach. On a more formal level, facilitating connections between others not only helps rut! involved, it raises yonr own personal capital _ both as a teamplayer and leader. And it can g:tow vllitlIy: when I worked in. jj KM:;CI role for a major congiomeralle, what started as a few of us. occasionally compailng notes ultimately grew into my team of 3D or more professionals in a cross-business, cross-functional teampartnering on a knowledge portal. Hare a true passion far YOIl, iFork. That fire in your gut reg;ucling your work carries through to YOUl clients, If you are excited about working for (and withl) them, the partnership 'Will be stronger. Not eveJ.ything we do will ~e thrilling, but carrying over tile good tihings and remembering: daily what you lite about WI.1111t do will make the day gp faster _ and hElp rev you you up for tOITIOfmW_ Invest rime in yourseu; Many of us ace reactive in OUt careers _ only when we reach a bJ:eaking point with a bad job or when layoffs ace announced do we think about P\lckaging ourselves. Often, when one is ill that state, it's more chillellging to clearly see one's strengths clearly and to focus deady 011 the best career steps, as we concentrate male on finding {I source of income, health insurance, etc. III is better to keep up with the opportunities even when lllings Me good. No only does it give one ~ male realistic picture of the marketplace toe oneself _ it helps .if you Me doing rulYhiring Sometimes I envy the some of the consulting! gum types (who the less generalIS part of me assumes must have another source of income) have time to experiment with research sources and, be so knowledgeable. I v.'Ony that maybe ['111 not spending

It's Bot how we-got there, it's !V1H:.£e· ''there'' is .. I love. doing research, and I'm fascinated with the PlOceSS of how we find. ru1SWE'';S. most clients don't Colleabout that - oilier than But that you exercised extensive due cliligence and that the sources Me a uthorirative. So while you lllily have done !e.alIy gmlmdbreaking W01it, all the user needs ill see initially are the answers to their question _ not eve!'j g:t:eatpiece of information you found It is better to summarize that incremental uiforrnation at the end of your deliverable and note the arvailability of the fulItext or additions] data files.. Don't be afraid oftritmguiation, 113l'ing an opinion, and

takilJg more risks. If our job is to find answers not documents

_ the solution will likely come from a weighted amillgam of multiple sources. One could theoretically pass thmugh the assorted documents and notes, but IlL'l.nyusers will not have the patience to make sense of it. \What's necessaryis some ezplanation, 1.11 jj memo for example, that is mare than {I bibliography. It should briefly explilln what you did and didn't Iearn, lts sig!lificrunc.e,what documents or document sections will be most useful. to read in full, and even suggestions for follow-on lines of inquil:y_ If yon have a point of view and there's time to ru1illyze (even a little) _ do so proactively, Learn what metrics end-users' success is based on, what tiJe-J. responsibilities are, and what they're fFOrfdl1g OjJ _. then that same iruosrnatioa for their bosses. In some cases, I gathered tills information socially, meeting them for breakfast Of lunch; in other cases, 'W~ either exchanged the information via e-mail in a more formal "needs assessment" meeting. This information enabled me to truly be successful in proactivity became I knew what information my client would find valuable. Their success. is my success.

about tne ,maiyTIcai.modeis

Y01.lr ciieat» and otners

i1Jbusiness community use. Understanding S.WOTs, PESTs,
Porter's Five Forces, and other models can be quite valuable, If nothing else, .it helps yon organize the information in the optimill mariner for their analysis. In {I best case scenario _ you build the model.illustrating youe glOWing skills ln intelligence not just information. One caution> Q popu/afi1d llmdel is nvt neasStm!}' ill t.mil if if!l!/f tkep mtdligJnct!. Assorted vendors, for example, will sell you compflfly SWCfTh, but they ace after! too sunplistic 01 too broadly focused relative ill the end-users' needs. ]t is often best to conduct custom rulillysis.
lVor/r Ji!it1J, not fa,", people. By no means run Iinclicating ru1Y diminishment of your service ethic. Wh:l t I run St1:e.ssing ls the importance of being a member ai'thc businesses teams, both in actuality and perception This is once of the toughest concepts [0( most US professionals to accomplish. Too often

0" page




The Mind- Shift from LISto CI
(Continued from page 16) enough time keeping current with source changes on the collection side. I've come to the conclusion that there is more out there than what one person can keep track of, but reading the alerts from Gary Price and others will at least keep me ahead of the curve. What if I'm not in CI, why should I consider these shifts? of the suggestions as a treat for yourself - it makes the whole pmcess seem much more palatable and within reach. And it will begin to position you toward a successful transition ... or simply success in what you do. U

Applying these practices & making these shifts benefit you as an US professional - even if you don't make the transition to CI. You will be a better researcher and you will more likely find the work you are doing more interesting, as you tum a new eye on the projects and approach them in different ways. You will find your standing will rise with your clients (end users) and the iterative nature of the relationship will likely lead to more challengi.ng and interesting projects. If layoffs come around - there is a better case for keeping you - or alternatively bringing you on instead as an outside consultant. I don't have the luxury to spend the kind of time you're gesting ... sug-

Mark your ca endar
forSLA 2008

Few of us have the complaint of too much free time on our hands; but not all of these suggestions have to be done at once: you can take baby steps toward your ultimate goal. And while I'm as guilty as one can be of working through meals, taking that break is well advised if you want any kind of balance in your life. ~7hy not allocate one meal every week or every other week toward spending with a new colleague or doing a special project for that individual? If your response is that you don't want to spend any more time than you do already with the people you work with - you probably aren't in a job that you should or will enjoy staying in. If the investment of one hour a week in yourself isn't one you're willing to make, then you shouldn't be surprised about a lack of opportunities or your organization's limited perception of you. Today, employees are generally expected to manage their own careers. I've noticed that this is difficult for many people to grasp (even when it is stated company policy) either because they were around long before that cultural shift or because they are newer to the workplace and have unrealistic expectations regarding their career path. This is the reality today and something everyone needs to come to terms with, Think about what attracted you to the profession in the first place. It is likely that, for many of you, a natural curiosity about life played a large part in drawing you into Iibrarianship. You like doing research and learning new things. TIle mind shifts I've detailed really all involve indulging a curiosity and acting upon it. So think

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