Using analogies to improve intelligence analysis
Intelligence analysis can be improved through the adaptation and implementation of best practices derived from study of similar practices employed in other domains and professions. Many of the challenges intelligence analysts face are not as unique as practitioners believe, but the insularity of the field prevents them from being able to identify the lessons from other professions that could be useful as models to follow. In fact, it can take decades for new insights into how intelligence organizations do their work and how they can do it better to influence practice. For example, in 2000 Richards Heuer observed that the success of his book addressing the psychology of intelligence analysis, with much of the content originally written some two decades earlier, was a source of some concern to him because of the length of time it took for others in the intelligence community to accept the lessons that could be learned from research into how people think.1 Heuer went on to recommend that intelligence organizations needed to bring in new blood, new approaches, and new insights as a way to help organizations improve analysis. This chapter follows Heuer’s recommendation by examining the lessons that intelligence practitioners might be able to glean from an assessment of the similarities and differences between their processes and those of other fields. Studying these other fields to see what can be learned from them, a form of analogical reasoning, could provide significant insights for the improvement of intelligence analysis.