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Abolish Negative Thinking

When trying to obtain information it’s easy be negative about finding it – and to come up with reasons why it can’t be found. The problem is that human beings naturally tend to think negatively. This is destructive to creativity and the ability to get round problems, and find solutions that are achievable and effective.

As an exercise try and think up reasons why a piece of intelligence won’t be found. I’ll bet your list looks something like this:

  • We tried looking for this once before and got nowhere.
  • It’ll take to long to obtain.
  • We don’t have enough people.
  • It’ll cost too much.
  • We don’t have the software systems.
  • It’s not ethical to obtain this sort of information.
  • It’ll be protected.
  • We won’t be able to find out the relevant people to interview.
  • Nothing will be online.
  • Anything useful we will already know so it’s not worth looking.
  • We won’t be able to verify it.

How many of the above did you come up with? What other reasons did you consider?

Now try repeating the exercise – but this time think of reasons why the same information could be found. Most people find this much more difficult, and the list will be much shorter.

Good competitive intelligence – in fact good research in any field – requires an ability to overcome these negative thoughts and to discover reasons why something is possible. Sometimes the solution can be obtained by an indirect approach – lateral thinking. Often however the perceived blocks don’t actually exist and the information is in fact freely available. It’s a case of the old adage “if you don’t try you won’t succeed“.

So, if there is one thing to do today that will improve your ability to obtain the competitive intelligence you need tomorrow it’s to abolish negative thinking and to always look for the positive. In fact looking for the positive will have other benefits – as instead of seeing things as obstacles all of a sudden they’ll become opportunities.

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