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Old 11-25-2010, 08:57 AM   #1
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Real Men Don't Type

Great lecture by Amy Zegart, professor and author. Around 7 minutes in the video, she talks about the culture at the FBI and how it was percieved that "real men don't type" or use computers. All they really need is a notebook, pen, and a gun to do their job.

To me, this summarizes our challenge this last decade in the intelligence community (not just the FBI). It's such a striking difference to my own culture, and I think yours. Things are changing, yes, it's such a large ship to turn. Thoughts?

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Old 11-25-2010, 09:24 AM   #2
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All I need is a gun and a pack of sandwiches to do my job, so I guess I'm one up on the spooks.
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Old 11-25-2010, 10:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadelynIris View Post
Things are changing, yes, it's such a large ship to turn. Thoughts?
Except the message of the lecture is that things aren't changing, intelligence reform is culturally and systemically stunted. The ability to prevent another 9/11 scale attack isn't any better than it was before 9/11.

Thank you for posting this though. It was especially interesting for me to watch as around 18-19 minutes in she talks about the similarities of culture dynamics and the inability to adapt of private organizations which is something I've seen up close and worked to change (often successfully in minor ways) my whole working life.
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Old 11-25-2010, 10:11 AM   #4
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Haha!

The overlay of the cold war culture still impeeds intelligence reform activities today. The challenge of the cold war was to collect intelligence. The challenge of our recent endeavors is making sense of too much information. In Amy Zegart's lecture on intelligence reform, she makes a point about FBI culture that struck me as the heart of the problem. She said "at the FBI, there is unsaid assumption that "real men don't type", and that any good FBI agent "only needs a pen, notepad, and a gun". This culture persists in that intelligence analysts are percieved as second class citizens and treated as "secretaries". Go Mad Men!

I've always thought that the lack of effective information technology implementation withing the DoD or IC community is THE major problem with the entire community. My primary focus of the failures have been with aquisition policy. DoD aquisition policy fails on all accounts. It is lethargic, bureaucratic, and filled with contract specialists that know nothing about information technology. On the rare occassion that an agency successfully implements new technology, is because it was born out of operations, and championed by indivuals invested in its success.

But lately I've been able to form a position on a way ahead. There are 3 key reforms that I think can greatly improve the IC.

1) Instead of using standard "aquisition policy" to "aquire" professional consultancy for the development and implementaion of IT, hire computer scientists and directly leverage them in the analysis and operations tradecrafts. They will still be analysts and operators, only they'll have a different tool set. They are just part of the team, but can leverage the power of IT to make it happen, as opposed to IT oppressing analysts and operators because of all the things you "can't do" or "aren't allowed to do".

2) New sytems are not the trick to information mining and data sharing reform. New personnel are. See item 1. The cold war personnel are not only still focused on Russia, but also focused on their notebooks and guns.

3) Separate IT aquisition policy from Aquisition Policy. The same laws and rules to aquire bullets,
satellites, and toliet paper, should be different than information technology.
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Old 11-25-2010, 10:25 AM   #5
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To what extent does the alphabet soup of the IC use common IT platforms? One of the main barriers to useful intelligence gathering is that the agencies don't (and WON'T) share information. Shared platforms and databases should be a top priority to enable shared access to all available intelligence data.

And I couldn't agree more about the undervalued status of analysts being a major problem.
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