What is Political Intelligence?
Washington, DC Jan 3rd, 2008 -- The fortunes of governments, corporations and individuals the world over depend on decisions, often made behind closed doors, and with "Bribes" from interested parties here in Washington, DC. The word "Bribes" will cause offence to the nearly 50,000 Lobbyists who like to use "Persuasion though Free Speech" when they hand over their financial, or "In kind" offerings.
This process of "Lubrication" means that decisions made in committees and regulatory meetings may not go the obvious route dictated by logic. The worse case scenario is that the legislation, or rules were written by one of these lobbying groups, for their benefit, and adopted without consideration for external debate. Competition can be eliminated and the effects can be profound and long lasting.
Political Intelligence looks at the the overall scenarios, trends, and target subjects and delivers analysis to clients, more often than not in a confidential manner. Very little political intelligence is published free of charge on the Internet. The real intelligence is so valuable as to be restricted in circulation, maintaining it's value. The many widely circulated "Intelligence" newsletters and services written from afar are merely opinions gleaned from second hand information filtered by the media. The real picture is still gathered by exhausting pounding on Washington's streets, and listening to the political operatives. These political players are expert in polluting the media, especially the electronic media with false information and misleading opinion. This easily obtained material is unsuitable for corporate decision making, especially when millions, or billions of dollars are involved.
Political Intelligence is usually focused on the needs of the client, or media. For example we cover satellite, energy, tourism, aviation and pharma and some are "On the back burner" and others are actively pursued. The computers are collecting the daily news, reports and press releases, but follow up is determined by the needs of the time. Very few operations cover everything all the time.
The other misconception is that the big law firms, lobbyists and PR companies have the best access and information. They have their biggest and best clients at heart, and the intelligence will be massaged to benefit their major revenue streams, and downplayed when that stream is seen in a bad light. This is why many decisions, especially from regulatory bodies such as the FDA come as a huge surprise to the bulk of industry. Despite everyone on the Hill knowing what was coming down the pipeline, the concept of giving major Corporate Cash Cows bad news does not bode well with the senior partners of K Street companies. It is a better experience to accept a multi-million dollar check for services than inform a client his blockbuster product is considered useless and should be withdrawn from the marketplace. Every year the charade can be continued means more millions for the lawyers and PR practitioners.
But despite my misgivings having slow and incomplete Political Intelligence is better than having none at all. For the picture painted in Washington determines the shape and size of industry progress around the world. It is the foundation for the next stage in intelligence, the industry model. Too many corporations miss the total picture, and build a skyscraper of shaky foundations, often with a limited life. On the flip side the smart entrepreneurs build the skyscraper on advance information, ride the wave of political and public opinion, then sell it to some mug just before the political weather changes and the wave crashes into the political beach. Such a beach will be evident when Bush/Cheney leaves office, and Clinton or Obama moves in. There is a reason the likes of Karl Rove jump ship before the crash.
Executives need to pay more attention to Political Intelligence derived from original sources, and not from the mainstream media such as CNN. This is political theater, expertly crafted for maximizing audience ratings and advertising revenue. CNN nor Fox News are there to report unbiased, accurate news and information.
At the end of the day Political Intelligence, like all good and actionable intelligence, is available to the select group of clients willing to pay for for it's collection and analysis. The needs of the client drive the extent of collection, and depth of analysis. The more focused the better the results.
The benefits can be enormous.
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