So earlier today I was talking to a couple of analysts about my friend Brian and his stunning success in using Kickstarter to fund a game he’s writing.* One of the things I really like about the system is people who donate have ‘skin in the game’. That means you can generally count on them to help make sure the project is a success, either through encouragement (‘I can’t wait for this!’) to more concrete support (‘I emailed all my friends and told them to buy this!’ ‘How about this idea?’).
So, I began to wonder if there was a way to tap into that sense of ownership in an analytical shop. I therefore submit this for your consideration.
Imagine an intelligence shop where the analysts are afforded some control over their time like Google time. It could be something pretty modest, like 10% or 20% of their total work time.*
Analysts can then ‘pitch’ projects to their peers and ask for their assistance in order to benefit from their expertise (‘Can you take four hours to do a statistical analysis of IED detonations from 2007-2009?’) or can ask for time (‘I’d like to ask for 20 hours to complete project X.’) In the latter case, analysts would donate the time to someone whose project they endorsed and agree to ‘cover’ for them (with consideration for office needs).
The need to develop the pitch and convince peers to give up time they could otherwise spend on their own individual projects. This could serve as a way to strengthen the writing or speaking skills (depending on how they make their pitch) of the analysts and get them to think about bigger issues (like prioritization and resource allocation) revolving around the actually running of an intel shop which gives analysts some good management skills.
If fusion centers really wanted to be ‘centers of analytic excellence’ (and if terms like that don’t send chills down your spine you’ve got no soul) DHS would vigorously encourage them to be little laboratories that all experiment (and I mean really experiment rather than just tinker around the edges) with different ways to conduct intelligence analysis.
*If you can stand me plugging my own posts you can read about my thoughts on another way to view kickstarter and intelligence analysis here.
**Yeah, I know no shop actually works like this but allow me to dream.