A Conversation With Expert Practitioner of Analysis Carmen Medina
Carmen Medina served 32 years in senior positions at the Central Intelligence Agency, most of which focused on one of the hardest tasks in the community, that of analysis. Carmen rose to lead the strategic assessments group for the agency, then was deputy director of intelligence, the most senior leadership position for analysis at the agency and one of the most senior positions in the entire intelligence community. She also spent time as the director of the Center for the Study of Intelligence, where she oversaw ways to teach, mentor and improve analysis for the community.
She is also a writer, co-authority two books, Rebels at Work: A handbook for leading change, and Rebels at Work Dispatches.
We have been huge fans of Carmen’s for years, having observed her practicing her art in and out of the intelligence community. In this wide-ranging discussion we covered many topics of high relevance to business and government leaders, including:
- Some of her recent writing on analytical thought
- Ways to estimate intentions of others even in chaotic environments
- Using the actions of leaders to track intent
- Cognitive traps, cognitive bias and analytical methods that can mitigate problems with these traps
- Human nature when it comes to analysis, and ways we can improve on our own weaknesses when it comes to thinking
- The paradox of warning
- The streetlight effect
- Her sources of information
- Thinking in the Time of the Coronavirus Part One
- Thinking in the Time of the Coronavirus Part Two
- Rebels at Work: A handbook for leading change from within
- An Executive’s Guide to Cognitive Bias in Decision Making: How we think is critically important.
- A Decision-Makers’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence: A plain english overview with the insights you need to drive corporate decisions
- The Executive’s Guide to Quantum Computing: What business decision-makers need to know now about quantum superiority
- The Executive’s Guide to the Revolution in Biology: An overview of key thrusts of the transformation underway in biology and offers seven topics business leaders should consider when updating business strategy to optimize opportunity because of these changes.
- OODA COVID-19 Sense-making: A dynamic resource for OODA Network members looking for Coronavirus/COVID-19 information to drive their decision-making process. We’ll update it with new links as we encounter them. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a compilation of the most useful resources.
- The 2020 OODA Cybersecurity Watch List: list can serve multiple stakeholders. Investors can find firms that have demonstrated good product-market fit and are good candidates for follow-on funding. CISOs can find companies that have demonstrated real disruptive technology potential and at least enough traction to prove they are worth considering.
- OODAcast on YouTube: OODA’s YouTube Channel
- OODAcast Podcast: For audio to go
Organizations in competitive environments should continually look for ways to gain advantage over their competitors. The ability of a business to learn and translate that learning into action, at speeds faster than others, is one of the most important competitive advantages you can have. This fact of business life is why the model of success in Air to Air combat articulated by former Air Force fighter pilot John Boyd, the Observe – Orient – Decide – Act (OODA) decision loop, is so relevant in business decision-making today.
In this business model, decisions are based on observations of dynamic situations tempered with business context to drive decisions and actions. These actions should change the situation meaning new observations and new decisions and actions will follow. This all underscores the need for a good corporate intelligence program. See: A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence
This post dives into actionable recommendation on ways to optimize a corporate intelligence effort. It is based on a career serving large scale analytical efforts in the US Intelligence Community and in applying principles of intelligence in corporate America. See: Optimizing Corporate Intelligence
Cognitive Bias and the errors in judgement they produce are seen in every aspect of human decision-making, including in the business world. Companies that have a better understanding of these cognitive biases can optimize decision making at all levels of the organization, leading to better performance in the market. Companies that ignore the impact these biases have on corporate decision-making put themselves at unnecessary risk. This post by OODA Co-Founder Bob Gourley provides personal insights into key biases as well as mitigation strategies you can put in place right now. See: An Executive’s Guide To Cognitive Bias in Decision Making
We strongly encourage every company, large or small, to set aside dedicated time to focus on ways to improve your ability to understand the nature of the significantly changed risk environment we are all operating in today, and then assess how your organizational thinking should change. As an aid to assessing your corporate sensemaking abilities, this post summarizes OODA’s research and analysis into optimizing corporate intelligence for the modern age. See: OODA On Corporate Intelligence In The New Age
This post discusses standards in intelligence, a topic that can improve the quality of all corporate intelligence efforts and do so while reducing ambiguity in the information used to drive decisions and enhancing the ability of corporations to defend their most critical information. See: Useful Standards For Corporate Intelligence
Broadly speaking, a weapon is anything that provides an advantage over an adversary. In this context, data is, and always has been, a weapon. This post, part of our Intelligent Enterprise series, focuses on how to take more proactive action in use of data as a weapon. See: Data is a Weapon
Fine Tuning Your Falsehood Detector: Time to update the models you use to screen for deception, dishonesty, corruption, fraud and falsity
The best business leaders are good at spotting falsehoods. Some joke and say the have a “bullshit detector”, but that humorous description does not do service to the way great leaders detect falsehoods. Bullshit is easy to detect. You see it and smell it and if you step in it it is your own fault. In the modern world falsehoods are far more nuanced. Now more than ever, business and government leaders need to ensure their mental models for detecting falsehood are operating in peak condition. For more see: Fine Tuning Your Falsehood Detector: Time to update the models you use to screen for deception, dishonesty, corruption, fraud and falsity