Friday, April 24, 2009

Amazing Resource On Intel Analysis Methods (FOR-LEARN)

One of the sites my students came across in the course of our studies into advanced analytic techniques is the very good FOR-LEARN online guide to analytic methods. It is a site that ought to be bookmarked by every analyst -- business, law enforcement and national security types included.

Put together under the auspices of the European Commission's Joint Research Center, FOR-LEARN seeks to guide "users throughout the critical steps of design, implementation and follow-up of a Foresight project and gives a description of the main methods that can be used." Simply replace the word "Foresight" in the previous sentence with "intelligence", and this resource becomes an invaluable (and free) starting point for research into all sorts of analytic methods.

There is a ton of good info here but the first golden nugget is the "methods table" the authors have put together (See static image below. Click on the image to go to the interactive version).

Each of the methods listed, in turn, has a broad, structured overview of the method, along with a brief how-to, its strengths and weaknesses, a case study and some links for additional research. The outline is remarkably similar to the one we used in The Analyst's Cookbook and continue to use in our Advanced Analytic Techniques course (clearly a case, by the way, of great minds thinking alike...).

The site contains much more than just methodologies, however. There are sections on how to scope and run an analytic project as well as extensive additional resources included on almost every page of the guide.

The guide does not contain everything, of course. There is a good bit more to many of these approaches than what the authors have chosen to cover here. There are also a number of intelligence methods that are not mentioned here. Despite these quibbles, it is an excellent product overall and deserves some attention from any serious analyst.

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