Brief updates from Austhink Consulting

Austhink News

This is the first of our (intended) monthly newsletters.  As you can see below, the format is "spare" and easily scannable.  Feedback welcome. 
If this email is not welcome please accept our apology.  An unsubscribe link is at the bottom of the page. 
New Website
In February we launched new website.  It gives viewers a much better overall sense of what Austhink Consulting does, providing at the top level a kind of "smorgasbord" of competences and services, while at lower levels it provides details including case studies and testimonials. Please check it out and let us know what you think. 
Neil Byron joins as Principal
A number of months ago, economist Dr. Neil Byron joined the Austhink team as a part-time Principal.  He is best known as a Commissioner in the Productivity Commission for over a decade.  Neil greatly extends our reach and capabilities in the direction of economic analysis. 
Collective Knowledge in Aerospace Industry
Tim van Gelder assisted a team at the Defence Science Technology Organisation to map collective knowledge on the issue of fleet sustainment. A paper emerging from this work was recently presented at an international aerospace conference; see Argument Mapping as a Tool for Analysis of Complex Problems.
Austhink Consulting has made a modest entry to the Twittersphere, tweeting @AusthinkConsult.  Follow us for occasional tips and links on matters of good thinking.  
Drafting Legal Advice
Paul Monk has been working with the College of Law, Australian National University, to develop better ways to coach graduate students to efficiently produce clear, well-argued letters of advice.  Austhink can assist law firms to adopt similar methods.  
Critical Thinking for Intelligence
Tim van Gelder has been consulting to a project set up by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence to develop a test of critical thinking of intelligence analysts.  One output is a working paper "Dimensions of Critical Thinking," available upon request.   
Rise of China
Paul Monk has given speeches on China at the Athenaeum Club and the Institute of International Affairs. He points out that concern about the rise of China often compares the current era with the lead-up to war in 1913.  We should however understand that Asia has its own history and that the roots of present dangers lie in the upheavals that occurred in Asia between 1895 and 1949.  The speech was published in Quadrant as "Portents of War Between China and Japan".
Crowd Wisdom for Intelligence
How can intelligence analysts and organisations synthesize and identify collective wisdom on critical intelligence issues?  Tim van Gelder addressed this in a recent presentation at a "How to" seminar organised by the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers.  The presentation, titled "How to identify the wisdom of the crowd," discussed how "deliberative aggegrators" can be applied in intelligence work.  The presentation included demonstrating a small pilot application of the YourView platform to critical intelligence questions in the North Korea crisis.  
Diverse Reflections
Paul Monk has recently produced opinion pieces for The Age on the gay marriage debate; Paul Keating's Keith Murdoch Oration proposal that Australia jettison ANZUS and seek to Make Indonesia its primary strategic ally; Steven Spielberg's award winning film Lincoln;the election of the new Pope and the significance of the Papacy; and the death of Hugo Chavez and an assessment of his regime. He has also written reflective pieces for The Australian's Weekend Review (on a new Russian novel; Rowan Callick's new book on China, Party Time; and two devastating new books on the Church of Scientology), The Australia Israel Review (on the life of Ariel Sharon; the Balfour declaration; and - forthcoming - two new books about the changing face of Israel in the 2010s).  He has also been appearing on the ABC, both radio and television, talking about China, North Korea, Israel and the Middle East; and Lincoln, slavery and the American constitution. For links or copies of any of these, contact Paul.  
Smart and Dumb
New Scientist recently had an interesting article, Stupid is as stupid does, discussing why stupidity is not the opposite of intelligence, and why intelligent people can behave stupidly.  The piece included this puzzler:

Jack is looking at Anne but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person? Possible answers are “yes”, “no”, or “cannot be determined”.  The vast majority of people will say it “cannot be determined”... but careful deduction shows the answer is...

We found this both entertaining and illuminating.  It crisply shows how we often fail to take advantage of information we already have. 

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