Friday, September 21, 2012

This appears a useful tool for thinking about tough problems.

Richards J. Heuer, Jr. in his book, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, recommends the following
analytic tool.

Step-by-Step Outline of Analysis of Competing Hypotheses 
1. Identify the possible hypotheses to be considered. Use a group of analysts with different perspectives to brainstorm the possibilities. 
2. Make a list of significant evidence and arguments for and against each hypothesis. 
3. Prepare a matrix with hypotheses across the top and evidence down the side. Analyze the "diagnosticity" of the evidence and arguments--that is, identify which items are most helpful in judging the relative likelihood of the hypotheses. 
4. Refine the matrix. Reconsider the hypotheses and delete evidence and arguments that have no diagnostic value. 
5. Draw tentative conclusions about the relative likelihood of each hypothesis. Proceed by trying to disprove the hypotheses rather than prove them. 
6. Analyze how sensitive your conclusion is to a few critical items of evidence. Consider the consequences for your analysis if that evidence were wrong, misleading, or subject to a different interpretation. 
7. Report conclusions. Discuss the relative likelihood of all the hypotheses, not just the most likely one. 
8. Identify milestones for future observation that may indicate events are taking a different course than expected.
Click here for detail on the tool.

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