Imagine if you had to walk in to every meeting totally unprepared (I know – some of you are wondering why that would be considered a stretch). You had no clue who the others in the room were nor what their agendas might be. In this age of immediate access to overwhelming amounts of information, you’d look pretty dumb, right? But what if you had no time to prepare since you’re always so totally busy? You, my friend, need some scouts.Armies use scouts.  Expeditions use scouts. Teams use scouts in two ways.  One is to prepare for upcoming games by traveling ahead of the team and looking at the upcoming opposition to figure out the same kind of SWOT analysis you might do in a marketing plan.  The other way is to look for new talent.  Sport scouts have made a lot of club executives, managers, and coaches look brilliant over the years.

You should be using scouts in business for exactly the same things.  Oh sure, maybe you call them “researchers” but if you’re not listening to what the opposition is doing you’re operating in a vacuum.  I spend a fair amount of time each day listening on behalf of my clients – scouting their opposition – and not a day goes by that I don’t send along articles and other intelligence I’ve gathered on their behalf.  Scouting is part of my job.

The other form of scouting – talent – is something you need to do as a business person.  Are you doing courtesy interviews even if you have no job openings?  Do you walk around to other departments to meet folks who might someday want to work for you (or that you might want to steal away)?  I always had a list ready of internal and external talent I wanted to make my team better.

Even if there aren’t actual scouts playing for your team, you need the intellegence  that  good scouts provide.  How are you getting it?  Any tricks you’d like to share?

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