Assessing the Value of Intelligence: Lessons for Leaders
Applying power in all its forms to secure the present and future is ultimately a leadership challenge. That challenge is especially complex in the current century when the forms and patterns of security are changing in so many ways at an accelerated pace than ever before. The capabilities required to threaten a nation, region, or even global stability are available to both rich and impoverished nation states, as well as small networks of people who can and do operate relatively independent of any nation state. There is more data available than ever before to make sense of this era. However, leaders are in great need of capabilities that turn this data into knowledge that informs their discernment of the security strategies required in these dynamic and uncertain times.
To assist leaders with this challenge, the Center has embarked on a series of research activities focused on security, power, and leadership in a new century. This series includes radio interviews, articles, and special reports (For the first article in this series and links to the radio interviews, see: http://www.businessofgovernment.org/article/power-security-and-leadership-21st-century.)
The following special report contributes to this series in two unique ways. First, it addresses lessons that leaders can apply to the management of intelligence capabilities. Much is often said, and rightly so, about the need for capabilities to turn data into knowledge or intelligence. The capabilities required to manage the intelligence enterprise receives far less attention. This special report provides five practical lessons that senior leaders can apply to assess the value of intelligence, thus managing both the operational and fiscal resources required to create intelligence.
Second, a large body of classified assessments of the value of intelligence is the basis for these lessons. As the reader will notice in the report, a number of national security leaders have commended these assessments. Thus, the lessons are grounded in a rich empirical, rather than conceptual, basis.
Leaders face difficult choices every day in allocating scarce intelligence resources to a complex array of global threats. Additionally, leaders must make wise investments of constrained fiscal resources to produce the intelligence capabilities required in an uncertain future. We believe leaders must demand that data and proven analytical methods inform these choices. The lessons in this report - perhaps the first of its kind - should help leaders establish a culture wherein data-driven assessments of intelligence value are the institutional norm. In doing so, they will improve the value of intelligence to power and security.