## Friday, October 30, 2015

### MAE Design Model and Morphological Analysis

Morphological Analysis
This technique helps generate ideas. In this example, this technique helps establishes a vegetable collection system. The analysts set up a table and incorporates the vegetables and options by collating them into a single matrix. This set up helps analyst see all of the ideas together. When building the table analysts should, “try to reduce the number of generated ideas from the lateral thinking diagram into those that really are the most suitable.” The table will help the analyst visualize the various systems that will combine to the final product.

Figure 1 is the Morphological Table for a vegetable collection system. This chart shows how the Generated Alternatives are formed into a matrix with images to help supplement the variable. Analysts then begin to formulate a path in order to develop a design or scenario. This step is depicted by Figure 2.

According to the author, analysts are now at a stage to begin concept design. For starters, “the first few concept designs should follow different routes through the Morphological Matrix, that is why you have compiled it. Do not ignore it. In this instance;”
Concept 1 could be – scoop > conveyor belt > water from well > bowl > track system > wind blown
Concept 2 could be – triangular plow > rotating mover > water from well > wheel > hand push
Concept 3 could be - scoop > conveyor belt > square mesh > wheel > hand push

Analysts should be able to produce at least three well-considered concepts. These are then annotated and developed to a level that is distinguishable as an acceptable solution or key assumption.

Critique
This method leaves a clear audit trail about how the judgments were reached and it reduces the chance the events will play out in a way that the analyst has not previously imagined. Although it, allows analysts to identify intelligence gaps, it may yield too many possibilities. Morphological analysis could also be confusing. It is effective when used early in an analytic product to generate ideas.

#### 8 comments:

1. I agree with your comment about leaving an audit trail, it is very important to document the process, and the matrix and paths through it would be very simple to justify to a DM. However, your statement about yielding too many possibilities can be resolved by using a computer-based approach which can not only develop thousands of possible scenarios, but can also highlight which scenarios are most likely and which aspects of each category are most central.

1. I agree with you on the computer based approach. It would help eliminate some of that cognitive bias. Also, I think that an ACH would be a good follow through technique.

2. Analysts who might be interested in using a computerized version of Morphological Analysis are referred to the Swedish Morphology Society (www.swemorph.com). This website has detailed guidance and examples of the use of Morphological Analysis for futures research, disaster risk management, complex sociotechnical problems, policy research, and other problems comparable to those faced by intelligence analysts (Heuer p. 121).

2. It might seem kind of silly in the grand scheme of things, but I actually like the pictures used in this article's matricies. It definately helps make the whole idea behind morphological analysis easier to grasp since you are able to interpret it visually.

1. Dan, thank you for the comment. This was easy to follow. I also think that because the simplicity makes it a good idea generation technique.

3. Does the author explain why analysts should be able to produce at least three well-considered concepts?

1. The author does not explain why analysts should be able to produce at least three well considered concepts, but I infer that if the table did not produce results then there is an issue with your problem statement or end. Also, since Morphological Analysis is generally used early in an analytic
project, it is intended to identify all the possibilities, not to drill deeply into any
specific possibility (Heuer p. 119).

4. I totally agree with your final sentence in your critique. And, I want to add one more thing to that sentence: It also resembles to mental modeling what we do at the beginning of intelligence processes since MA also lays out possible options (literally everything that is possible).