Morphological analysis is an advanced intelligence analysis technique used for situations where there is little information available and a lot of uncertainty. It is especially useful for what are called non-quantifiable problems – problems where we can’t even identify all of the factors because they are sociopolitical situations.
Morphological analysis was developed by a scientist named Fritz Zwicky.
It involves identifying all of the potential “parts” of a problem, separating them out and reassembling them in as many different ways of possible to identify potential outcomes.
Conduct a Morphological Analysis
We start by identifying the issue at hand. For instance, Sweden’s building and maintenance of bomb shelters. There was discussion over what to do with these shelters going forward.
Six issues were identified:
- Where should shelters be located? Options include metropolises, large cities, suburbs and the countryside, or no specific location. This is “geographic priority”
- What should the purpose of the shelters be for? To store mostly technology, to meet humanitarian needs, or for long-term residential living. This is the “functional priority”
- How many people should be allowed in the shelter – should they be large or small, crammed or crammed?
- The “new construction” issue discusses whether new ones should be built alongside other new construction, whether existing structures should be purchased, or whether new shelters should be built only with a defence build up.
- The “maintenance” issue explores whether maintenance levels should be increased, decreased or stay the same
- Finally the “general philosophy” refers to whether all communities should get the same shelters, take the same risk, or only key personnel or needy communities should.
In each category (along the X axis), there items listed under it are potential “states”, which are listed underneath. The items indicated in blue are one potential set of circumstances to work through the problem.
With morphological analysis you can examine a huge number of potential outcomes and eliminate any that are unfeasible or logically impossible, leaving you with a set of circumstances for further analysis.