DOES THE IC NEED TO FIND THE "TEACHABLE MOMENTS"?
From Kent's Imperative
:" The potential implications of this study are of interest not only to those that must manage the effective instruction and mentoring of the next generation of analysts and officers, but there are tantalizing suggestions that similar dynamics may be at work when finding a successful briefer. Given that most decision-makers tend to be more extroverted, and outcomes oriented, the tendency of these individuals to rely more heavily on rapid conclusions drawn from initial thin slice impressions weighed against their own knowledge and experiences, is likely to be even more pronounced than the average student."Educators have a concept among themselves, known as " the teachable moment" that is somewhat difficult for most outsiders to grasp (though sucessful salesmen, preachers, orators and litigators may recognize it). There is a particular place in time when a presenter of memes and the entirety of the audience to which they speak can meet and, for an instant, merge. Perhaps an accurate descriptor might be " synchronized cognition". In any event, like a wave, where there had once been darkness there is light; where ignorance had ruled, suddenly, insight reigns transcendent.
These moments are rare though accomplished instructors have a record of igniting them. Some became legendary life-influencers. Carroll Quiqley's
lectures at Georgetown
on the nature and historical legacy of Platonic philosophy, the classroom antics of uber-physicist Richard Feynman
, Chicago philosopher Allan Bloom's
master-mentoring of his students all were directed to a larger point and yielded ripples of effect far beyond their classrooms that have outlived these scholars themselves.
The IC is of course, not quite the same thing as an academic setting but the cognitive aspect is not unrelated and the stakes are far higher as briefers deal with top level policy maker "customers" who themselves, often, have an impressive store of experience and analytical capabilities of their own ( and very little time available to engage with the briefer). It was probably a fairly nerve-wracking experience for a CIA analyst to have to brief Secretary of State George Schultz
with unwelcome news. Or a Zbigniew Brzezinski
or any number the more formidible personalities of the Cold War era. Yet at times, briefs created historical tipping points such as the NIE that predicted a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, IMINT
analysis of U-2's flying over Cuba and most famously, George Kennan's
" which was less a diplomatic cable than an analytical tour de force by the leading Soviet expert of the Foreign Service.
Briefing has it's teaching aspects and if briefs of unimpeachably solid intelligence are not creating the impact that the substance merits, then it might be time to study techniques of delivery instead of writing off poor results and a lack of influence to "politics" alone.
Labels: academia, analytic, CIA, cognition, cold war, consilience, history, IC, intelligence, kent's imperative, teaching