Is Information Management, 'Intelligence Management'?

by Duane J. McCollum, MSIM Alum, Class of 2004, 2nd Cohort

Tobin Hensgen's Friday, March 9, 2007 talk on 'Information Disconnects' in Intelligence Organizations got me thinking about how similar the information management problems are in Intel Organizations (FBI, CIA, etc) and your garden-variety knowledge-worker company. (His talk was part of UW Institute for National Security Education and Research colloquium).

Tobin announced at the beginning of his lecture he was going to use the terms intelligence and information interchangeably--which was something I appreciated. About four years ago, I read a lot about military intelligence while working on a big defense program. It got me thinking that information management, as I normally thought about it, should go beyond definitions such as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130 defines as 'the planning, budgeting, manipulating, and controlling of information throughout its life cycle'. [1] Perhaps it has to do more with managing information pull societies --that is, meeting, perhaps anticipating (to some extent), the intelligence needs and wants of people in terms of situational outcomes?

Consider that it seems most of us want, and expect, information to help us make decisions. Information is an active part in our decision making, not an inert artifact laying around to be discovered (of course, we often transform the latter into the formerÝbut that's another story). If I talk about being able to make informed decisions, it sure sounds like I am talking about using intelligence products.

If we see information management is a kind of intelligence management for an organization, then what does that mean? It means, perhaps, the goals of those Intel organizations Tobin talked about have something to teach us information professionals about our non-Intel organizations. (At best, we can learn some important things from studying what Intel is, how Intel organizations work, how they negotiate and manage meaning, and they moves their Intel/information products around).

[1] OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-130, "Management of Federal Information Resources" (Last accessed March 16, 2007).


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Page last updated: June 8, 2007