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Competitor Alumni Program

An Innovative Intelligence Tool
that Enriches Both Employer and Employee

New hires bring new insights

Many new employees walk in your door with substantial knowledge of the external environment, and some even have direct, recent working experience with a key competitor or company of interest, whether as an employee, vendor or customer.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to both the new employee and the company if, as part of the onboarding process, you asked him or her to participate in an interview about their perceptions of the competitive landscape – especially while those perceptions are still fresh and unbiased by the accepted wisdom in your company?

This type of interview is conducted as a first-stage activity of a Competitor Alumni Program™ (CAP) – a systematic approach to gathering valuable competitive intelligence from your workforce.

Make employees feel valued and grateful

By inviting a new employee to participate in these initial interviews – always conducted legally and ethically – you will achieve several positive results.
You will:

  • Signal that you value the new hire’s background and insights.
  • Reinforce the new employee’s decision to choose your company with a greater sense of job security. Why? Because the new hire now knows that he or she has joined a company that is agile and not likely to get blind sided by the moves of competitors.
  • Provide the excitement of participating in a cutting-edge activity and make the employee feel fortunate to be working for such a forward-looking company.

Initial CAP interviews use a combination of standard questions asked of all new employees and customized inquiries based on a new hire’s previous employer, function and position. Questions about the overall marketplace and individual competitors should be asked in specific categories, such as general competitive perceptions, corporate cultures, business strategies, HR practices, customers and their feedback, marketing tools and tactics, operations, technology and new lines of business.

CAP yields ongoing benefits

The onboarding interviews constitute the vital beginning of a CAP’s value and form the foundation for achieving lasting benefits from inviting employees into the network. The interviews are noted or recorded and transcribed, then entered into a word-searchable database. The resulting compilations are then analyzed for insights, patterns and trends.

After the CAP interviews, focus groups and other forms of research can be conducted to validate and extend the insights. These focus groups can be arranged around a particular competitor, a geographic area, or a key topic or function. CAP gatherings and follow-on focus groups might also be convened at a later date to hone in on critical new issues that may arise.

The CAP serves in an ad hoc fashion as well. When questions come up about certain competitors or competitive situations, you can call selected employees with relevant backgrounds to get their take.

In summary, a Competitor Alumni Program™ is an essential component of most Workforce Competitive Intelligence™ efforts. A CAP combines the resources of your HR and CI functions to tap the knowledge in your workforce and help your company gain and keep an advantage over its rivals.

Is there a CAP in your future?

Ask yourself a few key questions:

  1. How many new hires do we make each year?
  2. Which functional areas do these new employees represent and how many are executives, managers or other key talent?
  3. Of those, how many come to us from direct or indirect competitors, or from companies (suppliers, vendors, customers) that have done recent business with those competitors?

Your answers to these questions should make it clear whether or not it makes sense to set up a CAP. RivalScape can help you evaluate your situation, and provide expert assistance if you decide to develop a Competitor Alumni Program™.


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