I really liked T. J. Waters new book, Hyperformance: Using Competitive Intelligence For Better Strategy And Execution. I wasn't sure that I would (even though one of my former students is featured prominently in it -- more on that in a minute), but I do.
It is an excellent book in many, many ways. If you are looking for a book that explains the value of intelligence to your C-level, if you want to convince your clients or partners that intelligence can help them make better decisions, or if you just want to introduce a student to the broader world of intelligence in business, then this is the book.
Waters, who worked at the CIA and is perhaps best known for his earlier work, Class 11: Inside the CIA's First Post-9/11 Spy Class, covers numerous intelligence methods and practices that could just as easily describe national security or corporate work.
For example, he talks about networks but does so in the context of Apple's development of ITunes; he talks about analysis of competing hypotheses but does so in the context of detecting deception in new product launches; he talks about elicitation techniques but does so in the context of an industry trade show.
In fact, if there is a fault in the book, it is that Waters treats these subjects too lightly, that he does not spend enough time with any aspect of intelligence in business to do it justice. This is unfair criticism, however. Waters is not writing the book for seasoned intelligence professionals. The main purpose of the book seems to be to introduce many of the fundamental concepts of intelligence to corporate leaders who may be unfamiliar with them. In this, he is not alone. There are many books that have attempted to do the same thing -- but few have done it better.
Oh, and my student? It was Jeff Welgan. Jeff published the results of his research into using Search Engine Optimization techniques as an intelligence method last year. As a result, Jeff became something of an internet star (probably as much for the subject of his study -- Starbucks vs. Caribou Coffees -- as for his innovative use of SEO as a competitive intelligence methodology).
His research caught Water's eye as a perfect example of "new school" collection techniques. "The market implications are staggering...," wrote Waters. "He could start a business tomorrow offering this service to marketing departments, public relations firms, lawyers, press agents, journalists and political campaign managers across the nation."
My sentiments exactly.