Briefing Officials with Fixed Mindsets

Volume 3 Issue 11

The primary task of an analyst is to help policymakers and other decisionmakers make good decisions based on the best available information and most compelling logic. This task becomes much more challenging, however, when the recipient of the analysis bases his or her decisions on pre-established, firmly held, and often immutable precepts or world views. Such individuals are usually more interested in imposing their view on the world—or on the environment in which they operate—rather than trying to better understand it. They see data as useful ammunition they can cite to demonstrate the correctness of their approach or predispositions. Information that contradicts their view is usually quickly dismissed or simply ignored.


Four Radical New Trajectories for US Politics

Volume 3 Issue 10

With the surprising result of the US Presidential election, a fundamental question is whether the American system of governance will undergo a major transformation. One tried-and-true technique for addressing such a question is Strategic Foresight Analysis. This article applies the Alternative Futures method to identify major drivers—forces, factors, or trends that will determine how the system will evolve—and pair these drivers to generate alternative scenarios of how the future will evolve. In this case, two key drivers are identified and displayed on a 2-by-2 matrix. For each quadrant of the matrix, a unique trajectory can be identified defined by the two ends of each spectrum.


Proving Analysts Wrong – Part IV

October 2016 Volume 3 Issue 9

Do you have trouble admitting you are wrong? Or convincing a colleague that his or her analysis is incorrect? Most of us find these tasks challenging because our egos are involved and we usually focus our attention on information that supports our view. This issue of Analytic Insider presents Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, the fourth and last of a select group of structured analytic techniques—including Indicators, Argument Mapping, and Deception Detection—that can spur analysts to admit their initial analysis was flawed and to work toward achieving a better result.


Proving Analysts Wrong – Part III

September 2016 Volume 3 Issue 8

Do you have trouble admitting when you are wrong? Most of us do because it is hard to admit we have made a mistake. We have a natural tendency to accept information we read or hear as correct, assuming it comes from an authoritative source. We are particularly prone to accept information when what we hear is consistent with our world view. Those who want to manipulate how we think, however, understand this concept.


Proving Analysts Wrong – Part II

August 2016 Volume 3 Issue 8

Do you have trouble admitting when you’re wrong? Most of us do because it is hard to admit we have made a mistake. Once we have come to a conclusion (like which political candidate to support), we tend to accept data that supports our view and ignore data that would undercut that decision. We fall into the traps of Confirmation Bias, Ignoring Inconsistent Evidence, Relying on First Impressions, and the Anchoring Effect. Structured Analytic Techniques (SATs) are designed to save us from these pitfalls.


Meet the 2016 IAFIE Instructor of the Year – Mary O’Sullivan

Special Edition

Congratulations to Mary O’Sullivan on being named 2016 Instructor of the Year by the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE). Mary has been an integral part of the Pherson Associates team since 2008, developing and instructing classes that have reached thousands of analysts and students in the intelligence community and beyond.


Proving Analysts Wrong – Part I

July 2016 Volume 3 Issue 7

Do you have trouble admitting when you’re wrong? Most of us do – and one reason for this reticence is being slow to acknowledge the possibility that we have made a mistake. Let’s face it- the only thing worse than being wrong is taking too long to realize it! Mistakes are inevitable, but we have the tools to help you avoid looking like a fool who can’t admit a blunder.


School’s Out – What’s Next? You Decide!

June 2016 Volume 3 Issue 6

The end of June brings the last day of school and months of new activities. Family members’ various opinions and schedules can bring complexity to even the most basic decisions. Fortunately, we have some Decision Support Techniques to help you with your summer planning!


How to Make Your Garden Grow

May 2016 Volume 3 Issue 5

Spring is upon us, and for many of us the warmer weather means working in our yards and gardens. Gardeners are often praised for their green thumbs, but in reality there is no secret to a healthy lawn or blooming plants – all it takes is proper planning to make your garden grow. The same can be said for analysis: just as the best gardens start with a design or a plan, if you invest some time to design your project or outline your paper before getting started, your analysis will thrive!


Don’t Be an April Fool

April 2016 Volume 3 Issue 4

One of the biggest tricks analysts can play on themselves is to forget to stop and reflect before plunging into a project or initiating a keyword search for information. For example, we tell analysts that if they enter the first keywords that come to mind when searching the web, they usually will discover — often after tens of minutes have gone by — that they have reviewed several screens of data without finding a high quality source or citation. In essence, they fooled themselves into thinking that by plunging in they would save time when the opposite is true.