Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tell me what you know

I don't think this is new insight, but I'll repeat it here for the record. In his recent book "Takedown" about his years in executive leadership of U.S. intelligence analysis, Philip Mudd* writes about Colin Powell's* approach -- in three steps -- to being an 'analysis consumer', something every project manager is almost every day:
  1. Tell me what you know
  2. Tell me what you don't know
  3. Tell me what you think
If every risk management experience followed the Powell protocol, we'd all be the better for it. (Left unsaid: the Rumsfield version of the Powell protocol about the 'unknown unknowns' and the Ignorance Management Framework!)

Mudd goes on to give his insights re analysis, certainly something every Business Analyst or project office analyst should heed:
    1. Maintain objective separation between those who analyze (analyst) and those who use analysis product for decision-making (analysis consumer)
    2. Be abundantly clear in the analysis product vis a vis the Powell protocol (as above)
    3. Always understand that an intention is not always supported by a capability, and that possession of a capability is not sufficient to impute intention.
Now, a close look at Mudd's third point is really instructive if you are bidding competitively for project work:
    • Among capabilities of your competition, what are the competition's intentions (beyond trying to win, of course)?
    • Among the intentions of your prospective customer, what are the customer's capabilities to effectively use/employ/absorb your deliverables?

Not without coincidence, this leads directly to Chapter 12 of my most recent book "Maximizing Project Value" (see links below) re 'game theory': the systematic means to assess the intersection of intention and capability.

*Philip Mudd: Former counter-terrorism executive at CIA and FBI
Collin Powell: Former U.S. Secretary of State, and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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