Intelligence Agencies’ Problem: Strategic Planning

Strategy formulation

It seems that most organizations that deal with strategic planning are still struggling to adjust themselves to today’s changing environment. Most government organizations, especially those dealing with knowledge development, are still characterized by the following:

  • A hierarchical and compartmentalized organizational structure.
  • A clear distinction between professional functions and fields of expertise.
  • Limited access to non-confidential (“civilian”) information and analysis, as well as a tendency to depend on classified information.
  • Over-reliance on the “gut feelings” of a small number of highly experienced analysts and deep familiarity with their research subjects.
  • Lack of collaborative tools — and sometimes even lack of collaborative culture.

These characteristics are problematic when dealing with complex issues requiring several fields of expertise and deep integration of these fields. Organizational separation often leads to a similar separation in analysis, even though reality is not subject to such limitations. Furthermore, the need to run collection efforts, analysis and recommendations through the chain of command creates a cumbersome analytic process that hinders the necessary ability to address issues quickly and maintain relevancy. Classified sources of information do bring unique value that is otherwise inaccessible, but in the digital age (where opinions, trends and events exist in open sources, and where civilian, non-classified institutions generate formidable analysis), over-reliance on classified sources might lead to a distorted perception of reality.

Lastly, when covering many issues on an ongoing basis, a structured yet flexible
methodology is crucial for creating comparisons (e.g., between different time periods or between different regions), recognizing correlations and identifying early-warning signposts. The basic scientific demand of replicable research is of the essence when investigating complex social phenomena.

About the author


Dr. Shay Hershkovitz
Wikistrat Chief Strategy Officer
Director of Analytic Community

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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