Tag Archives: best practices

Analyst Desktop Binder – Interesting view of Social Media Exploitation

7 Jun

This is getting re-posted given the noise about the NSA collecting personal data


Interesting reading – especially if you have done work in the fusion centers

Much noise was made of the words that are searched within media – This is a pretty long list and what it says to me is that there must be a significant amount human intervention and I would think an awful lot of “noise”.

Hard to believe that this is that effective without knowing more about underlying capabilities, but my guess is that this is only a step above Googling those terms!

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The Making of an Intelligence-Driven Organization

6 Jun

Interesting presentation – but really liked the Prezi – if you have not seen one of these have a look

The discussions/handout covered many points including:

  • As a discipline, intelligence seeks to remain an independent, objective advisor to the decision maker.
  • The realm of intelligence is that judgment and probability, but not prescription.
  • The Intelligence product does NOT tell the decision maker what to do, but rather, identifies the factors at play, and how various actions may affect outcomes.
  • Intelligence analysts must actively review the accuracy of their mind-sets by applying structured analytic techniques coupled with divergent thinking
  • Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses inferences/conclusions
  • Networking, coordinating, cooperating, collaboration, and multi-sector collaboration accomplish different goals and require different levels of human resources, trust, skills, time, and financial resources – but worth it to ensure coverage of issues.
  • Counterintelligence and Security to protect your own position
  • and more….

I liked the stages of Intelligence Driven Organizations in the Prezi.

Agile development – a good idea so often badly implemented!

20 May

I am reposting this, as I stand by my original assertion – that Agile requires real leadership skills.

I had a good giggle reading these two articles, here and here, and then finding this one referencing Flaccid Scrum  – by Martin Fowler.


The other day I got something from Carahsoft about a seminar on agile development. The Federal government has been pushing this for some time, so it is curious as to why Carahsoft decided to have a seminar. Regardless this happens to coincide with a number of other discussions regarding Agile approaches. It is interesting that there is still significant debate about what agile is and what it means for projects.

I have the following observations and comments that might help shape the debate (should you find yourself in one):

1. It is an approach not a religion! So many people get really wrapped into a particular approach and then feel the need to make sure that everyone follows that particular approach to the letter of the law. I have rarely seen a successful agile implementation work that was not in one form or another morphed to accommodate the particular needs of a project or the organization where it was being implemented. If we think of Agile as an management approach or framework, and less as a prescriptive remedy for development challenges, we are better off. We can be flexible and focus on outcomes and less on the “rules” that a particular methodology espouses. This article is a little old, but it lays things out well, and is a recommended read.

2. Agile can leave you vulnerable – it requires confidence and leadership! At some point, one has to accept that one adopts adaptive (same as Agile) approaches because the specific requirements are unknown. One has to have the confidence to say that “we do not know”, and the leadership to convince people that by following a disciplined agile approach, we will reveal the true requirements. This business of not knowing is very unsettling for people. This is especially true of the government space where there is a whole cadre of “business analysts” who exist to specify requirements so the government can contract to have things built. Over time, the role of these business analysts will need to change. This article again by Martin Fowler talks to some of the criticism of Agile approaches not having documentation and appropriate controls.

Lastly it is worth pointing out that adoption of Agile approaches often requires a cultural change for an organization. There are three ways that change can occur: from the top; bottom up – organically at the grass roots level; or externally imposed. In the government space this last one is more common perhaps than in the commercial space. Regardless of how change occurs, it always requires leadership to create the right environment for change. At the end of the day, this is often the largest hurdle.

The agile manifesto has key tenets of Agile approaches

Back to basics

11 Feb

As an Analytics professional, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted by the constant search for silver bullets (by others). And I’m even more exhausted of the notion upheld by every non-Analytics person around me that what I provide might as well come in the form of pixie dust. Product companies love to create this mystique around Analytics; making it look as difficult, magical, and opaque as possible. That helps them sell their software. However, they have all been so successful at this approach that it has made my job eternally harder. By convincing potential buyers that what they have to offer is magic, silver bullets in a black box, the software companies raise buyer expectations to unreasonably high levels. Purchasers of that software are also my clients; and they are often astounded that I can’t unbox these magical silver bullets and begin firing away like a gun slinger in an old western. As cool as that sounds, it just isn’t realistic. So, what is realistic? Well, to best answer that question, let’s start at the beginning…

As I see it, Analytics is fairly simple. It is the rigorous application of statistics, mathematics, common sense, and technology to arrive at valuable outcomes for clients. Hard work is rewarded with more hard work, and there are no short cuts! Period. And it all starts with data. Without data, you are merely performing an academic exercise, which can only be rigorously validated by…. Collecting data! Thus, Analytics in all its forms truly revolves around data. So, before one even bothers to read a pamphlet on the latest whizzy thing in the market, there are some basic questions to be answered.

1) What questions do you want to answer?
2) What data do you have to answer those questions?
3) Where are the data gaps, and what are your options for filling them?

Answering these questions can sometimes take longer than one might expect as there is real work to be done at each step–often Analytics professionals help organizations work through these steps. However, it is only after these questions have been effectively answered that an organization has the information necessary to make sound decisions regarding Analytics (e.g., Choosing the right software, etc.). And that is when the hard work begins.

Analytics professionals begin the task of understanding data through exploratory analysis and experimentation. Part of this work includes cleaning and preparing the data for analysis. Based on the results of this process, predictive models can be developed, improved, and automated. Whether the goal is to predict the next word in a sentence, risk of default on a loan, the next location of a crime, or the likelihood of fraudulent activity; the same general process still applies. No bullets, wands or pixie dust… Just blood, sweat, and … coffee. Lots of coffee.

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