How to create action and traction with top management on market intelligence and strategic analysis – a practitioner’s view
Anyone in strategy or market intelligence probably recognizes this phenomena: You have crunched all the numbers you could reasonably find to do your analysis for your project assignment. You have made your slides even more persuasive than usual including new insights that make things really bright. You have worked until late. This time, the customer’s management team will be sure to act upon your thought-through recommendations for the right and ambitious decisions.
Alas, the management decides differently. No matter how solid your analysis, it seems they either didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand it. They take a different decision from what you recommended them to. Why? The facts and conclusions were compelling enough. Or were they not?
Trust needs to be earned
Apparently, analysis needs to be more than good to be impactful. Quality attributes like timely, accurate and complete are important when delivering market intelligence or strategic analysis to management. But apparently there is more.
It is too often over the past 15 years at FrieslandCampina that I have seen high-grade market intelligence analysis that was not being acted upon. This initially bewildered and later fascinated me. What was going on here?
I set out on a voyage of discovery. The first insight that I discovered on the way was the relevance of acceptance of deliverables next to analytic prowess. Decision-makers not only need to buy your analysis cognitively, but also emotionally. It helps, for sure, when they first accept you and give you their credibility and trust.
The second insight I came across was that trust does not come overnight. It needs to be earned. In market intelligence trust develops when you always have all the facts you need – and even more when your analysis delivers competitor intentions so accurately that their next moves become predictable. You understand their logic so well as to be able to foresee their budget and strategic plans prior to them executing the actions you predicted.
Market intelligence is a profession of lifelong learning
Driven by an intense curiosity and a bit of perfectionism at FrieslandCampina we now operate a market intelligence function which does three things in parallel:
- Collects and analyzes all the critical facts in a permanent and global process – using M-Brain Intelligence Plaza as knowledge management backbone
- Reviews and periodically and pro-actively reports key competitor intentions
- Connects with decision-makers to ensure their changing needs drive our work
Over time this function has spotted M&A targets, market opportunities and competitive threats so early that management could, and ultimately did, confidently act upon the market intelligence deliverables that they were provided with.
We continue to learn and further improve. Market intelligence remains a profession of lifelong learning. One lesson so far, however, stands out: there are few things so rewarding in this profession as to see your deliverables form the cornerstone of significant management decisions. To all fellow market intelligence professionals on their journeys I say: do not expect success overnight, but cherish it when it comes – as it will!
Want to find out more about market intelligence? Click to download The 2015 Global Market Intelligence Survey, which presents the latest state of market intelligence in global organizations.
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