Structured Analytical Techniques

Structured Analytical Techniques (SATs) offer clients a deeper understanding of the information collected during enhanced due diligence or asset tracing assignments, where frequently information does not present a plain black and white picture, and analysis is required.

Moreover, SATs offer a method by which clients can fully utilise information in the decision-making process, making intelligence truly actionable and strategic in nature.

Some of the key techniques applied to intelligence cases are listed in the diagram below, grouped below per theme of analysis.

Case Study

Bearstone’s client was a large manufacturer of luxury goods, which had invested several hundred million euros in a production facility in a new market. Adversarial local power brokers were obstructing the completion of the facility, causing large costs to the client.

Our client had exhausted all amicable means of resolving the dispute. It had already invested heavily in the local manufacturing plant, and retreating and writing-off the investment was therefore not an option. At the same time, the construction of the facility could not be completed according to plan.

Our team started by reviewing all the documentation provided by the client, coupled with a series of structured interviews with senior managers involved in the case. This initial step was critical to the planning of the collection phase and definition of key intelligence requirements. It allowed our team to be targeted in their subsequent collection and analysis activities.

In parallel, we conducted preliminary research into key individuals among our client’s adversaries, and began developing a profile of these individuals.

Subsequently, we tasked associates to proceed with OSINT and HUMINT collection. This deployment was targeted at specific persons and issues, based on the preliminary research. This collection phase was similar to a typical enhanced due diligence investigation.

As the collection phase was nearing completion, we started analysing the information from the point of view of answering the following focal questions:

  • Who were these adversaries and why were they obstructing the client’s project?

  • What was their motivation and their end game – what did they aim to achieve?

  • What strategies could the client implement that would be in line with their ethical and legal constraints?

Following the intelligence-gathering activities, our analytical team conducted a thorough assessment of the information by implementing multiple SATs, including:

Chronologies, Timelines, Profiling and Contextualisation

Our team created a timeline of the key events influencing the main question of the case, starting from the adversaries’ early lives, through their business careers, followed by wealth expansion, leading up to the present-day dispute.

We used the key intelligence findings to profile the adversaries to enable us, and the client, to better understand their reasoning, interpretations of events, and motivations for certain actions.

Country and sector experts added their insights by putting all the information into a regional and historical context.

Multiple Hypothesis Generation

Equipped with a clear understanding of the client’s adversaries, and using all of the insights gained by absorbing the collected intelligence, our team brainstormed to create an all-inclusive and mutually-exclusive list of possible hypotheses for the key questions in the case.

We looked at the most interesting hypotheses, and used the existing body of intelligence to create alternative explanations and forecasts, or so-called competing hypotheses, by asking a fundamental question: “is it possible for this same evidence or intelligence to be interpreted in a way that it supports alternative explanations?”

These techniques provided us with plausible indications of what the end-game of the adversaries might be, as well as their expectations and next moves.

Static and Dynamic SWOT Assessment

In the application of the “Strengths and Weaknesses Of Target” (SWOT) technique, we began by looking at the static view of the client’s adversaries’ strengths and weaknesses, coupled with generating resultant opportunities and threats for the client.

In the next stage, we looked at the SWOT picture from a dynamic point of view, by devising action points to avoid the adversaries’ strengths and exploit their weaknesses – how to best utilise the opportunities listed in the static SWOT, and how to mitigate the threats.

Pros-Cons-Faults-Fixes

This technique was used to evaluate each of the proposed strategies that the client might implement in order to solve the main problem. We started by listing all of the positives and negatives of each strategy, that is: the benefits the client could expect to achieve by implementing a particular strategy, contrasted with all of the possible negative consequences of the same strategy or the costs of executing such a strategy.

Next, all assumptions were challenged by generating counter-arguments against each of the perceived positives; while for all of the potentially negative consequences we generated fixes, or mitigation strategies.

Such an approach allowed us to critically evaluate each proposed strategy and choose the best possible option. Moreover, it improved the team’s situational awareness as it approached the implementation phase, while also providing risk mitigation measures, in case something went wrong in the execution.

As a result of the comprehensive analysis, assessment and advisory work by our team, the client was able to gain a much better insight into its adversaries, their motives and rationales, and understand what was happening and why.

This was followed by a strategic review with the client’s team, during which each of the proposed strategies were critically evaluated. The client adopted an execution plan that was tailored to its legal, ethical, financial and operational limitations.

Most importantly, the client was invested in the chosen avenue of approach, knowing that it had selected the best possible course of action, given the available intelligence.