Competitive Intelligence : weak signals are the key to foresee

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I recently read Thomas Bey’s topic on future vehicle technologies.

The interest for future often (but not always) comes when present is unsure, which is the case as the economic crisis strikes hard. This is a pity, as foreseeing future is one of the keys to handle the present time. But most CEO do not know the way to unveil what future has in store for them.

This is one of the reason we incorporate foresighting in our training course. Without going further into this, let’s just say that foresighting is based upon the detection of weak signals. And this is where difficulties begin, as most people, including students, meet difficulties to understand what a weak signal is.

Weak signals : let the hunting begin

There are several ways to define a weak signal, and people like Elina Hiltunen or Estelle Metayer did it quite well. We can, however, find a clear example of what a weak signal is in communication. While we usually focus on the word we hear, it appears that 60% to 80% of the messages we send are gestual. This is no new thing, as 1872’s Charles Darwin’s « The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals » already mentionned it, opening the way to Paul Ekman’s work, which was « Lie to me« ‘s main source of inspiration. This proves, if necessary, that weak signals are everywhere, for those who are looking for them.

From diversity to innovation

This being said, using weak signals to identify opportunities is a bit of a task in small business units, concentrating on « strong signals« . The key lies in diversity, and cross-cultured people : ethnie, sex, age, training course…Which is why an increasing number of companies involve customers in the innovation process.

Long life Companies are those who take the opportunity of diversity to set themselves one meter ahead of their competitors.As Groucho Marx used to say : « Anyone can get old, all you have to do is live long enough.« 

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