Is Competitive Intelligence without Key Assumption Analysis just lots of words?
We have mentioned this once or twice. But in case you haven’t read one of our articles before, we will repeat it. Great Competitive Intelligence is about asking great questions. And spending time doing excellent analysis of the information you find is the cherry on the cake. In this article, we ask, is Competitive Intelligence without Key Assumption Analysis just lots of words and graphs on a page?

Once you have the questions and found the information, the analysis matters. It makes a Competitive Intelligence Analyst stand out in the crowd of mediocrity. So yes, Intelligence without analysis and some thought is just a lot of words and graphs. And Key Assumption Analysis should be on top of your to-do list.

What is a Key Assumption?

A Key Assumption is any hypothesis accepted to be true and which forms the basis of the assessment. It’s the most crucial structured analysis technique you can use
Within the world of Geo-Political Intelligence, structural analysis is more common than in business. Just AI tools, collecting data and monitoring websites seems to be the key concern at the moment in CI. But, in the Intelligence world, other people collect the information. Usually with tried and tested ways of getting the data from sources. This allows the Intelligence Analyst the time to analyse. And look at their assumptions.

A Key Assumption is any hypothesis accepted to be true and which forms the basis of the assessment. It’s the most crucial structured analysis technique you can use. The exercise helps understand your thinking around the situation faced.

Key assumptions checking is critical
So you get it. Key assumptions checking is critical and should be the foundation of all the analysis you do.

But we don’t like key assumption checks as it digs into what we really think. It’s testing our results and processes. It isolates the flaws within our superb work. We all like to think we are great at what we do. Certainly better than the others. We want to impress people with our work and wow people with our perspective on things.

If you are not doing Key Assumption Checks
And guess what? If you are not doing Key Assumption Checks, then you are likely to make faulty conclusions. And you are creating more uncertainty within your Intelligence. A wrong assumption can change the perception of everything.

Benefits of Key Assumption Checks
Conducting Key Assumptions Checks are excellent for the following reasons:

Keeps your mind open for new information.
Reduces the chances of jumping to conclusions.
It makes you look closely at the information that contradicts a fundamental assumption.
Isolates hidden relationships and links between key players.
Identifying assumptions helps explain the logic of the analytical arguments.
Isolates and questions potentially suspect logic.
Assists you in finding indications to cause doubt or support an original assumption.
We don’t know everything. And certainty predicting what’s going to happen in the future is difficult. Especially if you are not even looking. But that’s a different story.

So we have to face up to it. We don’t know everything. So questioning you, your teams’, and clients assumptions is fundamental.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive intelligence offers certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.
Another viewpoint
Another perspective could be better or complement your viewpoint. So, before you start anything, write all the assumptions associated with the situation. Brainstorming with post-it notes and whiteboards. And work through the following process and ask these sorts of questions about the assumptions made:

Review your current analytic thought and ideas associated with the problem. Don’t forget to write it down for everyone to see and comment on
Articulate the stated and unstated premises, which are accepted as true
Challenge every assumption. Ask why it “must” be true? Determine if every assumption remains the same under all conditions. Ask questions like this:
What make’s the assumption true?
How confident are you that your assumption is true?
How strong is the evidence that supports your assumption?
What if the assumption you knew to be true in the past is no longer correct?
What evidence do you have to support your assumption?
Have things changed that makes your assumption no longer valid?
What circumstance or information will undermine this assumption?
Do you agree that your original assumption is no longer valid based on new information? If not, why not?
If your assumption is wrong, why do you think it could have happened?
Have you found any new insights during this process that could help your analysis?
What are the key assumptions that you’re making about your competitor?
What key assumptions are you making about your market?
Why must this assumption be valid?
Does the assumption remain steadfast under all conditions?
4. List all the Key Assumptions that despite the debate and discussion “must still be true”

CIA Key Assumptions
Here are some Key Assumption questions directly from a CIA analysts handbook:

How much confidence exists that this assumption is correct?
How certain are you that the validity of this assumption is accurate? And why?
What can explain the degree of confidence in the assumption?
What circumstances or information might undermine this assumption?
Could the assumption have been valid in the past but less so now?
If the assumption proves to be wrong, would it significantly alter the analytic line? How?
Has this process identified new factors that need further analysis?
Is Competitive Intelligence without Key Assumption Analysis just lots of words?
Great Competitive Intelligence is about asking great questions. And then doing the analysis. In this article, we asked is Competitive Intelligence without Key Assumption Analysis just lots of words? The analysis matters. It will make you stand out from the crowd. And Key Assumption Analysis should be on top of your to-do list.

Art by Nick Fewings

Author's Bio: 

Competitive intelligence, Market Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Corporate Investigations, Commercial Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Competitor Research, competitors analysis, analysis of competitors