Be More Spy: How to Gather Intelligence and Prepare for Danger

by | Mar 8, 2021

In January 2020, Steve Parks saw news that a mysterious illness in China was now spreading from human to human. He tweeted some sage advice:

“If your organisation’s pandemic preparedness plan has been gathering dust in a drawer, it might be time to dust it off and update it.”

It seems he had a point.

And when it comes to running a business, he believes you must have good sources of information and prepare for a wide range of scenarios.

“It’s about information gathering and scenario planning,” explains the CEO of Convivio, a ‘challenger consultancy’ that works with government organisations, including the secret ones. “It is possible to do what governments do with the help of their intelligence agencies — just at a much smaller scale, within your agency.”

You can prepare for even the most outwardly unpredictable of problems if you have good information – take the pandemic as an example.

“Since 2008, pandemic disease has been at the top of the UK’s National Risk Register. Therefore, we don’t really have an excuse for thinking it came out of nowhere,” says Steve. “It’s all about looking for risks that might come up and how you’re going to manage and mitigate them. How do you then forecast and plan?”

Steve will be talking us through how newsrooms and intelligence agencies alike gather and analyse information, and how agencies can learn from that. He’ll introduce us to some tools and techniques that can help agencies of any size introduce more strategic planning – including a ‘risk radar’ you can use in your routine management meetings.