Describe the role and desired skills of the OA Synthesist / Designer.
Opportunity Analysis (OA) is a structured collaborative process designed and executed by a team of six to eight OA synthesists and designers to identify combined US Government and partner opportunities to address complex, real-world problems. The aim of OA is to develop high impact, decision ready, and realm of possible options to prevail against complex problems by unifying and harmonizing the full array of capabilities held across the community of critical stakeholders. Often weeks to months in length, an OA team first seeks to define, scope, and bring strategic context and common understanding of a given complex problem; then engages the critical stakeholders to determine current and desired posture; and then design and execute a problem-specific structured analysis among the stakeholders.
OA Synthesist/Designers form the core of a hybrid cell of operations experts, planning experts, design thinking experts, intelligence analysist, subject matter experts, and IT specialists. Differentiated from an all-source analysts and other intelligence analysts, OA Synthesist/Designers participate in, and drive the OA engage-design loop. The success of each OA campaign rides predominately on the body of work produced by OA Synthesist/Designer core team. OA Synthesist/Designer also fulfill sequencing roles in the post OA implementation phase to create executable options and contribute to campaign design.
- Research and assemble intelligence and all source threat information, blue/green information, relevant non-threat data (markets, futures, trends, non-intelligence scientific and engineering facts, etc.) with an eye toward creation of opportunity for proactive operations to be conceived during OA execution with key stakeholders.
- Identify / inventory existing plans, strategies, programs, capabilities, activities, and operations of the parent agency, interagency, and partner nation organizations that have bearing on the OA topic.
- Compile, organize, illuminate linkages in multi-spectrum information and intelligence to synthesize an Information Support Package (ISP) which is iteratively shaped and curated to fulfill, inform, or revise the OA design, and ultimately directly supports the OA execution.
- Work closely with key stakeholders to conduct research and analysis in cooperation with subject matter experts, planners, practitioners, and intelligence analysists to define topic-centric knowledge for further illumination, potential exploitation, and the development of opportunities.
- Discover key correlations and design vignettes to be used during the OA event. Shape the ISP to directly support the vignettes.
- Coordinate with IT specialists to integrate various data and knowledge into visualizations that help to illuminate key aspects of the problem topic and concepts for its resolution.
- Participate in, or when appropriate, lead engagements with the stakeholders to gain first-hand knowledge of their unique activities and enablers that have bearing on the OA topic.
- Participate in the preparation and execution of formal and informal briefings, including performing as the lead briefer, when appropriate.
- Research and further develop raw stakeholder concepts into viable, executable options that are decision-ready or viable if not decision-ready.
- Organize resulting OA options into themes and sequences to form executable options for potential use in campaigns.
OA synthesists/designers are self-starting, outspoken, proactive, agile thinkers, with good communication skills and a strong work ethic. OA synthesists/designers work well in dynamic team settings where dissent is encouraged for betterment of the approach and products. OA synthesists/designers are comfortable in highly dynamic environments where daily objectives can evolve rapidly to accommodate design agility.
OA synthesis/design experts are proficient in research, analysis, critical thinking, Design Thinking, effective communications (written and oral presentation), and OA. Given that a considerable proportion of the information in every ISP will be drawn from intelligence, synthesis experts often have intelligence analyst experience. Proficiency in MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Word and SharePoint is critical. Proficiency in MS Access, MS Teams and advanced visualization skill is highly desirable, but not critical.