The value contract

Still more ideas from the SCIP annual conference in Chicago…

When I work with internal corporate practitioners of intelligence or research, one of my first recommendations is to run their operation as if it were a stand-alone business.  That is, with clients (managerial decision-makers), suppliers (databases, contractors, etc.), and possibly even rivals of their own-both internal and external.  This helps them determine where the value for their clients is, and how to maximize that value.

Few of the internal practitioners I’ve met charge back for their services—so they are essentially “free” to their users on a transactional basis.  In those rare cases where there is a charge-back system, there is a market value assigned to the function.  People either pay for the service at the quoted price, or they do not.  The user is the judge of what value is received, and whether it was “worth it”.

However, absent this market mechanism—which has its own drawbacks—there is no direct measure of value for intelligence.  There must be some proxy for it—typically informal conversations or a survey at budget time to the effect—Is this function worth its salt, or not?

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