At the September 2023 i2 user conference we had the privilege of hearing from Nadia who challenged our audiences' thinking about their approach to analysis in her talk i2 'Analyst’s Notebook: The Ultimate Playground for a Curious Mind'.
The i2 User & Training Conference (UTC) Europe 2023 was unique and memorable for many reasons. The sense of community. The keenness to learn. The exciting new developments on offer. And the raucous cheer I received in response to the question, “Who here remembers having a rotary dial telephone?”. It blew me away, and I fear some unattractive gawping may be visible on the recording of my keynote speech, ‘i2 Analyst’s Notebook: The Ultimate Playground for a Curious Mind’.
It's a question I often ask when speaking or training, to gauge the technological age of my audiences’ minds. Nobody can deny the exponential explosion of information availability in recent years, and yet the impact this has on our thinking skills is not always acknowledged. I’ve watched the penny drop many times with my students, as I challenge them with a technology-free exercise in my ‘Food for Thought – Thinking Skills in the Modern Age’ workshop. The realisation that it’s more than information overload burnout. That their planning skills are rusty. That their logical brain is no longer as loud as their emotional brain.
And yet, information overload, approached correctly, can help you access an oft overlooked and sometimes mistrusted thinking skill: subconscious reasoning.
My subconscious has spoken to me frequently throughout my career. Knowing exactly what the right next step is, even if you don’t clearly understand why, whilst also knowing that it’s not an emotionally-driven ‘reaction’ that you’re experiencing. And I’m obviously not alone in this, given the number of people who came up to tell me as much after my talk, relieved and grateful that someone was discussing this almost taboo topic on a very public platform.
The challenge is learning to hear, and eventually trust, your subconscious voice. Certainly, in my experience, tools like i2 Analyst's Notebook (ANB) can help you achieve that. Whether it's a brain dump onto a manually sketched chart, or the use of Selection Sets to help you view and explore combinations and permutations of information, i2 can help the conscious and subconscious minds communicate. It’s like two people sitting down together over a single reference point and working things out, and it’s often the simpler functionality of i2 ANB that facilitates this. Drawing, categorising, playing. The types of things that tap more into our “metaphoric mind”† than the algorithm and process-driven functions typically used to handle big data.
Data overload, and conversely a lack of data, can be times for subconscious reasoning to shine. The key component is not to panic or fear the situation; allow yourself time to absorb what you have, then get a good night’s sleep (if you have the luxury of time) to let your subconscious do its work. Experienced analysts are perhaps more likely to have a subconscious revelation than those new to the role, as they have enough information in their memory banks to allow for pattern matching. However, both will benefit from actively remaining curious about how their minds work, being open to possibility, and ready to listen next time that internal voice pipes up.
My name is Nadia, and my trusted subconscious voice is shouty and impatient. It sometimes gives me a fluttery feeling between my gut and my heart, and it doesn’t leave me alone until I’ve paid attention.
Over to you.
† Samples, B. (1976). The Metaphoric Mind. A Celebration of Creative Consciousness. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Nadia is a Senior Lecturer in Police Practice at Brunel University, with a background in Criminal Intelligence Analysis & Investigations across policing, sports integrity, and the financial sector.
Aside from her continued passion for Intelligence Analysis, Nadia’s main interests are Thinking Skills and Well-being, in particular the neuroscientific footprint of and symbiosis between the two.
This article is based on a presentation "i2 Analyst's Notebook: The Ultimate Playground for a Curious Mind", written and delivered, by Nadia Tuominem at the i2 User and Training Conference Europe.
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