Intelligence analysts need to reflect after investigation

After conducting the investigation, the analyst needs to reflect and take the following actions.

1. Be aware of the "satisfaction" pitfall

Closing an investigation with "That's enough" is an example of contentment. Some analysts may be content to choose a hypothesis that seems good enough, rather than investigate through all possibilities and base their conclusions on the greatest consistency of the evidence obtained. To address this, analysts must have sufficient time to develop broad assumptions and use them to draw conclusions. These conclusions can then be compared and contrasted in a structured manner.

2. Post-mortem analysis and structured self-criticism

This technique allows analysts to perform post-investigation critical analysis of assumptions made, biases encountered, and to identify any inconsistencies that undermine the objectivity of the investigation. It also helps the analyst to ask questions related to the process of gathering and processing the information. Critical analysis attempts to go deep into the cognitive process, looking not just at the answer but at what lies behind it.

3. Encourage investigators to broaden their skill sets into adjacent fields

Analysts don't need to be experts in everything, but they do need to understand the overlap and the context in which they work. If a detective understands how SIM cards, cell towers and texting apps work, he can better examine cell phone data. Likewise, analysts investigating people-smuggling cases may find value in having a basic understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Expertise is an admirable goal, but if investigators become too focused on a particular area of information, they will always only be able to see information through that lens. Developing a wide range of knowledge, regardless of its superficiality or lack of immediate applicability, can be of great value to the analyst.