OPSEC, Economic Espionage, and Competitive Intelligence — Connecting the dots

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OPSEC, Economic Espionage, and Competitive Intelligence — Connecting the dots

We recently attended a dinner party where people were discussing intelligence failures. While there was some discussion of business intelligence, much of it, of course, revolved around government failures to “connect the dots.” Since the issues of intelligence gathering and analysis are largely the same independent of the venue, it seemed to us that this would be an appropriate time to discuss the issue of connecting the dots.

On the surface, connecting the dots seems straightforward, as anyone with a young child knows. You look at a series of events, recognize their relationship, and see where they are going. As an example, look at the following four dots, each dot representing a piece of information coming into your CI team from different sources, and decide what pattern is being formed.

A          B

.            .

.            .

C         D

For most of us, we obviously recognize that a rectangle can be formed.

OK, now that we are skilled analysts, let’s try it without the letters identifying the sources from which the raw data comes.

.            .

.            .

Again, for most of us, we see that we can form a rectangle.

Now let’s look at the way it would actually be seen as part of a stream of raw data, and decide what is being formed.

Data from source A: ………………………………………………………………………………

Data from source B: ………………………………………………………………………………

Data from source C: ………………………………………………………………………………

Data from source D: ………………………………………………………………………………

OK, now let’s look at the aggregate data, without identification of source.

……………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………..

If you were able to pick out our rectangle here, we are sorry you are not working for us, or, less selfishly, that you are not working either as an analyst for the government or on the Psychic Friends Network!

If you were not able to pick out the rectangle, then shame on you, and expect to have the press – and people at dinner parties – raking you over the coals for your ineptness.

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