Friday, August 18, 2006

"A Holistic Vision for the Analytic Unit" by Richard Kerr, Thomas Wolfe, Rebecca Donegan, Aris Pappas

There's a lot to like here from my perspective. An excerpt with some highlighting by yours truly:

"The Holistic Analytic Unit

The advent of a Director of National Intelligence and changes mandated by commission reports on the performance of the Intelligence Community present unique opportunities to apply a new framework for intelligence analysis. Herewith is a vision for an approach that creates analytic units with a holistic view of their mission, responsibility, and capability. They will comprise physical units at their core and virtual units with presence throughout their areas of responsibility.

Implementation should begin with a single country and then expand region-wide. Once decided upon, changes should be made quickly, and high-level attention and enhanced resources will be key. The individual steps of the process should be undertaken simultaneously rather than serially.

Identify six to 12 countries or areas of particular importance to the US. Pick one or two, perhaps Iran and North Korea, as test cases. Create analytic units for the test case countries with the following characteristics:

Internal expertise, mixed with strong abilities to identify and use knowledge not resident in the unit. Avoid the myth of “total resident knowledge”

Very senior leadership, with rich resources in personnel and funding, to include significant amounts of external contract money, with contracts developed and approved within the unit

Creativity the key

Responsibility for the “whole.” Units should:

Perform research

Produce current intelligence and long-term estimates

Identify intelligence requirements

Establish collection priorities

Manage IC funding directed against the target

Non-traditional staffing. Units should include or have close relationships, including formal contracts and informal contacts, with:

Experts without security clearances, including non-US citizens

Private sector firms and Federally Funded Research and Development Corporations for administration and substance

Universities and other seats of knowledge

Inclusive structure

Self-contained assets for research assistance, contract management, conference organization, administration, and security

Embedded representatives from key organizations and customers

Strong external presence to ensure that the unit is regarded as a central player in the preparation of dynamic assessments and the application of existing knowledge

Assign personnel to other principal organizations in the area of responsibility, including Defense, State, pertinent Federal and NGOs, academic and private entities

Institute regular conference calls, videoconferences, visits, and other interactions with country teams, chiefs of station, national laboratories, military commands, State desk officers, and collection agencies

Preside over programs sponsoring in-country research, academic exchanges, student programs, conferences, and other efforts

New products and state-of-the-art dissemination systems should produce intelligence on a near-real-time basis keyed to customer interests and designed to provide reference material to support current issues

Intelligence estimates should be short, validated outside the IC, and focused not on single-point outcomes but on the implications of change

Strong, high-level review, accountability, and measurement of performance to ensure against backsliding "

Obviously constructed by those with extensive familiarity with bureaucratic resistance to positive change.

My only significant concern is the accent on "real-time" adds momentum to an existing IC bias for warp speed "reporting" over "depth" - both in terms of predictive analysis as well as an emphasis on clandestine collection of hard to acquire information, something that requires investment, imagination, persistence and time. The wide dissemination aspect though was really great; an attempt to leverage the advantages of possessing critical information ( Art Cebrowski would have applauded) and get the IC out of the need-to-know-basis/ Cold War mindset.

Read the whole thing.

Primitives of a really big enterprise architecture:

"physical units at their core and virtual units with presence throughout their areas of responsibility"

Let's say your business is to develop ATM that's sat-linked, solar-powered, and pre-loaded with life and crop insurance and micro-loan capabilities, you'll need to consider both physical and virtual structures that enable coherence and resilience.

Physical and virtual, action and technology.
Hey Critt,

"...ATM that's sat-linked, solar-powered, and pre-loaded with life and crop insurance and micro-loan capabilities"

Interestingly enough, American insurance companies have always ( "have always" being defined as the last forty or so years at least)used small rural farming communities as test sites for new insurance products. If it didn't play in Peoria then the new product was quickly ashcanned.

My question here though for your ATM, which seems like an ideal tech solution for countries without a real infrastructural base, is dealing with two levels of culture shock.

Curiousity about the machine will overcome the alieness of the tech but you will need some level of human interface/community intro to handle scenarios with high adult illiteracy levels.

Thought you'd like the physical & virtual model. Physical core and virtual nodes is a good paradigm
“Curiousity about the machine will overcome the alieness of the tech but you will need some level of human interface/community intro to handle scenarios with high adult illiteracy levels.”

Aw yes the monolith, “open the pod doors Hal.” It seemed to work out ok without “human” interface, ha!

I watched TPMB on Cspan 2 this Friday. The image of the ATM falling from the sky was a nice touch. Didn’t really make the “connection” until now, possibly it’s because I was born before 1960?
Beyond simple Automatic Teller Machines, I was imagining devices using Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). You know, boxes with automated rule sets for development projects, networked. The connections would enable coherence, resilience.
"You know, boxes with automated rule sets for development projects, networked."

I think places like Africa, in the past, had automated rule sets used for development that were networked . I think they called them missionaries. I suppose it depends on what kind of cohesiveness and resilience you are talking about.
Larry Dunbar's insight on networked rule sets in Africa---MISSIONARIES-- is a beauty - this insight gives me some idea of what Critt is trying to build -

"They will comprise physical units at their core and virtual units with presence throughout their areas of responsibility."- when speaking about the intelligence "community".

and here I thought that ConversationBase was a cheap way to create content for driving google adsense dollars to help Critt generate cash flow.

If you look at the links in the tool bar on ConversationBase you get the idea.-- all google ads - when will they appear connected to CB content?

Not that I disagree with making money while informing important conversations- just a different sort of missionary practice.

Google has had explosive growth as the world's largest advertising agency driven by mountains of
FREE content from the web.

If AdSense is a component in the yet to be disclosed CB business model - I applaud the cleverness of it all.

who needs a business model when google has developed it for you?

Dave Davison
Hi Dave,

Could the Adsense Critt is running really make all that much money? Conversationbase trafficis hardly Instapundit.com. Dang - perhaps I should look into this adsense thing and start throwing up occasional posts designed to generate search engine hits.... ;O)
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