Monday, June 6, 2011

Part 10 -- The New Intelligence Process (Let's Kill The Intelligence Cycle)

All of the examples examined in the previous sections are really just hypotheses, or guesses, about how the intelligence process works (or should work).  All are based on anecdotal descriptions of the intelligence process as currently conducted solely within the US national security community.  

Few of the models attempted to broaden their applicability to either the business or law enforcement sectors.  Very few of these models are based on any sort of systematic, empirically based research so, even if they more or less accurately describe how intelligence is done today, it remains unclear if these models are the best that intelligence professionals can do. 

Other fields routinely modify and improve their processes in order to remain more competitive or productive.  The traditional model of the intelligence process, the intelligence cycle, has, however, largely remained the same since the 1940's despite the withering criticisms leveled against it and, in a few cases, attempts to completely overthrow it.  

While some might see the cycle's staying power as a sign of its strength, I prefer to see its lack of value to decisionmakers, its inability to shed little (if any) light on how intelligence is actually done and the various intelligence communities' failure to be able to even consistently define the cycle as hallmarks of what is little more than a very poor answer to the important -- and open -- theoretical question:  "What is the intelligence process?"

It is to resolving this question that I will devote the remaining posts in this series.

Next:  The First Picture

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