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GUEST FEATURE
Drive-By Reviews of Analytic Methods

  Kristan Wheaton
Assistant Professor
Intelligence Studies Department
Mercyhurst College


Everyone has heard of a drive-by shooting but what about a "drive-by review"?

I am teaching a graduate seminar in Advanced Analytic Techniques. The core of the course is a series of student projects that hyperfocus on the application of a particular analytic technique (such as patent analysis or social network analysis) to a discrete topic (such as the political situation in Turkey or the future of oil and gas exploration in the Caspian Sea). The best of these projects wind up in The Analyst's Cookbook.

In addition to diving deep into these individual techniques and topics, we also work as a group to come to some conclusions about a number of other techniques. In preparation, each of the students selects, reads and summarizes a number of articles on whichever technique is under the microscope.

They then post these summaries and links to the full text of the articles on our Advanced Analytic Techniques blog. Each Thursday, we sit down and have a discussion about the readings. We also run a short exercise using the technique. We then try to answer four questions:

      1. How do we define this technique?
      2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this technique?
      3. How do you do this technique (step by step)?
      4. What was our experience like when we tried to apply this technique?

Once we think we have pretty good answers to these questions, we post what we have developed to the blog in order to capture our collective thinking on the technique in question.

Obviously, this is where the term "drive-by review" comes from. Such an exercise only serves to familiarize the students with the technique under consideration. The blog format, however, permits us to open this series of exercises up to others for comment and additional insights. Below is the summary of our findings.

Role Playing (four out of five stars)

Role Playing has been used and continues to be employed as a tool to facilitate training in vocational and interpersonal skills and as a method of active learning in educational and commercial settings. Though there is no single type of role-played exercise, the term is best applied where the teaching and learning experience rests with a form of `as-ifí experimentation.

The methodology is a recognized and successful tool in behavioral assessment, which encourages the application of the technique. In crisis negotiation Role Playing, which was done in today's exercise, participants used communication skills and reasoning to resolve crisis situations. Results from Role Playing are qualitative results that allow a detailed view of the particular scenario and possible outcomes. The White Team recognizes this technique as a 'method' as opposed to a 'modifier.í

Bayesian Analysis (four out of five stars)

Bayesian analysis is a method that uses Bayesian statistics to assess the likelihood of an event happening in light of new evidence. It generates an estimate and the use of Bayesian statistics in intelligence analysis allows for the uncertainty of the traditional intelligence data set to be understood in a scientifically valid manner.

Gap Analysis (three out of five stars)

Traditionally, Gap Analysis is a method used to conduct an internal operational analysis, whereas the Gap Analysis identifies the gap between a current state and a desired end-state within a company or agency. From an intelligence analysis perspective, Gap Analysis can be used as a tool to identify the likely pathway or pathways a target may take to arrive at a given end-state from a known position. Thus, Gap Analysis does not necessarily provide an estimate, but rather provides the analyst with a list of possible actions a target may likely take. Gap Analysis as an analytic technique bears a striking resemblance to several other methods, such as Indicators & Warnings and Decision Trees.

Game Theory (four out of five stars)

Game Theory is a method based on applied mathematics and economic theory. It can be useful when attempting to analyze (and ultimately predict) the strategic interactions between two or more actors and the way in which their actions influence future decisions. Game Theory assumes that all actors are rational, and can be influenced by various individuals and factors. Games typically involve five common elements: players, strategies, rules, outcomes and payoffs.

Red Teaming (two out of five stars)

Red Teaming is an analytical modifier that can be used in two distinct ways. First, in an objective sense, it is used to challenge emerging operational concepts in order to discover weaknesses with an organization's procedures and reactions. Second, in a subjective sense, Red Teaming is used to generate options for adversaries that may be overlooked due to biases or heuristics. When Red Teaming is used in the first manner, the effectiveness of Red Teaming is usually easier to monitor and evaluate. When using the second approach, it is more difficult to measure the effectiveness of Red Teaming, as the effectiveness is subject to forces outside of the method itself.

Argument Mapping (three out of five stars)

Argument mapping (AM) is an analytic modifier that can be used to examine the logic behind the development of a particular conclusion and/or hypothesis. The product of AM is a visual representation (typically a box-and-line diagram) of the reasons that support and oppose the claim. Constructing a visual depiction of a complex argument reduces the level of abstraction in evaluating a decision.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
(two out of five stars)

SWOT is the result of structured brainstorming on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of an organization or, as an intelligence analysis technique, of a competitor, enemy or rival. While not designed to generate an estimative conclusion by itself, SWOT serves as a possible convergent-thinking technique in the early stages of strategy formulation.

[Article courtesy of http://sourcesandmethods.blogspot.com and http://advat.blogspot.com/ ]

Kristan J. Wheaton is an assistant professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, where he teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses within the Department of Intelligence Studies. Kris holds a JD from the University of South Carolina, an MA in Russian and East European Studies from Florida State University and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame. He is a retired Foreign Area Officer from the U.S. Army who specializes in national security matters. Kris can be reached
at 1.814.824.2023 or at kwheaton@mercyhurst.edu




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