Presidents and generals depend upon timely intelligence to shape their decisions in a world of ambiguity, hostile actors and disinformation. The savviest leaders in the private sector do the same.
Governments have broad intelligence authorities and powerful tools unavailable to the private sector, but they do not have a monopoly on the application of intelligence methodology and tradecraft. Your company can and should use systematic and legal intelligence collection and analysis to manage risk, identify opportunity and make better decisions.
What threats do I face? What are my rivals doing? Just who is this potential partner? When do I evacuate? Who is behind this cyberattack? Should I enter this market? The questions that intelligence can inform are limited only by the array of problems a chief executive officer confronts.
All CEOs have access to vast quantities of information, but relatively few demand actual intelligence: the systematic collection and analysis of information in response to specific requirements.
Without intelligence, companies are needlessly blind to looming threats, constantly surprised by foreseeable change, and wastefully failing to recognize opportunity that others seize. Why this gap? Failure to embrace intelligence in the private sector can be explained by three misconceptions of what intelligence is, and what it is not.