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Intelligence: for YOU, for Business Intelligence or for National Security

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Executive Summary

Leaders

Old Guard

A Story on Poor Leadership & Thought Processes

Intelligence, Filters & Analysis

Integrity / Character / Ethics

Cognitive Diversity

Filters

The many Forms of Biases

Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases

Social biases

Research

Drones (UAV)

Linkages & Connections

Analytics: Data / Visual / Predictive

Analysis

Audiences

Critical Thinking

Pros & Cons of Intelligence

No Shortcuts

Conclusion

Being True to Yourself

Intelligence revealed

Definitions

References

 

 

Executive Summary

First, this writing is for Intelligence. That is, your own intelligence, intelligence in business settings for competitive efforts as well as for national security. You need to use intelligence, intelligently, in both settings. Intelligence, along with large dollops of cognitive diversity (discussed later as it is a pivotal component), creativity and innovation is paramount if you wish to succeed. It is also a basic primer on doing research and analysis, using some of the many tools out there and on your own thinking.

This writing is not focusing on the use of intelligence in the education system.

Second, this writing is about leaders and leadership but it does not in any form or fashion condone you in disrespecting or disparaging those senior (designated as ‘he’ or ‘him’ hereafter) to you. For those senior to you, especially those in your direct chain of leadership, you must listen to them and do as they request or direct, unless that is, it is an unlawful or illegal request. Either way, if your leadership is causing you pain (emotional, mental, physical due to stress) or if they are unethical and possibly incompetent, the best you can do with the least amount of harm to your career is move to a different section and or a different company or agency.

Lastly, you need to be true to yourself, do not give up hope. You must be true to yourself in continuing to do a great job! Those who deride you or cause you grief and short-shrift you will eventually be noticed for the poor job and efforts they are doing. They will be removed at some point, hopefully, prior to causing any lasting pain or harm to those members working below them. 

Leaders

To those senior and mid-level leaders out there, you have got to become cognizant of those members on your teams. If you, as a leader, are not actively listening to those members on your staff, or are not actively encouraging them and if you are not actively seeking out new ideas from these members – then you are most likely going to lose that talent to someone else or to a competing organization.

Now, let’s get this out of the way – bad and/or poor leaders. It is likely that you will fall under various leaders who will not aid you in advancing in your career. However, it is also likely that you “may” fall under leaders who will actually aid you in progressing up the career track you desire (because if they help you grow and succeed, they grow and succeed). Let’s hope you get lucky and have the latter leadership type, someone who is not just looking out for themselves…

Old Guard

  • These leaders may have a great of experience and knowledge on one or two things in their area of expertise. However, these folks may also be afraid of new ideas because it causes them to be uncomfortable, creating a state of cognitive dissonance
  • This cognitive dissonance state may cause states of mental conflict for this ‘old guard,’ one of which may make him highly comfortable with their older and possibly out of date ideas and two, a state where the new idea(s) possibly pushes him out of their comfort (knowledge, experience) zone
  • They might be afraid of someone who challenges the status quo (with respect) for the good of the team AND the customer
  • He might also be protective of his position, therefor becoming afraid of someone who thinks differently and better than them, possibly casting the ‘old guard’ person in a bad spotlight of falling short
  • Some of these ‘old guard’ leaders may also consider themselves to be ‘know it all’s,’ believing they know all there is on a topic – with the net effect of rejecting anyone else’s ideas, no matter how much better they may be

This list above is not a complete or comprehensive list but these are listed because I have seen these variations in front of me and was saddened by it. I’ve also seen others who had to suffer because of these types of individuals. And, I’ve been personally affected by it.

I was pushed aside from being an Analyst to being a Planner because they (a couple of senior Intel members, a civilian and an Air Force person) believed I was better suited for the organization as a Planner because of my background. They did not consider asking me if I consented to it.

They wanted to bring in another person who had more experience… Unfortunately, even a year later after this switch, that Analysis division was still getting hammered with many, many negative connotations for the “experienced” staff and leadership they had in place… 

A Story on Poor Leadership & Thought Processes

A little background is needed here for the aforementioned comments. In my case, instead of helping me to be the branch chief for that particular section, inclusive of my dual grad degrees and many years of cybersecurity background (all of which the Navy Captain who brought me in believed would be highly beneficial) as well as the Intel training and experience I had to that point (a couple of years), the civilian and Air Force person allowed a newcomer junior Navy O3 (GG12 equivalent) to become the branch chief.

Unfortunately for me, the Navy Captain who brought me in was transferring out when I was moving in and I was left to my own devices.

Note: This junior Navy individual had no cybersecurity / InfoSec or Intel background… As part this Navy person’s style, the Navy person wanted to wordsmith everyone’s material to fit what the Navy person thought was best, according to this Navy person’s “massive experience” There was even a point when I had offered to do a write up for Navy and I used an old term in my response (don’t recall the word). Navy actually thought I made that word up when I used the term, so I had to pull out a dictionary and embarrass the person (in private).

It was my mistake in using older, esoteric or baroque words with anyone who may not be old enough or educated enough to know the words I use…

Prior to this branch chief position situation, if I had in anyway been doing a poor job as an Analyst, it is very likely that I would have been written up, reprimanded (which I was not) or removed sooner.

In addition, if I were doing a poor job, I would not have had junior Analysts come to me asking me to be their mentor. I had to decline so as to not make waves with other senior leaders, so I resorted to penning a 13 page document on Advice: Intelligence & Analysis. Likewise, I had also been approached by others outside of Intelligence to be a cybersecurity (my other passion) mentor. In this case, I penned a 17 page paper on Advice: Cyber Security – Entry & Advancement.

So, in beating a near dead horse, be aware of some poor leaders and their thought processes… 

Intelligence, Filters & Analysis

As you go about your daily efforts of intelligence work, in business and national security, remember to keep an open-mind. Nothing kills off good, fresh ideas, from yourself or others, as having a closed mindset because you believe you are too good or that you know enough. You do not, none of us know enough.

As you conduct yourself and your work, there are some areas you must absolutely follow and remain above reproach. 

Integrity / Character / Ethics

You have got to remain true to yourself in many ways but the most important of them are as follows. Integrity, Character and Ethics – these are inviolate and sacrosanct ideals; you cannot fall from these branches. Everything you do must be aboveboard. These three overlap but the essence of them all comes back to being true to yourself and doing the right thing at all times.

  • Integrity       adherence to moral principles, honesty, soundness & wholeness
  • Character     a combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person from another OR a description of a person’s attributes or traits such as moral or ethical strength
  • Ethics          a set of principles of right conduct and/or moral values 

Cognitive Diversity

Each of us has some level of Cognitive Diversity [1, 2, 3], many of us could use much more of it. Cognitive Diversity is the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes. Basically, Cognitive Diversity boils down to someone with more diverse thinking due to their; richer, deeper and broader background of various experiences.

We all have different levels of learning, backgrounds and experiences that can prove beneficial to the efforts you are doing. The more experience – culturally, educationally and career – you gain in many areas, the more cognitive diversity you gain. I first became aware of cognitive diversity many years ago and firmly believe in the concept.

This broad and deep background is most beneficial to draw from in going forward. Having that broad background means you are and can be flexible and shift gears accordingly – willingly and adroitly – all without too much pain or grief. Some people, especially some of the ‘old guard’ are unable to do this successfully.

Having a strong background of cognitive diversity means you can readily adapt to the vagaries of daily work life (or just life itself) for whatever situation is thrown your way, overcoming any obstacles that spring up, taking it (whatever occurs) in stride.

Cognitive diversity is not just for the leader, it also applies quite well to the peers and subordinates around a leader. The more cognitive diversity or experiences a person (or group) has, from across a very wide spectrum of life and work, it will mean more:

  • Brain storming can be done
  • Innovative solutions can be brought to bear to solve problems or snags in the workplace
  • Forward thinking can take place in the group rather than the standard, staid, traditional isolated/insulated thinking that happens in many workplaces
  • Open and deeper thinking can take place and
  • Sharing of credit and less selfishness… 

Filters

This is a big deal, filters and filtering, especially when it is being done subconsciously. STOP IT!!!

You have to somehow become aware of your self-filtering modes so you can recognize it is going on and work around it. There is an excellent book that came out several years ago on self-filtering [4], check out the content on how people are self-filtering.

You can and should ask those you trust around you if you have some of the following biases, causing you to filter. These biases can be real show stoppers in whatever intelligence (info) you obtain, analyze and the intelligence reports you produce. 

The many Forms of Biases

This list is not complete by any stretch of the imagination but it does contain several of the bigger biases out there.

Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases

  • Anchoring: tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information that we acquire on that subject)
  • Bandwagon: tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior
  • Blind spot: tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than in oneself
  • Confirmation: tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions
  • Focusing: tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event
  • Sunk Cost fallacy/irrational escalation: phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong

Social biases

  • Projection: tendency to unconsciously assume that others (or one’s future selves) share one’s current emotional states, thoughts and values
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: the tendency to engage in behaviors that elicit results which will (consciously or subconsciously) confirm our beliefs

Groupthink and herd behavior are two of the most insidious biases out there – be careful and stop being part of the herd just because the herd believes it is safer, often times, it is not… Crowd sourcing information and problem can be a good thing; just don’t get sucked into the aforementioned biases, blindly following others. 

Research

There are many classified database systems you can go through, if you can access approval for them, to gain the knowledge you are looking for. Of course, we cannot discuss any of those here can we…

But, don’t discount any and all Open Source systems, networks, media outlets for any info you may need. Check out radio, print and TV/cable; MSNBC, BBC, CNN, FOX, NPR and others for content. However, be very careful of what you consume. Be sure that the information you gain can be vetted for credibility, reliability and accuracy. Basically, you want to be able to have facts rather than hot-headed, rabble-rousing, completely inaccurate information that the authors, hosts, journalists put together just to draw viewers and listeners. Be sure you screen all the glitzy, blustery, biased talk designed to gain viewers and listeners, which in reality does not offer any true content.

Ask your colleagues and peers for information, they might have a piece of the pie you need.

Do not forget other valuable areas, the Deep Web and the Dark Net (or Darknets depending on who you talk to) [5, 6]. There are many places of the Internet that many are not aware of, use them whenever possible to collect information. If you can gain access to various parts of the Darknet, you might be able to glean additional useful info from it…

If you cobble together a lot of information but you cannot vouch for its authenticity, you have to make a best guess estimate AND clearly indicate it as such when making a report. Remember, you are not trying to impress anyone, you just want to do a great job – your work will speak for itself. 

Drones (UAV)

As time marches on, there will be massive alternative sources of gaining good and reliable research and that will come from Drones. Drones, as they become ever more miniaturized (think cockroaches and hummingbird size) they will allow for more real time recording of sources of information/intel. Whether it is done legally or illegally, it is going to be part of the arsenal of tools that can be used. Law enforcement (LE) and intelligence agencies will start using them (if not already doing so, like CIA efforts) as soon as U.S. laws allow it.

Now, if you believe LE and intelligence agencies won’t stoop to doing this illegally, without warrants – if you think that will not happen, think again. There will be rogue officials/agents who will break the law and their senior leadership will say “well, it is already done, let’s use the data”… There will also be individuals who will illegally use drones to spy (peep) on neighbors and other strangers and possibly dump that video onto YouTube or Pastebin.

When the time comes, let’s just hope ‘you’ use legal drone content from authorized sources in creating your intelligence reports. 

Linkages & Connections

After doing your research, you should be in a position to make all the linkages, connections and assertions you need. And with these linkages, you should be able to back up as much of whatever analysis you make. 

Analytics: Data / Visual / Predictive

Another great set of tools you should be using, Analytics – Data, Visual and/or Predictive – all three are valuable tools to consider AND use but at least use one of them. Somehow, you need to finagle a way to get your hands on this kind of software technology. Analytics will help you in your analysis, especially where it may save you time when you have large datasets of info to crunch. These analytic tools will do some work in different or newer ways than you are accustomed to. 

Analysis

Do not be afraid to have radical or revolutionary ideas, they are sometimes necessary. As long as you are not unknowingly going off the deep end (and hopefully you have colleagues who will stop you) – keep going. We need more people with open mindsets and not afraid to play Devil’s Advocates or Red Team or “What-If” scenarios. At the very least put it on paper (hardcopy or software), something like a spreadsheet to help you line up or plot out your thought processes – it also gives you a way to go through various scenarios again and again, by yourself or with others.

Remember the various biases above, especially groupthink or herd behavior? Well, groupthink is what caused the Challenger orbiter to blow up. This was the situation where most of the NASA group was against the scientists who said it was too cold for the shuttle to go up that day. 

When you perform your analysis, you must be capable of performing deep thinking; thoughtful thinking for your analysis, not just superficial analysis that only gets part of the job done. That is an injustice not only to your customers (everyone else) but to you as well. You cannot do superficial thinking, you cannot afford to – unless you are asked to in a time critical situation. 

Audiences

Business intelligence for competitive wins or national security intelligence, either way, you have to be able to have a cogent analysis of all the information you gather. Craft how you use your words and what words you use to the best effect. At times, the way you craft a phrase or the way you use certain words, it will make all the difference in the world on how what you present is received.

Once you do your analysis and put that information into a printed (or soft copy) and/or verbal report, it should be clear what you are reporting on. The key, in business or national security, you have to determine who your audience is in crafting your report(s). For instance, apparently State Department members prefer their reports to primarily be a verbal format whereas some DoD senior leaders want heavy and dense PowerPoint reports.

At other times, there are those people who want very high level reporting with details in the footnotes. At other times, as mentioned a moment ago, you will have those where you must plug in as many details, written as well as images, as possible into a PowerPoint slide. A good trick, create a high level document/report and have a heavily detailed report as backup…

So, the key caveat here is, it all depends on your audience. If your audience is against you for whatever reason: racist, sexist, religious or political agenda, you will have to create positive, winning reports/presentations that will cut through that nonsensical chaff. Know who your audience is going to be – if you do not know, ask. 

Critical Thinking

In addition to performing your analysis, there is another big player in this picture – that of critical thinking. You cannot lazily perform analysis on anything; you must give deliberative and methodical thinking a major part of your analysis…

You have to take into consideration the different perspectives or viewpoints from all the parties or information involved. You need to try looking through the eyes of others to understand why, how, when and where something was done. You have to figure out what was the underlying reason was for whatever objective you are working on.

You must be able to look at the short term as well as the long term in your thought processes. We have far too many people in leadership positions that are myopic, they only, or primarily, look at the short term rather than the short term and long term possibilities of a situation or event.

You must develop the capability of thinking along multiple timelines and/or scenarios for simultaneous connections or possibilities.

Lastly, you have to try to see what is not there, try to see what is missing or what should have been in the picture you’re attempting to put together. Try to see what is not readily apparent to others. 

Pros & Cons of Intelligence

Let’s start with the Cons of bad intelligence, for anything – you, business or national security.

Cons:

  • Lives could be lost
  • Hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars lost if your intelligence and analysis is flawed or faulty – causing R&D time and production being wasted, inferior products being distributed throughout your supply chain
  • Brand / reputation could be significantly damaged, painting you, your firm or agency as incompetent or something else… 

Pros:

    • You deliver products spot on, for what the customers want or believe they want

  • With intelligence derived from solid facts and in turn those facts are thoroughly analyzed to save money, time and lives 
  • If done well, you look good – if done VERY WELL, you look like a genius…

No Shortcuts…

There are no shortcuts in intelligence. You have to have facts to make any progress to successful results. There may be times when all you have are gray, fuzzy facts from which you may need to put together ground truth. Do the best you can with those gray, fuzzy facts because you will not always be able to have the facts you need in a timely manner to be as successful as you wish.

Intelligence is not always easy. Sometimes, intelligence takes a great deal of time, a lot of deep thinking and consulting with others to ensure you are not going down a rabbit hole

Conclusion

Keep learning; keep going – if you continue doing a great job, even if there are those leaders who see you as a potential challenge (or threat). You keep going strong.

Somehow, in an effective manner, you need to show how worthwhile your contributions are, now and in the future. You have to somehow figure out how to be non-threatening to those senior to you who may have:

  • Less college (if any) than you,
  • Fewer certifications (if any) than you in whichever field, and
  • A thinking capacity that may be slower or not able to make the connections as fast as you

You have to be delicate as you go about your work so as to not embarrass these seniors.

I say ‘be delicate’ because I was in a position at another agency where I already had my undergrad degree, one of my grad degrees and two highly very covetous InfoSec/cybersecurity certifications but my senior leader had none of the items I’ve just mentioned. As a result, when it came time to grant some of us a government position, other people who had fewer credentials, no degree (or had a degree from a completely different field) or less experience obtained more senior positions to me thanks to their leaders. My leader felt threatened and did not recommend me for such and everyone else had believed I would be the first one to gain the most senior position.

As a result, I gave two weeks’ notice and resigned. This was a matter of integrity and character for me and if my leader (or any of his leaders) was not willing to fight for me and do the right thing, well, all I could do was be true to myself. 

As you go about your work, you will most definitely need to be adaptable to work flows and other requirements – like senior leadership changing the objectives two or three times in a single day. 

Being True to Yourself

So, remember when I indicated you should be true to yourself because things will work out. Here is what I meant. The Air Force person had only been in an acting senior position and as soon as it was filled with a permanent body, the Air Force person was put on a one-person team if I recall correctly, causing this individual to no longer be in charge of others, which made very, very many other people happy (how happy: as happy as pigs in fresh mud…).

The more senior civilian leader, well that person was reassigned/rotated back to that person’s original organization, which also made many people happy (although not as happy as the Air Force person being reassigned).

Now, the junior Navy person, well that person was removed from branch chief status not long after, as well as being removed from doing any Intelligence Analysis or Cybersecurity efforts, which also made many people happy. When it came time to request to stay another tour as a great many do, this person opted to move out of the organization as very few wanted to work with this person…

Me, I wound up doing a more senior position in a different section for a time before moving on. I was never a problem child. The only reason I could come up for my being coopted to another section is my depth of cognitive diversity in many areas, my creative thought process (it is within bounds, don’t worry), my ambition, my background as well as my capacity to not kowtow to anyone (with all due respect). Some people just see me as a threat because I foster a free flow of information and exchange, even from junior staff that may have great ideas for contribution. 

Intelligence revealed

So, as I said before, be true to yourself, stay strong and keep doing a great job. No one has a monopoly on your intelligence and how you learn to use if for businesses and/or for national security.

Intelligence knows no bounds, no limits. Intelligence does not give a whit if you are:

  • Male or Female
  • Old or Young (as in 80 or 18)
  • Black or White or Orange or Teal
  • Democrat or Independent or Republican
  • Ivy League or Community College graduate
  • Non-religious or religious
  • Gay or straight or a cross dresser

Your character, your integrity is far more important and that will follow you for your career. What matters is that you are constructively working at and using your intelligence…

 

 

Definitions

Analytics

Data analytics         a process of examining big data to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations and other useful information that can be used to make better decisions OR the science of examining raw data with the purpose of drawing conclusions about that information

Predictive analytics  the branch of the advanced analytics which is used to make predictions about unknown future events – it uses many techniques from data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyze current data to make predictions about future events

Visual analytics       a form in which interactive graphical displays of data are used to generate analytical results and insights OR is a visual method by which you get to make some of the linkages possible, especially when there are multiple linkages that the software can make for you – and faster OR a form of inquiry in which data that provides insight into solving a problem is displayed in an interactive, graphical manner

Big Data       multiple formats of data, considered as unstructured since you may not expect one specific type – JPGs/JPEGs, TIFFs, PDFs, .docx, .xlsx, database files, .txt, .zip (structured data is when you receive specific expected data formats to process) – all combined from which you need to sift through, analyze and make sense of to end up with the desired result

Dark Net      a private network where connections are made only between trusted peers OR deliberately hidden networks on the Internet unreachable by unauthorized users/computers OR unreachable networks for illegal / dissident activities OR small niches of the “Deep Web,” which is itself a catch-all term for the assorted Net-connected stuff that isn’t discoverable by the major search engines 

DoD             Department of Defense  

 

References

1 – Cognitive diversity: why is it important? https://www.i-l-m.com/Insight/Inspire/2014/May/cognitive-diversity, 9 May 2014, retrieved 11 Sept 2014

2 – Cognitive diversity, http://www.slideshare.net/joeg/cognitive-diversity, 3 Aug 2010, retrieved 11 Sept 2014

3 – cognitive diversity: a case where informed discrimination may be useful, http://www.wowgreatidea.com/articles/caseforcognitivediscrimination.pdf, June/July 2008, retrieved 11 Sept 2014

4 – The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10596103-the-filter-bubble, May 2011

5 – A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Darknet,

http://electronician.hubpages.com/hub/A-Beginners-Guide-to-Exploring-the-Darknet, Sept 2014, retrieved 12 Sept 2014

6 – Meet Darknet, the hidden, anonymous underbelly of the searchable Web,

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2046227/meet-darknet-the-hidden-anonymous-underbelly-of-the-searchable-web.html, 12 Aug 2013, retrieved 12 Sept 2014

 

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