John Nolan, a 22-year veteran of international espionage who is currently involved in corporate intelligence-gathering, shows you how to ask, what to ask, when to ask, and whom to ask. The methods can be as simple as deliberately making a misstatement--"The toothpaste division sure missed its projections this quarter"--and getting someone who knows better to correct you, in the process supplying you with the information you want about his company's inner workings. Or they can be as complicated as patiently and doggedly piecing together tiny scraps of information from a number of sources. Whichever you resort to, Nolan shows a conversational method for ensuring that the person dispensing the information doesn't even remember he or she gave it out. No, it's not hypnotism; it's starting and ending a conversation with generalities, and discussing specifics only in the middle, the part of a chat that most people won't recall.
Confidential could be useful to anyone who needs information about a rival, or who needs to protect his or her own company's secrets. Nolan illustrates his points with examples from business (how Johnson & Johnson gathered intelligence that protected its Tylenol franchise from a rival product) as well as fiction (Appendix A is dedicated to the techniques used by Sherlock Holmes to elicit information). The result is an entertaining book that may take your business to a more intelligent level. --Lou Schuler
"Confidential brings into the private sector the most misunderstood, and consequently, underused facet of government intelligencethe human source. In a thoroughly enjoyable fashion, John Nolan educates the reader on how to access and use this critical intelligence resource, for both competitive advantage and security." -- Jan P. Herring, former director of business intelligence, Motorola
"Confidential is a must-read for anyone wanting to conduct and utilize competitive intelligence the right way. Nolan concisely captures the elicitation techniques executives can use to ethically and legally capture competitive information to prevail in the hypercompetitive marketplace." -- Ava Harth Youngblood, president, Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals
"Be it from the clinical investigator or the attorney or the factory worker, unintentional information leaks are flowing like a flood. Written in a revealing and provocative manner, Confidential is must-reading for those who should be guarding shareholders' information assets." -- Lewis W. Lehr, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer, 3M
"John Nolan is the Sherlock Holmes of the new millennium. This is absolutely the best book I have ever read on competitive information elicitation." -- Geary Soska, director of competitor intelligence, Goodyear
"Remarkably thorough, engagingly written, and above all, useful the day one starts to read it, Confidential describes ethical and legal procedures and thought processes that, with some practice, yield greater confidence in decisions that must be made `ahead of the curve.' The increased return on investment in opportunities taken, trade secrets kept, and market advantage gained make Confidential worth its weight in consultants' invoices." -- George A. Dennis, director of competitor intelligence, Bellcore
"The next best thing to knowing all about your own business is to know all about the other fellow's business." -- John D. Rockefeller