Inspired by the announcement of Intelligence Advanced Research Project
Agency's Sirius Program a couple of years ago, I set out to design a tabletop (i.e. card) game that would help people learn more about cognitive biases and hopefully learn to limit the effects of some of the worst of them.
My first two attempts were ... OK ... but I couldn't quite get them to work. Either they took too long to play or playtesting suggested that the learning effects were too small.
One day, though, it hit me - a design that was both manageable in terms of time and had good evidence to suggest that it would teach people not only how to identify bias situations in real life but also to apply effective strategies for mitigating the effects of those biases! In short, I had a good game with proven mechanics and a testable hypothesis -- I was off to the races!
This summer (finally), I am taking my best design, The Mind's Lie, on the road to actually test it. First up is the Origins Game Fair this week in Columbus, Ohio. I need participants to test the game and I figured where better to go than one of the world's largest tabletop game fairs?
We have a booth and will be recruiting potential participants for an experiment to see if the game actually works (we are also recruiting for new students, so if you are in the Columbus area and are interested in learning more about our program for you or your son or daughter, do not hesitate to drop by).
We will be playing the same game at the Global Intelligence Forum in Ireland in early July. GIF is unquestionably my favorite conference (and not only because Mercyhurst sponsors it...).
It is the only place I know where intel professionals from all over the world and from across all three major intelligence sub-disciplines - national security, law enforcement and business - meet to talk about how to improve the practice of intelligence. It is exciting intellectually, in a beautiful town on the coast of Ireland, and is still small enough to actually get to know some people (some pretty interesting people, actually...) instead of just bumping into them.
This year, if The Mind's Lie works like I think it will, the participants will get the opportunity to walk away with a better ability to evaluate evidence in an unbiased manner as well - worth the price of admission, I think!
If you are in the Columbus area this weekend drop by. We will be showcasing The Mind's Lie and all our other games for intelligence analysts in booth 745 in the exhibit hall. If you haven't made plans to go to the Global Intelligence Forum, there is still time to register - hope to see you there!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Inspired by the announcement of Intelligence Advanced Research Project
Monday, June 3, 2013
If our recent report on national security hiring for entry level intel analysts was bleak and the similar report for intelligence in business was positively rosy, then the annual report for law enforcement (LE) falls somewhere in the middle.
The major reason for the lack of clarity in this particular market is the lack of corroboration of our sources. One the one hand, almost 66% of those surveyed, all of who had direct or significant indirect information of hiring intentions within their organizations and within LE more generally, indicated that they thought hiring would increase. The same crowd, when asked about hiring within their own agencies or organizations, however, were much more conservative - only about 28% expected hiring to increase.
We saw the same effect last year and we are still at a loss to explain it. At first blush, it looks like a simple grass-is-greener effect: "Everything looks great -- except for right here..." We think it may be more complex than that for a number of reasons the first of which is that hiring, particularly in small to medium sized LE agencies, does appear to be picking up. It is something we intend to keep an eye on for next year.
What is more clear is the functions that are in demand: Crime analysis and cyber remain hot. What is more interesting, however, is the amount of push-back we received with respect to compartmentalizing functions at all. As one respondent stated, "While there may be a need for specializations in Federal Government agencies, I think most small to mid-sized agencies will continue to need analysts [with] a combination of skills..."
Written by Greg Marchwinski (the author of this year's other two reports), the entire document is well worth the read!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Take a look at this excerpt from the executive summary:
"Due to an increase in job creation and the growth of several key industries such as healthcare and finance, it is likely that overall hiring of entry-level research, intelligence, and strategy analysts in the private and business sector will increase significantly over the next twelve months."If that doesn't grab your attention, take a look at the charts below:
Note how few of the functional areas of intelligence within the (non-defense) business community had any expectation of a decrease at all. More importantly, note how many of the experts expected hiring of entry-level intel analysts to actually increase.
It is not all peaches and cream, though. Greg Marchwinski, the author of the report and one of our top grad students, cites a number of issues confronting any entry-level analyst trying to find employment in the business community (not the least of which is the inconsistent way in which job titles are used to describe intelligence, research, and analysis positions in the private and business sector).
Despite this, it looks like the next 12 months may shape up to be a bit of a seller's market for entry-level intel analysts with the right skills trying to break into business. Welcome news indeed!
Monday, April 22, 2013
The question the students were asked to examine does not seem (to me, at least) to be very relevant to the investigation:
What is the current severity and effectiveness of the insurgency in the North and South Caucasus regions (in regards to the quantitative and geographic growth and spread of violence) and how is it likely to change between now and the 2008 Russian Presidential election?That said, and looking at it today, I think there might be some value in the large amount of background information they were able to collect, their link analysis of the various insurgency groups in the region, and their resources page (which includes a number of links to various maps of the area - I find it particularly interesting that the CommunityWalk maps they built identifying all of the attacks in the region still seem to be working!).
What are the capabilities and effectiveness of Russian military and security forces to combat the insurgency?
I have lost track of most of the students who wrote the report but I suspect they are working as analysts today and may even be working this issue. If so, good luck to you all - you did a great job back then and I am certain you are doing a great job today!
Friday, April 5, 2013
My first Kickstarter project, for my card game Widget, will end at 1758 on Saturday April 6 -- about 30 hours from now. The chart below shows the progress to date.
Most people wait until after it is all over to capture their thoughts about the process. I wanted to do something a bit different: Capture my thoughts just before the project ended and then compare these impressions to my more considered ones after the campaign was over.
Best Surprise: The level of support from all sorts of people - many of whom I don't know (or didn't know until this project began). Family, friends, former students, colleagues, other game designers(!), artists, and people I have never met from countries I have never visited have helped get Widget to its goal and well over it. I absolutely love this aspect of Kickstarter! It is incredibly rewarding to work directly with the people most interested in the game.
Worst Surprise: My level of exhaustion. I am tired, folks -- bone tired. While eminently rewarding, this process has worn me out both physically and emotionally much more than I expected. It is kind of like having your first child. You have no idea what to expect next and your "baby" keeps throwing surprises at you.
Most Interesting Finding: My total inability to use Twitter to help generate pledges. I spent a lot of time on Twitter and got extraordinarily good responses from people - lots of re-tweets and some interesting conversations. 100s of thousands of people have received tweets about Widget at this point. Return on time invested? 4 pledges, $65. While I am not discounting the intangible value of the experience, it is clear I am either "doing it wrong" (likely), Twitter can't really help in this way (hmmm...), or Twitter can't really help at all (unlikely but possible). Something I intend to think hard about...
My next steps are to make it through the next 30 hours or so and then get the game printed and out the door. And yes, I am already working on my next project!