Gaining Audience Trust When Presenting Controversial Findings

The findings of intelligence assessments are occasionally controversial. This includes products released only for internal consumption, as well as those rare assessments that are disseminated to the broader public. Ideally, the paper is written apolitically, using dispassionate language, and with enough unequivocal support that even a contentious message is given due consideration. Yet, even reportsContinue reading “Gaining Audience Trust When Presenting Controversial Findings”

The Analytical Statement: “What/So What?”

Intelligence analysis is the interpretation of facts. Analysts examine a scenario or data set, put the facts into context, add perspective, and explain to a decision maker why it all matters. The written format of an analytical statement is sometimes described as the “what/so what?” The “what” is the fact; the “so what” is itsContinue reading “The Analytical Statement: “What/So What?””

A Strong Title Delivers Your Bottom Line

The title of an intelligence product is a shortened version of the thesis; it delivers the product’s bottom line. A title should contain as much of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the thesis statement as possible while still being concise. Titles are written in the form of an incomplete sentence. TheyContinue reading “A Strong Title Delivers Your Bottom Line”

The Inverted Pyramid

Formal intelligence products follow the same basic format, an inverted pyramid. Agencies have their own templates—sometimes multiple templates to fit different types of intelligence products—but all place the most important information at the top, followed by supportive analysis and facts. The overall presentation is sometimes referred to as the “bottom line up front,” or BLUF.Continue reading “The Inverted Pyramid”

Assessing The Assessment: “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat In 2021”

Note: This post is based exclusively on the material released to the public and available on the DHS Web site. I have not seen the full assessment, which would include supporting facts. Nevertheless, an executive summary is a condensed version of a full report and should offer readers enough information on which to base aContinue reading “Assessing The Assessment: “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat In 2021””