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 they 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.
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Additional Reading from our Intelligent Enterprise Series:
This post is part of a series providing insights aimed at corporate strategists seeking competitive advantage through better and more accurate decision-making.
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 is part of our Intelligent Enterprise series, which providing insights aimed at corporate strategists seeking competitive advantage through better and more accurate decision-making. The first post provided foundational insights into A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence. This one 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
As a logger and holstein farmer, my grandfather was heavily dependent on the weather for his livelihood. Each year, he purchased a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac and it was kept in an easily accessible reading spot for reference. Taken on a day by day basis, the Farmer’s Almanac was not the greatest of guides, but if you took it on a month-by-month basis it claims about an 80% accuracy, which was more than enough to guide generalized decisions about logging and farming environments in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
The OODA Almanac proposes to identify those topics and patterns we see having significance in 2021 to guide your short and long-term decision making. Over the course of 2021, we will continue to inject additional observations on these topics into our analysis or as stand-alone tidbits of observed intelligence (OODINT).
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
Something is different in the geopolitical situation today. The reasons are probably a combination of factors that include the pandemic, the rise of the global grid of cyberspace, plus the payoff of years of planning and strategic moves by our adversaries. But whatever the reasons, the world today is more complicated and more dangerous than the world of just a year ago, and in many cases the risks being faced by open societies have never been seen before. The changes are so significant, OODA recommends all business leaders take stock of the geopolitical situation and assess how the nature of these changes should impact your business strategy.
“The world is a more dangerous and complicated place than it was just a year ago. Your corporate strategy and defensive posture needs to reflect that”
Kathy and Randy Pherson are authors of the book Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence. Both had successful careers in the US Intelligence Community. While they were at the CIA they pioneered new methods of risk analysis and analytical methods, and helped bring those methods to widespread adoption in the community. Both are also successful business leaders who created companies that build value for others. Their focus in business is on helping others improve their analytical methods. They write about and teach best practices in analysis. See: Kathy and Randy Pherson
This is the third post in our special series on the Intelligent Enterprise. The first, titled, A Practitioner’s View of Corporate Intelligence, provided foundational insights to kickstart any corporate intelligence program. The second, titled Optimizing Corporate Intelligence, provided best practices and actionable information you can use to improve and professionalize your corporate intelligence activities. 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
Our thesis is that America’s most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure. This is also the most attacked and least defended. In short, our most important infrastructure is also our most neglected infrastructure. We recognize that most all of our members are deeply experienced in the matters we are exploring in this series and we would welcome your feedback/comments and suggestions. We would also encourage you to use this information to shape your personal approach to decision-making as well as the approach in your business or organization. For more see: America’s Most Critical Infrastructure is also Our Most Neglected Infrastructure
The nation’s cognitive infrastructure includes the mental capacities of our citizens and the decision-making ability of people, organizations and our government. It also includes the information channels used to feed our decision-making capabilities and the education and training systems used to prepare people and organizations for critical thinking. Our cognitive infrastructure is threatened in ways few of us ever imagined just a few years ago. Old style propaganda has been modernized and is now being aided by advanced technologies and new information dissemination methods. It is pretty clear that our cognitive infrastructure deserves to be treated with the respect of our other critical infrastructures. Just like the other sectors, the government can have a huge role in protecting it. See: Mitigating Risks To America’s Cognitive Infrastructure
A recent RAND report looks at the role of information warfare and how targeted social media campaigns and similar approaches are deployed to cause damage to a state. RAND has coined the term “hostile social manipulation” to capture this phenomenon, which builds on familiar influence techniques including propaganda and disinformation. Hostile social manipulation is used to gain a competitive advantage by manipulating the political, social, and economic conditions in target countries through information channels. It targets beliefs and attitudes, not physical assets or military forces, allowing the activity to operate in a gray space that exists below the threshold of war. See: What You Need to Know About Hostile Social Manipulation
Corporate Sensemaking: Establishing an Intelligent Enterprise
OODA’s leadership and analysts have decades of direct experience helping organizations improve their ability to make sense of their current environment and assess the best courses of action for success going forward. This includes helping establish competitive intelligence and corporate intelligence capabilities. Our special series on the Intelligent Enterprise highlights research and reports that can accelerate any organization along their journey to optimized intelligence. See: Corporate Sensemaking