Exercising Your Brain with Master Thinker Habits #2 and #3
Randy Pherson, CEO Globalytica
As winter weather sets in, it’s easy to enter into hibernation mode and abandon our New Year’s resolutions. While February’s cold restricts some of your outdoor activity, I encourage you to use this time to stay disciplined and exercise your brain. Last month, The Analytic Insider highlighted my first habit of a Master Thinker, Challenging Key Assumptions. I also offered some tips for applying this habit to your everyday life. Below are two more habits to use at work and in your personal life if you want to become a Master Thinker.
Habit 2: Consider Alternative Explanations When confronted with a new development, the first instinct of a good analyst is to develop a hypothesis to explain what has occurred based on the available evidence and logic. A master analyst goes one step further and immediately asks what alternative explanations might explain what is going on. While at first glance these alternatives may appear unlikely, over time as new evidence surfaces they could evolve into the lead hypothesis. Analysts who do not generate a set of alternative explanations at the start and lock on to a preferred explanation will often fall into the trap of confirmation bias-focusing on the data that is consistent with their explanation and ignoring or rejecting other data that is inconsistent and would support an alternative explanation.
If envisioning an alternative explanation is difficult, then a master analyst will establish a null hypothesis, basically establishing in his or her own mind two hypotheses: X and Not X. The Not X hypothesis then becomes a bin in which to put what appears to be anomalous or outlier data that may at a later date might prove far more diagnostic. In some cases, consideration should be given to establishing a deception hypothesis. This is particularly valuable when there are questions about the reliability of the data, a lot of emotion surrounds the issue, or major information gaps exist.
Habit 3: Look for Inconsistent Data The habit of looking for inconsistent data is probably the hardest habit to master of the five, but it is the one that reaps the most benefits in terms of time saved when conducting an investigation or researching an issue. The best way to train your brain to look for inconsistent data is to conduct a series of ACH exercises. Such practice helps the analyst learn how to more readily identify what constitutes persuasive contrary evidence. A master analyst will have already generated a set of comprehensive and mutually exclusive hypotheses. If
she or he encounters an item of data that is inconsistent with one of the hypotheses in a compelling fashion (for example, a solid alibi), then that hypothesis can be quickly discarded, saving the analyst time by redirecting his or her attention to more likely solutions.
Three New Case Studies Available from Globalytica
Do you see the value of using Structured Analytic Techniques, but you are not sure how to use them correctly? We have the solution for you!
Globalytica has just published three case studies on the murder of JonBenét Ramsey in Boulder, CO; the aluminum tubes fiasco in Iraq; and the fabricated intelligence reports regarding Niger selling yellowcake uranium to Iraq which resulted in the “outing” of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Each ten-page case study is accompanied by a solution set that explains in great detail how to apply various structured techniques to that issue.
- Learn how to use Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, and how to validate Indicators as you try to solve the JonBenét case.
- Build an Argument Map and perfect your ability to detect deception as you work your way through the Yellowcake case.
- Perfect your ability to challenge assumptions, and conduct a Premortem Analysis to see if you would have done better in responding to Vice President Cheney’s questions about Iraq WMD.
‘Envision The Future’ With Foresight Structured Analytic Techniques (FSAT)
Online Certificate Course
In May and June, we will offer a Foresight Structured Analytic Techniques (FSAT) Professional Certificate Course. This course is designed for both students and professional analysts seeking to improve the quality and impact of their analysis in developing forecasting future events, using indicators to track emerging trends, and developing strategic plans.
This four week certificate program is offered on TH!NK Live™- Globalytica’s avatar-based virtual training program.
For more information, click here.
Diagnostic Structured Analytic Techniques (DSAT)
Online Certificate Course
Globalytica’s second running of the popular Diagnostic Structured Analytic Techniques (DSAT) certificate course began this week!
For more information, click here
Globalytica offers four Assessment-Based Analytic Certificate Courses designed to improve the quality of analytic and critical thinking skills in government and private industry.
TH!NK Suite® is a suite of powerful, streamlined, and collaborative webbased tools that analysts can use to employ structured analytic techniques effectively. TH!NK Suite® includes the Multiple Hypotheses Generator™, Te@mACH®, and the Indicators Validator™.
Globalytica Book Highlights
Psychology of Intelligence Analysis
Discusses how fundamental limitations in human mental processes can prompt people to jump to conclusions and employ other simplifying strategies that lead to predictably faulty judgments
known as cognitive biases.
Provides solutions to overcome these biases such as the use of Analysis of Competing Hypotheses structured analytic techniques and more.
For a more in-depth understanding of Habit 2 (as referenced in article above – Exercising Your Brain With Master Thinker Habits), refer to page 308 of the publication.