Peak Intel: How So-Called Strategic Intelligence Actually Makes Us Dumber – Eric Garland – International – The Atlantic

5 Apr

Too much power is in the hands to too few organization. More and more, competitive markets are fictions. When the whole world becomes Too Big Too Fail, it surely will, catastrophically and in one big long cascade to the botoom.

Thus, what use is the old model of competitive analysis if you are looking at markets in Greece right now? Which would have more impact on a given market: the clever, innovative actions of a CEO in Athens, or the politics within the European Central Bank? And how about analyzing the future of the housing market in the United States? Are you going to examine how much people are able to pay for accommodations and the level of housing stocks available in given cities, or shall you look at the desires of central bankers and Congressional policy-makers able to start new financing programs to end up with a desired outcome? How can you use classical competitive analysis to examine the future of markets when the relationships between firms and government agencies are so incestuous and the choices of consumers so severely limited by industrial consolidation?

There is no good way to reliably predict the future in these markets anymore, except maybe by being privy to the desires of an ever-decreasing number of centrally connected power players. Companies still need guidance, but if rational analysis is nearly impossible, is it any wonder that executives are asking for less of it? What they are asking for is something, well, less productive.

Denial is the strategy of choice in the executive suite:

One senior executive shut down a half-day event about future trends within the first ten minutes after a slide warning about “global aging populations” came up. The silver-haired alpha dog not only refused to discuss the fact that their average customer was near the age of social security and getting ready to leave active economic life, he asserted that Baby Boomers are not in fact aging, that “60 is the new 40,” that all future strategic problems will be solved by “getting our numbers up,” and that nobody in the company was to mention aging populations ever again.

Government too:

A 2008 U.S. government report on “Future Trends 2025” made the following predictions: that the U.S. dollar might not be the world’s reserve currency forever, Iran would continue to be a rogue nation, China would have more economic power, Russia would be rife with corruption and organized crime, and oil would be replaced by some other magic, stable, powerful, liquid fuel for the world’s increasing fleet of cars and trucks. The report cost the U.S. government millions of dollars, all to produce a document that effectively predicted 2006, plus an extra pipedream forecast of getting out of the world’s peak oil predicament, supported by zero technological forecasts from experts in the field. It looked and smelled like strategic forecasting, but was carefully produced to keep from upsetting anyone with scary challenges to their assumptions about the future strategic position of the United States. This is the new business model for an intelligence industry that once lived to disrupt its customers’ thinking, not reassure it.

via Peak Intel: How So-Called Strategic Intelligence Actually Makes Us Dumber – Eric Garland – International – The Atlantic.

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