Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2017 and the repost of our annual Intelligence New Year’s Resolutions.

The last couple of years I’ve posted the same 4 critical resolutions for your competitive intelligence or “market reconnaissance” capabilities. These original resolutions are summarized below and remain as relevant now as when originally published.

In 2016 I added to the original 4: Don’t Wait to be Blessed!

Don’t Wait to be Blessed came from a discussion with my friend Becky Okamoto about the challenges of organization change. She pointed out the common laziness and lack of personal leadership that are rife in organizations screaming for help, whether with personnel development or growing capability.

Borrowing her phrase, I still see too many nascent (and established) intelligence groups waiting for some voice from on high to “bless the mission” and somehow sweep away obstacles to organizational uptake for intelligence.

Don’t wait!

The blessing and the sweep aren’t coming … or at least not in a form satisfactory enough to ensure success.

First off, many of your bosses and clients won’t understand what you are trying to do until you’ve done it. Second, chances are you won’t get it right the first time or two.

Intelligence is a fluid, trial and error enterprise. Focusing on “paint-by-numbers” action planning and organizational chartering is mostly a waste of time.  And waiting for a clear mandate from above is a sure license to fail.

Instead, go do it! Go make results and then build from your success. You can put wrapping on the intelligence gift after it’s opened … no one will remember that you acted before you got permission.

The original Strategy Shapers’ Intelligence New Year’s Resolutions…

Put Winning First … Our raison d’etre is (or needs to be) to help our firms succeed in the market. Too often we get wrapped around the wheel of process and forget this simple mission. In 2017, let’s put winning front and center. Read more….

Take Responsibility with Passion … Too many intelligence professionals adopt a dispassionate, stand-offish … dare I say, “clinical” … attitude to their work. They want to leave the hard work of “owning” decisions to others, to their bosses. If we want to make a deep and lasting impact on our firms … if we want a healthy profession … we need to stop this and join the team. Read more….

Take it to the Street … If we can’t translate intelligence insights into BOTH tactical and strategic actions that are practical and tuned to current market realities, whatever brilliance contained in our analysis will be lost. If we act like theorists and not like operations, marketing or sales lieutenants, then our impact on business results will be forever limited. Read more….

Think Financially … Good, bad or ugly, the world marks organizational success and failure in financial terms. All the best primary source evidence, analytical sophistication and analyst passion can’t overcome financial market opinion. So let’s not dismiss the Wall Street or Fleet Street point-of-view. Let’s understand it and make it part of our intelligence toolkit. Read more….

What resolutions and goals do you have for your intelligence team? Let’s talk about them. Add your comments or send me a note. Happy New Year!

Worth remembering…


Whatever your beliefs, know this:  You are lucky to spend a small time on this warm, lush and life-filled orb. Whether by chance or design, you have much to be thankful for. The hurts, disappointments and bad turns pass away. The manifest blessings of life march on. So pray!

If the only prayer you said in your life was, “thank you”, that would suffice.  Meister Eckhart

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  Thornton Wilder

Now, let’s eat!


… So pumps the ole’ calliope.


Sadly, there will be a new saint among their number.  We lost a grand and wonderful mother this past weekend. We will miss her, but she will add to Heaven’s great complement. Of that, there is no doubt!

Louise John Brooks (Carrie Louise Murrell) died Friday, November 11th in Cincinnati. She was born December 20, 1920 in Taylorsville, Kentucky but moved to Erlanger as a child. She was the daughter of Grover and Eddie Mae Murrell and was preceded in death by four brothers and sisters:  Martha Whimpey, Virgil Murrell, Hattie Funderburk and Grover “Red” Murrell, Jr.

Louise was widow to Philip Preston (Pres) Brooks (2002-2015) and Arthur Victor John (1948-1984). She is survived by all of Mr. Brooks’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who all loved her dearly.

Louise graduated Lloyd Memorial High School in 1939, and attended the University of Cincinnati after the Second World War. During and after the war, Louise built a career as an administrative and executive assistant, working for various firms including Gibson Greeting, General Motors, and First National Bank (US Bank), capped off by 25 years at Central Trust (PNC).

In retirement, Louise was active in many charitable and volunteer causes. She volunteered at the St. Francis – St. John hospital (Mercy Queen City Medical Center) in guest reception. She spent more than 20 years as volunteer at Cincinnati Music Hall, eventually serving as supervisor of volunteers for Music Hall and Memorial Hall, serving The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet. She was a founder and early board member of the Lloyd Memorial High School Alumni Association and remained active with the Alumni until her death.

Louise enjoyed family and friends, adopting many friends as family. She also had a passion for travel, visiting all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Her favorite form of travel, however, was by steamboat, having made more than 20 trips on the Delta Queen and numerous trips on the Mississippi Queen and other paddlewheel steamers.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Lloyd Memorial High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, 450 Bartlett Avenue, Erlanger KY 41018-1685.


So read the Armistice order in November, 1918.  And the guns fell silent.

Today, the English speaking world Remembers … it is Remembrance Day, honoring the dreadful sacrifice of an entire generation on the fields of France and Flanders.

We in the US have broadened this holiday to honor all our military veterans.  Take a moment to thank them for their service!


Nov 9


Just as I was glad Scotland stayed in union with England and Wales, I am for BREXIT! This great nation that has been such a power for good in the world needs to reclaim its destiny.  These two perspectives seem right:

Famed professor Clayton Christensen hits upon a major problem with an increasingly secular, expert driven society. When individuals lose their moral underpinnings, they can no longer be cooperative in the social contract. Then the authoritarians take control and the whole ball of wax melts away. Christensen is profoundly right…

Professor Deirdre McCloskey is at it again. In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal she laid out the reason wealth and progress took off at the end of the 18th Century and hasn’t looked back. (Despite significant and ongoing effort to strangle the baby.) In summary:

The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans were liberated. From Luther’s reformation through the Dutch revolt against Spain after 1568 and England’s turmoil in the Civil War of the 1640s, down to the American and French revolutions, Europeans came to believe that common people should be liberated to have a go. You might call it: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To use another big concept, what came—slowly, imperfectly—was equality. It was not an equality of outcome, which might be labeled “French” in honor of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Piketty. It was, so to speak, “Scottish,” in honor of David Hume and Adam Smith: equality before the law and equality of social dignity. It made people bold to pursue betterments on their own account. It was, as Smith put it, “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.”

A full read is absolutely worth the time. The essay is a set up for McCloskey’s new book. But it builds on themes she has laid out before.

When the answer is so straightforward you have to wonder why so many politicians, academics, elites, and even “business leaders”, seem so desperate to put the genie back in the bottle?

May 4

Great little conversation here that explains a lot about how we got to yesterday’s election result …