A bit more on personality types and intelligence analysis

Yesterday, while writing about a survey I took of intelligence analysts about their Myers-Briggs personality types, Simon left the following comment.

I think that you are on to something here but a potential weakness in your argument so far is that you have not made any qualitative assessment of your respondees. I’m assuming that you have selected your respondees form the upper echelon of intel analysis ability but, noting previous posts on the inability of make intel-related agencies and staff, you could in fact be reinforcing the negative status quo unless you qualify your respondees in some way.

I was going to answer in the comments section but this really deserves its own post.  So, a brief discussion about the respondents without giving out their identities.

All respondents came from an initial pool of around 300 persons involved in several iterations of a 16 week intelligence course in which I was an instructor.  They came from local, state and federal agencies and were primarily involved in law enforcement and homeland security intelligence.  Off the top of my head I’d say it was a 60-40 split between analysts and sworn personnel (mostly analysts). Not all were my students but many were.

Based on the length and difficulty of the course (which I reviewed in its pilot stages as a student here) I’d say these are among the most motivated of their cohort (this was a lot of work if you were just out to get another certificate and there weren’t many opportunities to slack off and mooch off the work of others).

Even though I taught these people, I’m loath to make an assessment of their analytic quality.  I’m very confident to say they had a great deal of raw talent.  That was evident not only from their work in the class but also from conversations with many of them after class.  There was a great deal of discussion about how their individual agencies were inhibiting them analytically.

When the course was finished I created a survey asking the students a number of questions about what they’d like to see out of the profession as well as what they’d be willing to contribute to build a viable analyst community independent of the agency they were currently employed at.  Roughly 100 persons responded and it was this list (who indicated that they were interested in occasional future contact and communication) who were solicited to take part in this survey.

So, I’d consider this the most motivated of the motivated in terms of analysts and sworn law enforcement oriented towards intelligence.

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