EDS on War-gaming

EDS fellow, Ed Kettler, discusses the similarities you can make between Military and Business war-gaming.

Ed states, “The military uses the mnemonic METT-TC to help commanders assess the situation, which can be aligned to business fairly readily”.

Military Business
  • Mission
  • Business goals and objectives (yours)
  • Enemy
  • Competitors and their allies
  • Terrain and Weather
  • Market forces
  • Troops and Support
  • Your own finite resources plus your allies
  • Time
  • Time
  • Civilian
  • Public perception/corporate citizenship


It’s a very elegant breakdown and I am generally a fan of military models and their application to business and CI in particular. However, I get the impression that what’s missing in this model is a playbook. Too often CI models focus on the identification of CI threats and not the “go-do” piece.  As a community we tend to hide these go-do’s in “recommendations”. Which is often a case of fence sitting in its worse manifestation.

Ed talks about engines (software/predicative models) that would allow testing of these scenarios. I personally think this would be a great idea. In the case of the Military METT-TC, for each permeation or scenario, there is a prescribed course of action. That is the baseline that can then be tweaked to suit the environment or level of threat. 

In lieu of these scenario modelling tools becoming available, what can you do as a CI professional to increase the effectiveness and adoption of your go-do’s?  Go-do’s, by their nature, require you to do something (or the null hypothesis – do nothing). Playbooks, especially those focused on sales, marketing or communication efforts are often where tangible changes can be made.  Playbooks, if done well, provide that prescribed course of action. The baseline that can then be tweaked and massaged, but your stakeholders will not have to start from scratch.

Playbooks can often be confused as sales guides, or battle cards. In Communications that could be classed as “staying on message”. You, as a CI professional and having that additional view of external and competitive forces, are particularly well placed to package your competitive insights into playbooks, adding value to some of these high-profile internal documents.

One such example could be a set of talking points on a new product release. You company has a major competitor and while the official talking points focus on the product benefits, the new partners and customer “buzz”, many speakers are left floundering if they are posed competitive questions.


Talking Points Competitive Playbook  
Traditional talking points that are baked into a standard press release If asked Focus on
  • Product feature A
  • Product feature B
  • New Partner in Asia
  • 100 new customers in beta
  • You have taken much longer to release this product and Competitor Y has stolen the lead from you.
  • Changes in market conditions towards a different deployment model that we take advantage of and our competitors (don’t focus on Y) can’t replicate.


  • Competitor Y has stated that they have 5x more customers in this space as you do
  • That may be true, but based on the same source as those statistics, we are growing 10 x faster or capturing (n) number of net new customers. None of our competitors can match that adoption.

You’ve now taken your traditional CI points, that you would use internally as findings and repackaged them to be instantly usable by the Communications team. They now have a set of go-do’s that will help them in positioning the company in the most favourable way. Using CI in this way, takes those dry SWOT’s and situation analysis and transform them into valued and leveraged insight.



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