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Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, and Create Powerful Strategies Paperback – September 12, 2003
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The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship: "Gilad weaves a cautionary tale for modern managers. He is an expert storyteller whose compelling cases illustrate the follies of missing strategic risk and the benefits of embracing CEW [competitive early warning]. The book has thought-provoking ideas presented in a very readable style."
Poolonline.com: "This [Early Warning] is an excellent book that shows the importance of an early warning system and ways in which it can be developed in companies of different sizes and in different industries. It also serves as a warning that in today’s turbulent environment it is a highly dangerous strategy to proceed without such an early warning system in place."
Top customer reviews
I found the content informative, perhaps more appropriate for someone starting CI work. Nonetheless, the case studies and examples of CI programs at various companies would likely be of interest to most practitioners. Gilad provides a number of practical and useful dos and don'ts about the effectiveness of CI in a corporate environment, given the organizational and cultural challenges that any such program faces.
The production quality of the Kindle version of the book is only fair. The graphics are poorly done, with the lettering in some of the boxes illegible by the black shadowing of the box. However I found the graphics not that illustrative, so the poor quality is perhaps a moot point. Unlike with some books, where the text font actually encourages me to read, I found the font in Early Warning tiring to look at for prolonged reading.
Overall, I found the book informative and worth reading.
Ben Gilad, arguably one of the top five practitioner-scholars in the competitive intelligence arena (the others, in my opinion, are Jan Herring and Leonard Fuld, his partners; Babette Bensoussan in Australia, and Mats Bjore in Sweden), makes a very important contribution with this book. It is for business leaders what Kristan Wheaton's book, was and is for government leaders.
The author's earlier book, "Business Blindspots: replacing myths, beliefs and assumptions with market realities", remains one of the single best references for business intelligence professionals (but only available from Infonortics UK), together with Babette Bensoussan and Craig Fleisher's Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition
I regard this book as being primarily for the manager of the business enterprise rather than the business intelligence professional, primarily because it is very helpful in breaking through old mind-sets and suggesting that very specific attitudes and activities must characterize those endeavors that wish to avoid costly surprises. I would say that this book, together with Yale business author Jeffrey Garten's book, The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda For Business Leaders are "must reads" for the senior executive who desires to not just survive but to excel in the 21st Century.
The author, who has a solid understanding of the history of surprise in military or national security circles, makes the point that surprise does not occur for lack of signs that can be detected, but for lack of a culture and mind-set open to seeing and understanding those signals.
The book combines survey results from professionals attending the Academy of Competitive Intelligence (the single best offering in the world) with real-world accounts, "gray box" supplementals, and "manager's checklists" at the end of each chapter that are in essence an executive summary of the chapter.
This is a 2-3 hour read, and well-worth anyone's time, but especially well-worth the time of the executive who is willing to consider the possibility that they are grossly unaware of real-world external threats to their future bonuses, and that there might be some relatively simple low-cost solutions to dealing with the threat that require, rather than vast sums of money, a change in mind-set.
Other recommended works on my short list (with reviews):
Measuring the Effectiveness of Competitive Intelligence: Assessing & Communicating CI's Value to Your Organization
Keeping Abreast of Science and Technology: Technical Intelligence for Business
The New Competitor Intelligence: The Complete Resource for Finding, Analyzing, and Using Information about Your Competitors
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political--Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest
I also recommend the book to students of management as an insight into the tricky subject of how organizations build an image of their environment. Most of the literature on that field tends to be written in a researcher-to-researcher style, like books on organizational sensemaking or cognitive oligopolies. This book stands out since it's clear, solution oriented and written for practitioners.
Moreover, the book offers some solution to the never ending discussion regarding deliberate versus emergent strategy making. The book shows how to deal with a complex environment by understanding and monitoring it, instead of planning yourself to death with irrelevant tools or not planning at all.
The book also discusses organizational politics that might block a competitive intelligence function since it often lacks the direct access to decision makers that governmental intelligence agencies usually enjoy in their arena.