Stratfor on Analyst Training

Actually a good post.

Some random thoughts about training
Email-ID 1697484
Date 1970-01-01 01:00:00
From marko.papic@stratfor.com
To rodger.baker@stratfor.com
Hi Rodger,

Here are some thoughts on training… just random musing that you said you
wanted to download from me. These come from my experience both as an
intern, junior analyst, analyst and as intern coordiator.

First, I really think it is absolutely crucial that when it comes to
training, we have senior analyst VERY visibly in charge of the process.
Sure the administrative work of running the intern program is something
the junior staff can do, but for training to be successful, there has to
be sufficient authority behind it.

Some thoughts on STRATFOR culture:

1. First on this list is that I think we need to make it clear that saying
“I don’t know… I need to find out” is perfectly fine. This is not clear
to interns. Discussions on the analyst list and in person often devolve
into analysts doing intellectual gymnastics to prove they have an opinion
or knowledge on everything going on. This is not productive as it is
simply impossible to know everything. I have honestly heard analyst say “I
don’t know” maybe 5 times in my 2.5 years here. This seeps into interns
who then think they need to pretend to know everything to get hired. Not
good.

2. We can be very mean/aggressive/bitchy at each othe when discussing
work, especially when we feel we are stepping into each other’s AORs
(which is funny, since G says this is the main downfall of the CIA). This
has a different effect on different people. For example, it makes some
recruits think they can act the same way (think Aaron Moore). Second,
there is this FANTASY (note: F A N T A S Y) that STRATFOR is a place where
young, brilliant, ambitious people get together, rip each other apart, and
then come up with an idea/analysis that is the sum of the parts. In
reality, STRATFOR is divided between those who can yell and those who are
yelled at. This is VERY clear to everyone on the junior staff. What
happens is two things: a) junior analysts/interns/recruits decide to fight
back and incur the wrath of senior staff and labeled as
inflexible/un-trainable or b) junior analysts/interns/recruits decide that
it is much easier to not fight back and become “yes men”. Neither is what
we want. We need to make it clear that at some point discussion STOPS. We
are a BUSINESS. We do not have the luxury of academia or government to
endlessly bullshit. BUT, this does not mean that we need to do it in an
aggressive manner. And besides, if one needs to raise their voice to
exercise authority, then they have already lost it (isn’t that like a
Confucius quote or something?)

3. Analysts have to be more relaxed on being challenged. I think it may be
good to start building some sort of a routinized criticism sessions, if
for nothing else than to develop a culture of being able to take
criticism. We are not going to be able to criticize ourselves (truly) if
we don’t accept criticism from others. So maybe some sort of a Maoist
session where one analyst’s analysis is destroyed could be a good
exercise. I don’t know…

4. I think we are getting sloppy and we are starting to lose our drive to
research things in depth. We are simply covering too much with too few
people and our daily output, considering staffing, is making it impossible
to be more thorough. How do we fix this? We talked about this… I don’t
know. But we are NOT doing a good job balancing daily “for today” with
long term work.

Here’s an idea to resolve this problem. One of the qualities that ALL of
our analysts should have (even regional) is situational awareness of the
entire globe. That means that it would do good for Kamran, Matt or shit
even YOU to write an analysis on Zimbabwe. Plus its kind of fun. PLUS, it
gets different analysts working with different analysts (so for example
instead of you working with me on ONE analysis in 2.5 years, you get to
see my work on more opportunities).

So think if Mark had to tell you what he wanted written for today’s Zimb
piece and what he wanted researched. Or if he told me. Or if I told Mark
what I wanted for a Romania analysis. Now you have different analysts
helping out on for today tasks on different AORs. Makes them much more
involved… They start making connections on how different AORs operate,
unearthing patterns that could help them in forecasting their own AOR

Why am I suggesting this?

Because maybe we can assign “long-term project” days. So an analyst would
work intensely on FOR TODAY for 3 or 4 days of the week and the other 1-2
days he/she would be either working on monographs or doing that
“INTELLIGENCE” work you were telling me about this afternoon… you know,
when you can actually mull about long-term changes and trends and pour
over data to unearth anomalies. If I can just walk Mark or Karen through
the Romania analysis in the am, and then “red team” it by making sure it
is up to my liking, I can concentrate the rest of the day on long term
stuff and not worry about putting out fires. And then next day I help
Karen or Mark with their AOR, giving THEM time to do long term and
expanding my horizons.

Ok, I just bored you to death.

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3 Responses to Stratfor on Analyst Training

  1. shulquist says:

    Re: A thought on open source practice
    Email-ID 5091635
    Date 2009-03-31 05:50:37
    From friedman@att.blackberry.net
    To analysts@stratfor.com
    List-Name analysts@stratfor.com
    Well put.

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    ————————————————————————–

    From: Brian Genchur
    Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 22:44:22 -0500
    To: Analyst List
    Subject: Re: A thought on open source practice

    I’d add another example to George’s point. The reason media come to us
    for information and analysis is because we are, by definition, not open
    source. If we named all of our sources the same way the NYT does, then
    they would likely go to the ‘primary source’ of the information (where we
    collected it) rather than us. The NYT wouldn’t analyze it as well, but
    that’s another point.

    STRATFOR analysts BECOME sources for news outlets by using intelligence
    and analytical methods as opposed to purely news gathering techniques.
    Journalists collect information and write down what others say. You guys
    use your brains to analyze the information after collection, and then you
    say what that all means in context – something I think is far more
    valuable and interesting. You then use history, analysis, whatever other
    magic you guys do… to forecast. By doing so, you add so much value to
    the information (open source or otherwise) that you become the NOT open
    source that you are – or more precisely – that STRATFOR is not.

    A journalist is taught to be a “public watchdog”. The 4th Estate. Expose
    the information and let the public decide what it means (though with
    commentators, entertainers and columnists these days, the line is
    blurring). I’m pretty sure that “public watchdog” wouldn’t be the first
    way you’d describe yourself when it comes to what you do. Though, I may
    be wrong. A “public watchdog”‘s role is to MAKE information open source.

    George Friedman wrote:

    And that is the weakness of the government vision and why I never use the term open source in relation to us. When you talk to me1 or jen talks to china or the ct team spins up a source it is a degree of secret material. It is stone secret. The idea that clandestine collection is a government specialty has never worked with shell oil. The government confuses the dissemination of information with the collection of information. We are not at all like the nyt because their reporters always identify themselves as such. We may or may not as it suits us. This is the fundamental difference between journalism and intelligence. The source may never know he was a source, which is the definition of clandestine. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T —–Original Message—– From: Reva Bhalla Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 21:52:42 To: ; Analyst List Subject: Re: A thought on open source practice that’s true, the way the govt defines open sources is: Any and all information that can be derived from overt collection: all types of media, government reports, scientific research, Internet, commercial vendors of info, etc. The main qualifies to open source information are that it does not require any type of clandestine collection techniques to obtain it. for the USG, it doesn’t require clandestine collection to obtain what Strat writes. But STrat product does require some level of secret sourcing. So by this definition, Stratfor isn’t any definition than a NYT reporter with a source. On Mar 30, 2009, at 9:47 PM, George Friedman wrote:

    I agree except that I don’t regard us as open source. We publish much of what we know but our souring includes what will be a growing amount of non open source material. So I’m rejecting the government definition of open source. We publush our findings but our sources are far from open. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T —–Original Message—– From: Reva Bhalla Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 21:41:34 To: ; Analyst List Subject: Re: A thought on open source practice agree, and those all good points, but the industry is also slowly transforming to greater appreciate open source intelligence, like Stratfor. With technological advancements, information is everywhere. Some of it highly misleading written on blogs by the crazy Kazakhs and Ukrainians who write to us. Others, like Strat and other valuable databases of information, are accessed regularly by top policymakers, creating a crisis for many within the covert source realm. in reality, both can’t survive without each other. there is a strong case for both open source and covert sources, but there will always be that so- called elitism in the classified world. regardless, as an open source institution, there is a good niche for us in this market and we should all take pride in the different ways we build up our reputation, whether through the open source material we collect and disseminate, through the intel we collect through our own sources, through the analysis we piece together, through the PR efforts to get our name out there, etc. On Mar 30, 2009, at 9:32 PM, George Friedman wrote:

    In order for this to be understood we must distinguish the proper use of open source from the governments use. For usg, open source is anything not classified. The most secret source used by stratfor is still open source in their mind. Open source should be defined as published and publicly accessible sources. Covert sources are unpublished sources. What needs to be added to this mix is common gossip. This is a form of intelligence that sometimes contains value but too frequently is simply idle chatter. Too much of what is called intelligence is idle chatter by people who don’t really know anything. This is the trap. So nyes point on published material is valid. Most of what is true is widely known and published. But his definition of covert intelligence is insufficient. The assumption that classified information is superior to covert intelligence gathered by others is the conceit of the intelligence community and leads them into constant error. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T —–Original Message—– From: Reva Bhalla Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 21:17:18 To: Analyst List Subject: A thought on open source practice Joseph Nye, during his tenure at the NIC, said: “open source intelligence is the outer pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, without which one can neither begin nor complete the puzzle” if you think about our daily work, we rely heavily on open source to fill out the frame of our analysis, and fill in the real picture with critical pieces of intel. After much time and labor, we can finally complete the picture, and that should be the ultimate satisfaction of the analyst and the collector. just a thought..

  2. shulquist says:

    Labor Day Review of Where We Are
    Email-ID 49613
    Date 2011-09-05 21:55:16
    From gfriedman@stratfor.com
    To allstratfor@stratfor.com
    List-Name stratforaustin@stratfor.com
    THIS IS FOR INTERNAL STRATFOR USE ONLY. DO NOT SHARE THIS DOCUMENT OR
    DISCUSS IT OUTSIDE OF STRATFOR.

    I hope you’ve all had a great Labor Day Weekend. This Labor Day marks a
    turning point in Stratfor’s history, and I wanted to share my thoughts
    with you and some plans. It used to be, not so long ago, that we were so
    small that information flowed to all hands by itself. It is hard for me
    to recognize sometimes that this is no longer true, so I will provide an
    extensive review of where we are and what is coming. Some of this will be
    old hat to some of you; some of this will be new. This is an attempt to
    start getting everyone on the same page.

    Historically, Stratfor was unique in a number of ways. First, we accepted
    no advertising. Second, we charged for our subscriptions. Finally, we were
    revenue driven. We build the company from our revenues. This kept us
    independent, it kept us free to experiment-and at times fail, it kept us
    tight. We were reaching a point where we our revenues did not keep up with
    our needs and market opportunities.

    Shea Morenz provided us with two opportunities. First, he made an
    investment in Stratfor designed to give us the capital needed to build our
    staff and our marketing. Second, he proposed a new venture, StratCap,
    which would allow us to utilize the intelligence we were gathering about
    the world in a new but related venue-an investment fund. Where we had
    previously advised other hedge funds. We would now have our own, itself
    fully funded by Shea. Shea invested over $2 million in Stratfor and more
    in StratCap. In return he took a seat on Stratfor’s board and a minority
    position in Stratfor, whose control remains in Don’s and my hands. It was
    a good deal for Stratfor, a good deal for StratCap, and since the deal
    closed officially on August 1, we now have the task of doing what we all
    want-building Stratfor and StratCap.

    Our cash position is not spectacular by any means, but we have the
    resources to build the kind of company we want, when that investment is
    combined with our revenues. With cash under control we need to address
    the next problem-people. We all are doing more than our share to keep
    things going. In some ways that good but it can be overdone, and we are
    overdoing it throughout the company. Our job now is to expand the team.
    Money is one element of that, but relieving the pressure we are under in a
    way increases the pressure, because we have to recruit and train new
    people. So it gets harder before it gets easier, and that’s the point we
    are at.

    Let’s divide our departments into two groups. There are those departments
    that must train their own people, particularly in intelligence beyond the
    normal training needed by new employees. We do that because no one thinks
    of the world like Stratfor, and that means that we can’t hire people from
    other organizations, or at least not without a major training programming,
    which in our experience lasts up to two years. Then there are departments
    that don’t have this burden and that can hire people readily from other
    organizations. Both groups of departments must grow and train, but the
    burden of training is much heavier in the Intelligence departments that
    train their staff from the bottom up than on other departments. It is
    important for everyone to understand this distinction. It is not that
    people in Intelligence are more important or more valuable than those in
    other departments. It just means they face different problems in growing
    and that if they don’t grow, other things can’t happen.

    Now let’s consider the tasks ahead. First and foremost-and always first
    and foremost-we must be the world’s leading private intelligence
    organization (and one of the finest intelligence organizations, period)
    and we must sell our intelligence through publishing. Our current staff
    has done an outstanding job, but they are thin and sometimes we are weak.
    We must do better in economics, and we must make certain that no AOR
    depends on only one person. There are lots of things that are needed.

    Second, we are committed to supporting StratCap, a private fund that will
    begin operations some time this coming spring. What StratCap will do is
    use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of
    geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currency and the
    like in the world’s emerging markets. Shea Morenz initiated this idea and
    leads it. At the root of StratCap is a simple idea: Stratfor should put
    its money where its mouth is. It does not conflict with Stratfor, but is
    an extension of it.

    Do not think of StratCap as an outside organization. It will be integral
    to Stratfor, in the sense that much of the intelligence we are developing
    is useful to Stratcap as well as Stratfor. The organizational and legal
    distinctions are real and important, but StratCap is linked to Stratfor
    intellectually and contractually. It will be useful to you if, for the
    sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and
    Shea as another executive in Stratfor.

    Let me also add that it is our commitment that all our team will benefit
    if StratCap is successful through some mechanism to be defined. This isn’t
    an attempt to get you to work harder for the same money. But that
    discussion must wait until the legal and administrative relationships of
    StratCap and its relation to Stratfor are worked out and reviewed by
    something called “compliance officers,” people who make certain that we do
    not violate any regulations.

    From that point of view, StratCap is something under construction. You
    can see Shea Morenz hammering away building it in the corner office he
    took from Darryl. In the world of StratCap, corner offices are marketing
    tools. This points to the fact that StratCap will be building its own
    staff and they come from a different world from Stratfor with a different
    culture. That said, we have a great deal to learn from StratCap to
    strengthen Stratfor’s understanding of economics and it has much to learn
    from us. We are already working on mock portfolios and trades, testing
    our skills. Kendra, Korena, Melissa, Jen, Peter, Meredith and myself are
    all involved in this along with Shea and Alfredo, a trader that makes us
    easy to understand compared to him. It’s going pretty well in fact, but
    supporting StratCap will be a cultural and intellectual challenge. It’s
    important now to recognize that it is already here, growing and we will
    accommodate to it and it to us.

    I want to emphasize is that there is neither a legal, intellectual nor
    moral tension between Stratfor and StratCap. We will continue to publish
    what we think is true. StratCap is interested in our broad ideas but
    mostly in the obscure nuggets picked up by intelligence that are usually
    of little interest to our general readers. My pledge to you and our
    readers is that our publication will remain untouched by StratCap-because
    they are merely different sides of the same coin, intelligence.

    We have also been asked to help the United States Marine Corps and other
    government intelligence organizations to teach them how Stratfor does what
    it does, and train them in becoming government Stratfors. We are beginning
    this project by preparing a three-year forecast for the Commandant of the
    Corps. This is a double honor for us. First, the professional
    intelligence community is acknowledging us as being the gold standard of
    intelligence. Second, we are being asked to use our honest and unhedged
    views to support what is for Stratfor-an American company-its homeland.
    Again, as with StratCap, there is no tension. We will tell the U.S.
    government precisely what we tell our readers and we think ourselves. Our
    first lesson to the government is that intelligence organizations exist to
    make decision makers uncomfortable, not to make them feel better about
    their decisions. I didn’t come this far to compromise on that.

    Add to this that the fact that Turkish Chamber of Commerce (not its name
    but close enough; its name is TUSIAD) asked us to preside over their 40th
    anniversary celebration, and that the Turkish Foreign Minister and Energy
    Minister will speak at the event, and you can see both our global
    recognition and our commitment to speak the same words to every country.
    We can serve the world from the same platform.

    So think about it. We have three triumphs. First, our publication is now
    read by almost 300,000 people (counting our corporate accounts). We are a
    major force around the world. Second, Shea-a guy who has played with the
    big boys at Goldman Sachs, asked us to play in the majors with him.
    Third, the USMC has asked for our help, and with them others in the
    defense community. These are three validations of us that are precious to
    me.

    Obviously, there is no way in the world that we can do all these
    things-plus the endless little projects that we must do all the time-with
    the staff we have. And given that we take two years to train new
    analysts, and all of this is on us now-we have an urgent problem. We
    can’t punt opportunities at hand and continue at our current size. Nor can
    we easily expand. So we will therefore expand with difficulty. There is
    no choice. Our Analyst Development Program is the means where we train
    people and find new analysts as well as find some staff for publishing
    (watch officers, monitors, operations center and writers all under Jenna
    Colley). We will have the largest group of ADPs ever this fall, starting
    next week. About 13 people at last count will be joining us. This is a
    huge percentage of the number of analysts on staff. Ideally all will work
    out well and our crisis will be over. That’s unlikely but our crisis will
    be mitigated by January 1. Doing this will put a huge burden on
    Intelligence, who must do their work and also train these people, but
    there is no choice. This is the year when we break out. I promise to
    work side by side with the team in training and growing he organization.
    I also promise that if we succeed, we will become one of the most
    significant and prestigious foreign policy publications in the world-and
    those that made it happen will be known. I know there are questions about
    by-lines. You know my hesitation, but we will figure out together someway
    to make sure that the glory is shared.

    Intelligence is divided into three parts. There is Strategic Intelligence
    (under Rodger assisted by Reva) that is organized geographically. There
    is Tactical Intelligence (under Stick, assisted by Nate Hughes) that is
    organized thematically-organized crime, cyber-warfare, military,
    terrorism, security, financial flows, supply chain and so on. There is
    then intelligence gathering, under Meredith, assisted by Jen Richmond that
    is building sources from around the world. All of them must grow
    dramatically. The first two will grow mostly out of the ADP pool. The
    latter will be done by extensive work in the field. But it is the Writers
    Group that is making the most impressive evolution. Under Jenna (and Tim
    French and Maverick) it has moved into the heart of intelligence, writing
    as well as editing. Everyone should watch this team. They are pioneering
    things the world hasn’t seen yet. Along with Watch Officers, monitors and
    the operations center, this unit is translating intelligence into product
    with increasing effectiveness. It is now organizationally mature and
    ready to both grow and sustain the growth of Intelligence.

    This growth will put a tremendous strain on other departments. Leticia has
    done a tremendous job in Human Resources, but the job has grown much
    greater than she can possibly manage. Just the process of getting visas
    for new ADPs is overwhelming, and at least half of these come from other
    countries. We have selected an HR consulting firm to support her in the
    coming months and other solutions will be found to sustain this. HR will
    become more effective in the next months. In addition, we are retaining a
    law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on Foreign Corrupt Practices
    Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing
    it either. We need some clear guidelines on the law and are getting them,
    particularly as we ramp our intelligence capability. Similarly finance has
    kept us all going and similarly it has to expand, although it is a shade
    less pressured than HR is.

    IT faces a huge challenge. Traditional IT organizations focus on the
    development of new capabilities for a company and sustaining complex
    systems. At Stratfor, the focus must also be on sustaining basic systems
    like phones, email, configuring and fixing laptops and cell phones and so
    on-the basic tools that make our work possible and which are a particular
    challenge in a global company operating 24-7. That gives our IT
    department a different shape and tempo than exists in other companies.
    With this class of ADPs, 24-7 will become very real. IT is under pressure
    to maintain its focus on improving the web site and corporate systems but
    has a special and intense mission of supporting a growing, global company
    at the ground level, and the pressure is never going to be greater than
    now with all the new people coming on board in all departments. Creating
    an IT department that fits our peculiar needs will be Frank’s challenge.

    I want to also point to two departments that are performing extremely
    well. Customer Service at Stratfor is among the best in the business. We
    daily get emails praising their work. John Gibbons has done an amazing job
    keeping this going. More subscribers mean more customer service of
    course.

    Also to be mentioned is he on-line marketing team who has just done
    something very impressive. There is usually a slump in subscriptions after
    a Red Alert, and there was one, but in a matter of weeks they pitched in
    and turned it around with some strange and wonderful campaigns. They have
    broken their forecast in spite of a pretty quiet world. Its amazing the
    kind of ads that work!

    Let’s turn to marketing and sales and the future. Our readership is now
    about 5 percent of the Economist when we exclude corporate (not sure why
    we exclude corporate but that’s what we do). That means that we have
    probably saturated a good part of the early adopters market-the early
    adopters who love us and have built us-and put up with our weaknesses.
    It’s kind of like people who supported Apple in its dark days, putting up
    with promising but not yet mature computers. If you haven’t read,
    “Crossing the Chasm,” a rare business book that is actually helpful,
    please take a look at it. It will explain much of what we are trying to
    achieve in marketing.

    We have no choice but to grow. If we stay this size someone larger, with
    deep pockets will notice the market we have created and come in after us.
    We won’t be able to compete. The only protection is market share, to be
    so dominant a force in the market that no one challenges us and our own
    deep pockets. For this we must grow revenue and that means readership.
    The place we must grow is in the mainstream. I don’t mean by mainstream
    CNN. I mean readers who are interested in what we have, but aren’t
    fanatics, groupies and wannabes. These people have higher standards in
    production values, and less forgiveness for mistakes. They don’t buy the
    mystique. They buy the publication. That’s where most of our customers
    are and where we have to go.

    Obviously this is one of the reasons we need more people. It is also the
    reason we must deliver in new ways. Grant Perry and his team are looking
    at ways to create a unique, Stratfor video culture. I see this myself as
    consisting of much longer and serious conversations among analysts
    moderated by an anchor, documentaries, briefings. Perhaps our Sitreps
    should all be delivered via video and audio (there is I think huge demand
    for audio products in cars, or so many people tell me). All of this will
    evolve in unexpected directions under Grant, Colin, Brian, Andrew and
    others who will join them. This is part of our own evolution into the
    mainstream, on our own terms, with our own voice. What you see above, by
    the way, are simply my own ideas, not fully thought out. Whatever Grant
    and his team produce will be uniquely Stratfor.

    Other than that we shall see. What markets we will enter, and how we
    enter them is not yet known. We do know that the current Stratfor product,
    however enhanced, will be our only offering. We will not be developing
    new products for markets.

    We have hired a consultant, Mark Stacey, who will guide this process. We
    will also be bringing in a consulting firm to do survey research and
    interviews to teach us more about our current readers, readers who won’t
    buy us, and readers who would buy us if they had heard of us. Our choice
    was between hiring staff to give us a plan or hiring consultants to give
    us a plan and then hiring permanent staff to execute it. The latter is
    the safest-we avoid a staff without the skill to do what we need whom
    instead craft a plan to do what they already know. In addition to this
    initiative, we are participating in the University of Texas Business
    School program where a team of graduate students will essentially parallel
    the work of our outside consultants, giving us a double check on the
    data.

    The goal here is to have a marketing and sales plan in place for execution
    on January 1. From where I sit, the biggest challenge we have is that too
    many people have never heard of us. At a meeting I can encounter someone
    who has subscribed for years and next to him is a person in the same
    industry that has never heard of us. It is difficult selling to people
    who have never heard of us. So our challenge-before trying to sell to
    them-is to increase awareness of who we are. This is called branding and
    it’s different from selling. It is the precursor. We will start with
    branding in January. That means there will be marketing people around
    asking many questions in the coming months, frequently the same ones.
    Please work with all of them. In the end, we will have a plan with a high
    likelihood of success.

    Parallel to all of this, the executives (without Don, Steve Feldhaus or
    myself-the board members) are going through a planning process of their
    own, coordinated by Frank Ginac. Not being on it (and not wanting to be
    informed of what is going on as there should be yet another set of eyes on
    things other than mine) I can’t tell you what they are doing. However,
    the deal we have on this is that as CEO, I will proceed with implementing
    my own plans that I’ve outlined here, and will consider their proposals
    when I see them. If the decision point is past when they make their
    recommendation on a subject, the recommendation will not be considered.
    If they come in with recommendations before decision points, their
    recommendations will be taken very seriously. This allows the company to
    move forward and an alternative planning model to be brought on line when
    it is ready.

    The company has become too large and complex for any one person to know
    what is going on. I am moving (with difficulty) from the role of an early
    entrepreneur, knowing everything going on and getting involved in it, to
    the CEO of a company at the inflexion point. The inflexion point is the
    point all companies dream of and few achieve-when they start really taking
    off. This is a great point and a dangerous one. Unless the company
    changes the way it does things, inflexion aborts. I am trying to change
    what I do.

    There are some things that have to remain my responsibility. Building
    Intelligence and publishing and particularly training new staff are things
    that I should oversee. Building the intelligence capabilities of the
    company along with Meredith is also my responsibility. Creating new
    models to support Stratcap and helping to train Stratcap in the
    capabilities of Stratfor is mine. Overseeing our training of the Marine
    Corps is something I want to do. Kendra will be my deputy for this, but
    this leaves a large load on me.

    Along with this, for better or worse, I am the public face of Stratfor.
    My speeches and travels build the brand, create intelligence
    opportunities, and give me a clearer vision of how the world works. I
    will be doing a lot of traveling to do these things, and I will combine
    them with the Geopolitical Journeys concept that seems to have hit a
    nerve. During my travels I will be doing articles, videos and writing a
    book based on those journeys, on the world’s borderlands. Between that
    and making contacts for Stratfor and StratCap, I will be busy.

    Along with that load is going to be setting the broad direction of the
    company. Through long and sometimes painful experience I have learned
    that ultimate responsibility can be delegated but not abandoned. It’s an
    old military principle that applies here. I have a vision for Stratfor and
    while I will delegate, I will not turn over responsibility because I
    can’t.

    That means that we will need an evolving management structure. I’ve asked
    Don who is formally President of Stratfor to join Darryl in both the day
    to day management of the company and in what we still call “the business
    side.” One day we will simply be one company, but right now we are still
    two sides of one company. Don and Darryl will now manage that side,
    implementing our plans there. I will not disappear, but become
    intermittent on daily management but deeply focused on intelligence.

    One of the other things I must do is prepare a succession plan. In some
    parts that are well developed, I already have that plan. In other parts,
    we have to build an organization to have a succession plan. But it is my
    intention that Stratfor survive me (no, I’m not feeling poorly and can
    still kick your ass). I want to build this into the world’s finest
    intelligence service, private and free to speak its mind. I see this as
    the most lasting contribution I can make, and I am serious about making
    sure Stratfor goes on.

    We are all at the inflexion point where the level of effort temporarily
    soars until new resources are brought on line. They couldn’t have been
    staged in earlier because there weren’t resources available. But now they
    can’t wait, because the moment will pass and perhaps never return. For
    everything there is a “now.” This is now.

    I ask only one specific thing of all of you. If you don’t understanding
    anything here; if you want to learn more; if something worries you and
    your boss can’t clear it up, come directly to me. I will be available
    until the last week of September when I go with others to Turkey. Please,
    please, please, do not engage in a round of paranoia or speculation based
    on lack of data. Just set a time to see me and let’s discuss it.
    StratFantasy (a new term) is I really believe the greatest danger to
    success that we have face.

    This is a long review, but many have said they’d like to know where we are
    and what we are doing. This is about as comprehensive as I can get. There
    will be more such reports. There are no short versions about where we are
    and what we are doing.

  3. shulquist says:

    [alpha] source evaluations – must read
    Email-ID 901056
    Date 2011-08-10 04:51:43
    From richmond@stratfor.com
    To watchofficer@stratfor.com, alpha@stratfor.com
    List-Name alpha@stratfor.com
    This is the first in several emails on our sourcing and insight
    collections. To begin with, we will be meeting with everyone who has
    sources to evaluate them on the criteria and scoring below. I will be in
    touch with everyone who has a source list within the next few weeks. If
    you have sources but no source list, then you need to create one. I will
    give details on this in a separate email.

    All of those who need to update or create their list need to do so by
    Monday and send them to both myself and Anya. If you need a source code
    number range, email me and I will get this set up for you so you can start
    the process. For analysts with compiled lists with uncoded sources,
    please code these ASAP unless they are genuinely a one-off and then give
    an explanation.

    In the meantime, it would be best if everyone with sources start to
    evaluate each source by looking at least the past five insights and start
    to score them based on the criteria and scoring below so you are not
    scrambling when we are ready to set up an evaluation with you. Also, from
    here on out, start to think about sources with these criteria and scoring
    in mind. This will be the first of many periodic insight evaluations so
    its best for everyone to get acquainted with this method.

    For Watch Officers, please also start to think along these lines when you
    are reading insight. In the future we will also look to you as objective
    source evaluators. Also, please start to read the insight carefully and
    comment on it the same as you would a piece from OS. As Reva said in our
    meeting today, we are starting to refocus on intel and insight. As Watch
    Officers, you are well placed to comment on any anomalies presented in
    insights and compare it with what is being said in the media.

    If there are any questions or concerns, please ask.

    Jen

    Sourcing Criteria

    The following are the proposed criteria for analyzing both sources and
    insight.

    1. Source Timeliness

    2. Source Accessibility/Position

    3. Source Availability

    4. Insight Credibility

    5. Insight Uniqueness

    Source Timeliness: This is the average grade on how long this particular
    source turns around tasks and replies to inquiries. It may change but is
    more of a static indicator.

    Source Accessibility: Accessibility weighs the source’s position to have
    certain knowledge in a particular field. So, for example, if we are
    looking for energy insight and the source is an official in an energy
    agency, his or her Accessibility would be ranked higher than if s/he was a
    banker giving insight on energy. While we would welcome a banker giving
    his/her insight, a good source may not have a high accessibility ranking
    if they aren’t in a position to offer reliable insight on a certain topic.
    The source’s access to decision makers, specific training or education in
    the desired topic area, specific knowledge of events/situations/incidents
    can also be considered.

    Source Availability: How often can we go to this source? Are they
    someone we can tap daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?

    Insight Credibility: This is our assessment of the veracity of the
    insight offered. Here we need to consider whether or not this is
    disinformation, speculation, correct data or knowledgeable interpretation.
    Any bias that the source is displaying or any specific viewpoints or
    personal background the source is using in the assessment provided should
    also be considered.

    Insight Uniqueness: Is this insight something that could be found in OS?
    If it is but the analysis of the information is unique, it would still
    have a high uniqueness ranking. Or, if it is concrete data, but is
    something that is only offered to industry insiders, i.e. stats that
    aren’t published but that aren’t secret, it would still have a high
    uniqueness score.

    Scoring

    All of the above factors will be scored on an A-F scale, with A being
    exemplary and F being useless.

    Source Timeliness:

    A = turnaround within 24 hours

    B = turnaround within 48 hours

    C = turnaround within a week

    D = turnaround within a month

    F = lucky to receive a reply at all

    Source Accessibility:

    A = Someone with intimate knowledge of the particular insight

    B = Someone within the industry but whose knowledge of the topic is not
    exact (e.g. if we were asking someone in the oil industry about natural
    gas)

    C = Someone working close to the industry who doesn’t have intimate
    knowledge of a particular topic but can speak to it intelligently (e.g. a
    financial consultant asked to gauge the movement of the stock market)

    D = Someone who may know a country but doesn’t have any concrete insight
    into a particular topic but can offer rumors and discussions heard on the
    topic

    F = Someone who has no knowledge of a particular industry at all

    Source Availability:

    A = Available pretty much whenever

    B = Can tap around once a week

    C = Can tap about once a month

    D = Can tap only several times a year

    F = Very limited availability

    Insight Credibility:

    A = We can take this information to the bank

    B = Good insight but maybe not entirely precise

    C = Insight is only partially true

    D = There may be some interest in the insight, but it is mostly false or
    just pure speculation.

    F = Likely to be disinformation

    Insight Uniqueness:

    A = Can’t be found anywhere else

    B = Can only be found in limited circles

    C = Insight can be found in OS, but the source has an interesting
    take/analysis

    D = Insight can be found in OS, but still may not be common knowledge

    F = Insight is accessible in numerous locations


    Jennifer Richmond
    STRATFOR
    China Director
    Director of International Projects
    (512) 422-9335
    richmond@stratfor.com
    http://www.stratfor.com

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