The hallmark of an effective corporate competitive intelligence function is how it communicates important CI findings to company decision-makers. There are a variety of ways to communicate key intelligence findings: newsletters, ad hoc reports, email, posts to a CI portal, to name a few. But, one of the most effective methods is a scheduled executive briefing.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Executive briefings offer the opportunity to engage your company's decision-makers on the most pressing intelligence issues. You can also observe body language, hear discussions among executives about the findings you are presenting, and receive questions directly from internal CI clients. Sadly, few competitive intelligence functions include executive briefings among their CI deliverables.
Why? For many functions, gaining access to executives is difficult. However, if competitive intelligence is to serve as a decision-support function, instead of just another research function, direct access to its internal clients is critical. Gaining this access won't happen overnight. CI functions need to demonstrate a history of offering compelling and provocative findings and assessments that directly address executives' concerns and issues. Once the CI function has done that, asking for time on meeting agendas becomes pretty straightforward.
Another reason why executive briefings are a relatively rare CI deliverable is because many CI professionals are not effective presenters. I have seen way too many CI briefings run too long, fail to coalesce findings into a few key themes, and mis-use PowerPoint and other presentation tools. Executive briefings first and foremost need to be short: CI practitioners must be able to condense their most critical findings into a short briefing.
This means potentially leaving considerable details out of the presentation. This is hard for many CI professionals to do. Because they have worked so hard on research and information gathering, they feel compelled to include every fact and figure they have unearthed. The reality is that there is a law of diminishing returns. Two or three pieces of evidence to support any finding is plenty; anything more actually may detract from the strength of the argument.
Executive intelligence briefings must be crisp, dynamic and to the point. PowerPoint slides should be minimalist -- few words, lots of graphics, and compelling. In an executive briefing, the CI professional, not the slide deck, should be the focus of interest. Executives want to listen to you, not read slides. The majority of the intelligence content must be in the presentation, not on in slides.
To that end, I want to share venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule for PowerPoint presentations. Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine. Although his 10-20-30 rule was developed for VC presentations, I think it applies to CI executive briefings as well.
Posted by Ken_at_OI at 7:57 AM