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Toward Performance Standards for Usability

The following activities support the ability of intelligence professionals to honor the

Principle of Usability:

1. Ask the customer for specific product form requirements, such as the presentation

media, electronic data storage format, appropriate language and units of measure,

and reference annotations.

2. Negotiate with the customer over the most appropriate product medium, instilling

awareness of possible biases that spring from specific media characteristics.

3. Communicate the customer’s specific product form requirements to all supporting

intelligence production elements.

4. Provide, with the product, information that reminds the customer why he asked

for the product.

5. Review all products before release to ensure product form meets the customer’s

specifications; proofread for simple mistakes, and ensure the writing is clear,

concise, and coherent.

6. Provide classification, releasibility, and sanitization procedures.

What is Relevance?

THE PRINCIPLE OF RELEVANCE

Relevance is the “big-picture” principle; the fusion of customer requirements with the

appropriate data and judgments about that data. To understand what makes intelligence

relevant as opposed to merely accurate, objective, and usable, consider once again the

process filter model illustrated in Figure 2. Before reaching the relevance filter, data and

requirements are verified for accuracy and every attempt has been made to weed out

deliberate attempts to skew judgment of that data. Furthermore, the product has been formatted

in a manner consistent with the requirements of the customer. The relevance filter

is the final screen, where all of the information that passed through the Accuracy, Objectivity,

and Usability filters is tailored specifically for its applicability to the customer’s

requirements. At this point, potential consequences and the significance of the information

are made explicit to the customer’s circumstances.

Although all intelligence activities are conducted to answer documented requirements,

analysts who understand the customer’s circumstances may find it possible to increase the

product’s relevance by answering unstated — or unforeseen — questions that present

themselves in the data and in the analysis. The attribute that Relevance brings to this discussion

is pertinence.

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