Analytic Capacity in the Future

A finish line typically signifies an end and a start.  What’s often lost in the rush to complete, celebrate and begin the next stage is the time in between the two very obvious points, the transition.  It’s this stage that we typically rush through in haste, eager to move forward into the new version, thus shedding the old, former self.

The transition time is a chance to evaluate, assess and make plans based on the review of assumptions, hypotheses and predictions.  Analytic capacity building, (my term for self-development of the analyst), is easily lost amongst the slew of items for review at any given time particularly when faced with the considerable external pressure of being asked to do more with less.

Horizon scanning, an element of the strategic foresight process, can help.  As we approach the end of 2012 and the start of 2013, try to use transition time to develop and hone your anticipatory intelligence skills and think about what might happen in the future to impact analytic capacity building.   Use of this tool is essential for analysts that wish to remain marketable and functional, in 2013 and beyond, but have not been provided with the external support or resources for training or development.   

Employment of the tool might look like this:

  1. Think about the current environment for capacity building on a radar screen.  What do threats look like and what is the speed at which they are traveling; think beyond immediate interests and situation. 
  2. Pick a time and issue.  Identify a specific aspect of analytic capacity that has been neglected, consider a time frame, beyond the short term and use the concentric circles as a guide
  3. Do your research! Consider the who, what, where, when, why and how; plot out threats.
  4. Spot and map signals that might indicate growth, change, high impact, low impact.
  5. Review and monitor; update biases and key assumptions as events take place. 

Please read Dalene Duvenage’s article, “Horizon Scanning” in Foreknowledge Magazine (Issue 4)  for a detailed explanation on the tool.

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