Whatever way Intelligence is developed, it needs to be tailored for the benefit of the customer.
This article will keep your Intelligence Dissemination game strong!
Dissemination = Getting Your Sweet Intelligence to the Eyes (and Ears) of the Decision Maker.
In this article you’ll learn:
- The importance of tailoring your Intelligence Product to your customer;
- How (and Why) to separate Facts from Opinions;
- The Value of Feedback; and,
- Why Questions Provide Clarity.
Delivery of Intelligence Products
Intelligence can be provided in a whole host of ways –
- Written –> Email, PDF/ Word, Scribed on antique parchment;
- Briefed –> Oral Presentation, Phonecall, Zoom;
- Presented –> PowerPoint, Charts, Graphs, Images;
- Interpretive Dance –> yet to disseminate via this medium 😉
So in addition to being a PowerPoint guru, web sleuth, fortune-teller and caffeine junkie, you must be a savant for how your boss (read: decision maker) wants to receive Intelligence.
You don’t want to give them song and verse if they love a good executive summary.
Same is true for visual readers. I prefer graphs, images and pictures rather than a tomb of Intelligence text. Snooze.
The Presidents Daily Brief
The Presidents Daily Brief is a daily Intelligence summary developed for the U.S. President providing an Intelligence snapshot across key international and domestic issues.
The Presidents Daily Brief was initially a CIA all-source document, developed by the Directorate of Intelligence within the CIA.
Today, the Presidents Daily Brief is developed by the The Directorate of Analysis (Formerly the Directorate of Intelligence) but incorporates whole-of-government reporting across the Intelligence Community.
As each President has different presentation style and preferences, the President’s Daily Brief is amended to suit the president of the day.
The Daily Brief shrank to between nine and 12 pages under President Clinton and then consisted of a half dozen or so one- to two-page articles under President Bush.
President Nixon was a lawyer, and his Daily Brief was presented with facts first then opinion, on an overleaf notebook similar to a legal sketch-pad.
President Ford received his Daily Brief in person, from a CIA Analyst in the Oval Office.
President Carter didn’t give an audience to the CIA, and attempts to provide him with a verbal briefing were rebuffed by his Chief of Staff. The daily brief was reduced to about 15 pages – significantly shorter than version provided to President Ford.
President George H. W. Bush, was the former Director of the CIA and understood the value of the Presidents Daily Brief. He believed the best way to start a work day was with the Brief.
President Obama was the first to request a digital version of the Presidents Daily Brief.
The [Intelligence] Customer is Always Right…Right?
It’s important to remember Intelligence is only as good as the decision / action it spurs on… so it’s got to be relevant to the audience.
So don’t try to make the customer fit the product.
Tailor your Intelligence according to the needs of the customer.
If they want pictures, give them pictures.
Separating Facts From Opinions
President Nixon wanted his intelligence to be presented in a facts vs opinion. As a lawyer, he wanted to separate the reporting, and the CIA analysis.
This is how I was taught to develop and provide intelligence and is my preferred method of presenting intelligence.
I like this format because it’s like a math equation, you show your working out – how you got to an assessment.
How do you know what format your decision maker wants to receive their Intelligence?
Simple, you ask them!
If they’re in a position to receive and interpret your intelligence, they’ve probably developed a preference – so just ask.
Personally, I’m an executive summary kind-of-guy. I like a written product, executive summary, with plenty of pictures.
Brief At All Costs
When it comes to Intelligence dissemination, ALWAYS try to provide a verbal brief.
I know this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re developing a product that goes out to a distribution list.
But were possible, you should try to brief in person, verbally.
Verbal briefings provide the opportunity to clarify issues, emphasise assessments gather feedback needed to fuel more collection.
Feedback is the lifeblood of Intelligence
The quality of your intelligence should be known from the quality of your feedback. #intelligencequote
The more engagement your audience has with your product the better.
If you hear crickets when you’ve finished briefing, you probably didn’t provide the value needed.
You should always provide an opportunity for your audience to comment on the way the information is provided.
I’ve seen professional agencies embed a survey response within the PDF – Very professional, but beyond my basic Power Point skills.
At very least, you should send an email or make a phone call to determine if your Intelligence helped. Use this prepared script:
Intelligence Feedback Script:
You: ‘hey did this help you’?
Them: [response here]
End Script. 🙂
Typically, the more engagement (either through questions, or discussion) the better.
Questions Provide Clarity
Where possible, provide opportunities for questions throughout your intelligence brief.
Warning: Make sure you moderate the conversation and keep control and don’t let that guy trying to impress the boss hijack your brief. But do allow for questions.
Let’s say you’re delivering the Presidents Daily Brief, and you’ve got multiple issues on the brief, you should open the topic, give the intelligence, and close it of with an opportunity for the customer to ask questions before moving onto the next topic.
This provides opportunity for feedback, clarification, and recommendations.
It also allows you to know what the customer wants more information on (starting the intelligence cycle again), and provides focus for your collection efforts!
Budding Intelligence professionals need to be adaptive with Intelligence delivery and make sure it resonates with the customer.
Different people want intelligence in presented in different ways
Don’t be afraid to change, update or amend your Intelligence presentation depending on feedback, but seek engagement.
Remember, the more feedback the better the Intelligence product.