Jay Okey, former CIA and National Intelligence Council (NIC), presenting a keynote presentation at SCIP Intellicon 2023.

If you missed this year’s SCIP IntelliCon Conference keynote from Jay Okey, former CIA and National Intelligence Council (NIC), you missed a great lesson in why capturing diverse insights and challenging assumptions is so critical for businesses – especially in the competitive intelligence arena.   

The major theme of Okey’s talk was around the importance of “expanding our circle of plausibility.” We are more likely to be surprised by events that we don’t think are possible and we need to be more open to alternative viewpoints in order to avoid being caught off guard.

Okey discussed how our human tendencies to find patterns and tell stories can lead to false assumptions and our desire to categorize things can lead to blind spots. To demonstrate this point, Okey shared the below image of a chameleon, which can be categorized as either a lizard or a reptile:


Chameleon optical illusion

He then revealed that it’s actually neither – the image is two women in body paint:

Chameleon optical illusion body paint gif

To combat these natural instincts, he stressed that we need to be open to alternative viewpoints and we need to be willing to consider the possibility that things are not as they seem. He recommended the following tips to stay diligent:

  • Signs: Make a sign to remind you to “expect the unexpected.” Considering leveraging a photo of an unexpected event to serve as a mental cue.
  • Lists: Make multiple lists. What have we missed before? What could we miss again?
  • Challenge our assumptions: Are the correlations we’ve drawn real? Are the odds accurate? Is your core belief sound?
  • Expand your sources: Gather insights from across the organization so you have a diverse range of thoughts, expectations and experiences represented. 

Okey concluded by saying that expanding our circle of plausibility is not easy, but it is essential if we want to avoid being surprised by events that we don’t think are possible.

Okey’s talk highlights why crowdsolving is an important business tool. When organizations limit problem solving, competitive intel, business insights and business ideas to a small group of employees, it increases their blind spots and fosters groupthink. When they make it easy and fast for a much broader group of employees to share their knowledge in a way that can be organized, reported out, and acted upon, they are able to more quickly identify early trends, learn about up-and-coming competitors and threats, and act on them before they cause unexpected problems.

Groopit’s crowdsolving platform makes it easy to gather and share intel from across an organization, without forcing employees to use new systems or break away from their normal processes to share it. If you’re interested in learning more about crowdsolving and how Groopit enables it, watch our 5-minute demo.