Each year, I teach a class called Advanced Analytic Techniques (AAT) here at Mercyhurst. It is a seminar-style class designed to allow grad students to dig into a variety of analytic techniques and (hopefully) master one or two.
The students get to pick both the topic and the technique on which they wish to focus so you wind up with some pretty interesting studies at the end. For example, we have applied the traditional business methodology of “best practices” to western European terrorist groups and the traditional military technique of Intelligence Preparation of The Battlefield to the casino industry.
As you can imagine, some of these projects gain a bit of notoriety for their unique insights. One of my former students, Jeff Welgan, even had his AAT project written up in the book Hyperformance.
Beyond this deep dive that each student is required to do, the class is also designed to teach students how to evaluate analytic techniques for things such as validity and flexibility. To help with this process, each week we take a quick look at an analytic technique that no one in the class is using in their projects.
We start this process with a tour d’horizon of the available literature on the method with a particular focus on the literature that is higher up the evidence pyramid and relevant to intelligence analysis. At the end of the week, one member of the class runs an abbreviated demo of the technique using the other half of the class as guinea pigs. Once we are done, we all sit down and write up our thoughts about the method. Last week, for example, we took a (quick) look at SWOT. This week we will be examining various forms of Red Teaming.
All of this – the summaries and critiques of the articles we have found, and our overall “evaluation” of the technique – gets posted onto the Advanced Analytic Techniques blog each week. Over the years, the blog has become increasingly popular and I certainly encourage everyone to take a look and, if you have a comment, join in!