Allow me to start this post with a bold, but necessary statement:
The’Information Age’ is DEAD!
Welcome to the age of INTELLIGENCE!
About 20 years ago we entered the information age…
Skip forward 20 years and now opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Whether its Facebook, twitter, youtube, online blogs (excluding this one of course), open source intelligence, forums – such as Reddit or, think tanks, college, and universities and new sites, there’s too much noise.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. It’s like people are all shouting at me, and I constantly bookmark website after website due to some deranged form of Information FOMO.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available.
So what’s the answer?Here’s how intelligence analysts can say goodbye to information overload and just focus on collecting relevant information.
Let’s go back to basics…Tell me, what’s the FIRST STEP of the Intelligence Cycle?
Hint: its Direction…
Direction (the first step of the intelligence cycle), is our shining beacon in a world of information excess.
With careful analysis of each information requirement and RFI you receive, direction will be your guiding light out of th deluge of information.
When the intelligence customer comes to you and says, “I want to know more about this”, or “tell me everything you know about this person” sometimes intelligence analysts dive into the task and start reading / researching and processing reams of reporting assuming the customer needs to know everything… rarely is this the case, however.
By defining the customers’ requirement early, analysts can focus on better collection and provide actionable intelligence without needing to spend hours (sometimes days) speed reading old assessments and trawling through open source reporting.
Use these questions to better define the customers’ requirements;
- What exactly does the customer want to know? -if you don’t know, ask!
- Why? (What does the customer intend to do with your answer / assessment)
- When does it need to be done? -timeliness vs accuracy
- What do they (the customer) already know and think? -find this out so you’re not telling them what they already know!
- So what? What does it mean? … and therefore I must? <— Use this to question everything!!
Gone is the day of ‘knowing everything’, today there’s too much information. Focus on the customers’ direction first (and I mean really focus) helps you identify what really matters, and produce better intelligence.
The Intelligence age is all about meaning. It’s about knowing what you want before you begin. Quality vs quantity.
You Don’t Need More Information, You Need to Know What It All Means!
So how can you (as an intelligence analyst) filter out the noise and better determine what it means then?
Use the questions above and take the time at the beginning to analyse your role, and what value you can provide.
If you’re not sure how, try using this email script (below);
– – –
Thanks for your email / guidance.
I understand you’ve requested an intelligence assessment on [topic],
Before [I / we] get started, I just want to get a little more information about the task / project so I can focus my efforts.
Would you be able to assist by providing a little more information? The more I understand upfront will ultimately help to build a better product.
- Can you provide me any context for this request? – Why has this come up? Is this due to new or recent information?
- What is the intended use of the intelligence assessment? (i.e. how will it inform your decision), and
- What do you already know?
Finally, when do you need this completed by, and how do you want it (written, verbal, email)?
– – – – –
In summary. The Intelligence Age is all about recognising that information is everywhere, but having the ability to discern what actually matters and what information actually means! Modern Intelligence Analysts need to accept there is often too much information, and they need to develop the critical skills of recognising what’s important – quickly. The best way I know how to do this is in the direction stage of the Intelligence Cycle. So, use these questions and the script provided to focus your research and create better intelligence by overcome information overload in a noisy world.
Welcome to the Intelligence Age.