Don’t Be an April Fool
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.
A far better approach is to pick up a pencil and write down the search terms you intend to use before typing them on the keyboard. This forces you to stop and reflect on what would be the most effective terms to use. If you wanted to learn more about the value of using Structured Analytic Techniques to combat cognitive bias, it would be highly inefficient to enter keywords such as “structured,” “analytic,” “techniques,” “cognition,” or “bias.” Words like “Heuer,” “Pherson,” or “intuitive traps” would get you to key materials much faster.
The need to stop and reflect is just as important when writing analytic papers. Before submitting a draft for review, use Globalytica’s Critical Thinker’s Checklist to ensure that you have produced a high quality product. By taking a little time up front to make sure your paper is soundly written, you and your editors can avoid wasting hours going back and forth on how the paper needs to be improved. Use the Critical Thinker’s Checklist before delivering your product or presentation to avoid being an April Fool!
Critical Thinker’s Checklist
Before delivering your product for review, these are the “must do” questions you should ask yourself. Does the report, assessment, or presentation…
- Answer the client’s key questions.
- Include both the What and the So What?
- Articulate a clear line of analysis, putting the bottom line up front.
- Provide new insights and further our understanding of the issue.
- Present clearly and accurately all the forces and dynamics at play.
- State the main point of the paper in the title and the first paragraph.
- Support all key assumptions underpinning the analysis.
- Reflect whether all the elements of the Who, What, How, When, Where, Why, and So What? have been adequately researched and addressed in the paper.
- Provide sufficient reasoning and compelling evidence to support all judgments.
- Consider alternative hypotheses, including the null hypothesis; assume the activities observed could be legal until proven otherwise.
- Identify important contrary evidence and gaps.
- Ensure that each section, paragraph, and sentence advances the storyline.
- Avoid bias, advocacy, and value-laden terms.
- Incorporate graphics to advance and underscore the message.
- Ensure that the paper includes required citations, and that all source references are correct.
- Express clearly the analysts’ levels of confidence in the key judgments and present the reasons for any uncertainty.
Upcoming Certificate Workshops
Globalytica, in conjunction with the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) and IAFIE-Europe, is offering those attending IAFIE’s 12th Annual Conference in Breda, the Netherlands, a unique opportunity to earn certificates in Strategic Foresight Analysis and Critical Thinking & Effective Writing.
Join Globalytica’s team of expert instructors prior to the start of the Annual IAFIE Conference at The Apollo Hotel in Breda, the Netherlands on June 22, 2016.
Randy Pherson, Globalytica CEO and Kathy Pherson, Globalytica President will lead exclusive, one-day workshops that provide attendees with:
- Interactive, hands-on experience with experts in the field Certificates in new skill-sets Opportunities to connect with other conference attendees
- Certificates in new skill-sets
- Opportunities to connect with other conference attendees
Strategic Foresight Analysis Certificate Workshop: Redefining the Trans-Atlantic Security Paradigm. How might the EU and the US restructure their security framework in the wake of potential disruptors such as the Brexit vote on 23 June, a Trump (or Republican) presidency, and the migration crisis?
Critical Thinking and Effective Writing Certificate Workshop: Practice leading-edge critical thinking skills that all good analysts should master. Visit our website for more information.