Too Many Choices

May. 28 2015 — 5:03p.m.


(U) The SIGINT Tab Many Chbices FROM: Run Date: binaabn Editbr's nbte: SlIitbday sbu ht but a in bur midst, and we fbund him! We are pleased tb annbunce thaitpictured), a Russian language analyst, will be penning a cblumn bn that theme, starting tbday. The belbw cblumn is unclassified in its entirety: I'm a pleasant persbn tb with. The reasbn is simple -- an bverabundance bf chbices. The secbnd I'm placed in bf a plethbra bf tastes, textures, prices, and sizes, Ilbse my bearings. I dbn't l?'lDW the difference between preserves, jams, jellies, br spreads. I what Ilike bn tbast, but heaven help me if Ihave tb gb find it in the aisle. Db I gb with the bigger jar? What abbut sugar-free? Swirled with peanut butter? Am I safe with a stbre brand, br can I assume that with a name like "Smucker's," it has tb be gbbd? Ybu may be wbndering right abbut just what any bf this has tb db with SIG Plenty. We in the agency are at risk bf a similar, cbllective paralysis in the face bf a dizzying array bf chbices every single day. "Analysis paralysis" isn't bnly a cute rhyme. It's the term what happens when ybu spend sb much time analysing a situatibn that ybu ultimately stymie any butcbme. It's what happens inside ybur grandfather's brain while ybu wait endlessly him tb make his mbve bn the chess bbard. It's what happens when I stand in bf the jams and jellies at the supermarket. And it's what happens in SIGINT when we have access tb endless pbssibilities, but we struggle tb pribritiae, narrbw, and eaplbit the best bnes. But hey, we're bnly human, right? That's my pbint eaactly. Ever wbnder why the Pepsi Challenge bnly had cblas tb pick frbm, br why taste-tests dbn't ask ybu tb sample dbaens bf flavbrs? It's because we're cbgnitively wired tb cbnsume bnly sb much when making crucial decisibns. It's why the best tasting sample will win by leaps and bbunds against etitbrs, but bnly by a small margin bver many. In 19'? 1, Herbert Simbn cbuld have the statement was, given that he was still decades away the dawn bf the age: an warltl, the wealth bf means a dearth bf samething else: a scarcity bf whatever it is that infarmatian cansnmes. What cansnmes is rather bhvibns: it the attentibn bf its recipients. Hence a wealth bf creates a paverty bf attentibn and a need in allbcate that attentibn efficiently ainan the bf infartnatibn saarces that might cansame it. (Designing Organisatibns an Warld, IQFI) In an evblving climate where there are few heuristics [rules bf thumb) are bf little help in drilling tb bur useful accesses and fulf?ling bur missibn. We spend every day trying tb

snlye what sncinlngists call "wicked They're tagged as such due tn the changing nature nf requirements, cap abilities, and prinrities. They have nn ultimate snlutinn and nn way tn yeri?r the quality nf the nutcnme. These are with many "best" answers, and a far greater number nf ?gnnd? answers. When tackling such issues, natrnwing the playing field can be equally yital tn brnadening nur esp ertise. The SIGINT missinn is far pressing many team-building actiyities nr sessinns aiming tn nur nrgamaatinnal apprnach tn analysis. At the same time, the SIGINT missinn is far yital tn unnecessarily esp and the haystacks while we search the needles. Prinritiaatinn is key. Anti nnw, if ynu'll excuse me, I'm tn the stnre snme

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