learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

As with the “Five Ws,” this model enables decisionmakers and analysts to assess their

needs and capabilities in relation to a particular intelligence scenario. This ability to

establish a baseline and set in motion a collection and production strategy is crucial to

conducting a successful intelligence effort. Too often, both producers and customers

waste valuable time and effort struggling to characterize for themselves a given situation,

or perhaps worse, they hastily embark upon an action plan without determining its appropriateness

to the problem. Employing a structured approach as outlined in the Taxonomy

of Problem Types can help the players avoid these inefficiencies and take the first step

toward generating clear intelligence requirements by defining both the intelligence problem

and the requisite components to its solution. Following are example scenarios. The

reader is encouraged to follow the scenarios down the columns of the taxonomy table,

then generate new scenarios in similar fashion.



The Severely Random problem type is one frequently encountered by the military in

planning an operational strategy. This is the realm of wargaming. The initial intelligence

problem is to identify all possible outcomes in an unbounded situation, so that commanders

can generate plans for every contingency. The role of valid data is relatively minor,

while the role of judgment is great, as history and current statistics may shed little light on

how the adversary will behave in a hypothetical situation, and the progress and outcome

of an operation against that adversary cannot be predicted with absolute accuracy. Therefore,

the analytical task is to define and prepare for all potential outcomes. The analytical

method is role playing and wargaming: placing oneself mentally in the imagined situation,

and experiencing it in advance, even to the point of acting it out in a realistic setting.

After experiencing the various scenarios, the players subjectively evaluate the outcomes

of the games, assessing which ones may be plausible or expected to occur in the real

world. The probability of error in judgment here is inherently high, as no one can be certain

that the future will occur exactly as events unfolded in the game. However, repeated

exercises can help to establish a measure of confidence, for practice in living out these

scenarios may enable the players to more quickly identify and execute desired behaviors,

and avoid mistakes in a similar real situation.

A Business Scenario

The Indeterminate problem type is one facing the entrepreneur in the modern telecommunications

market. Predicting the future for a given proposed new technology or product is

an extremely imprecise task fraught with potentially dire, or rewarding, consequences. The

role of valid data is extremely minor here, whereas analytical judgments about the buying

public’s future — and changing — needs and desires are crucial. Defining the key factors

influencing the future market is the analytical task, to be approached via the analytical

method of setting up models and scenarios: the if/then/else process. Experts in the proposed

technology or market are then employed to analyze these possibilities. Their output is a synthesized

assessment of how the future will look under various conditions with regard to the


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