by Arik Johnson, Competitive Intelligence Division
At Aurora’s last leadership retreat in October 2010, one of the clients who so generously flew in to help us fine-tune our offerings was sharing how his staff was about to contract dramatically at year-end. This CI (competitive intelligence) director was looking for help identifying ways he was going to replace two key people that were leaving by the end of the year, one by choice, the other by compulsion.
We discussed the specific CI-related activities each of these staff were dedicated to, work such as newsletter preparation and answer-desk support, pre-analytics prep and information acquisition, vendor project management and workforce dissemination. As these two very different position descriptions filled out, I realized that, the work itself had striking similarities with another profession with which I’m becoming familiar these past few years through my association with SLA’s CI Division: Special Librarian, a.k.a., “Info Pro”.
The tasks themselves weren’t as much at issue as the desired outcomes and value these positions were tasked with creating as critical components of the larger CI team. In a nutshell, that amounted to contributing finished, actionable intelligence products that would help build a more holistically savvy workforce and culture of intelligent competitive advantage at a fast-growing, privately-held company where the chief intelligence officer of the company was two steps from the CEO and the rate of change (and uncertainty) continued to grow.
What was my advice?
“You need a librarian,” I said. But I elaborated: not two librarians either; one librarian, a “special librarian” embedded in your CI team, with liaison access to your information center resources to enable you to scale and centralize the research done throughout the rest of the company. Librarians know about all the things I just learned these other two team members do for the company. So, why not consolidate that work in a single individual specially trained for that kind of work. Better yet, there’s an abundance of talent available right now to get this work done.
What’d the client say?
“Hmmm…. You know what I think? I think you’re exactly right.”
Arik Johnson is the founder and chairman of Aurora WDC, where he works with organizations of all kinds to develop their intelligence apparatus to anticipate, monitor, detect and interpret change in their business environment.