The Alliance relies on thoroughly considered and well-implemented plans, policies, and procedures taking into account the unique political, strategic, and operational issues it faces.
The processes of their development however necessarily drive towards a consensus opinion for numerous reasons, often at the expense of unique or divergent perspectives. Applying independent critical thought to such a problem may offer the decision maker a broader view of the situation. In addition, it can expose unforeseen implications that might cause failure of otherwise well-considered solutions.
Alternative Analysis (AltA) is a broadly applicable capability that supports the inclusion of independent, critical thought and alternative perspectives to support decision-making. It offers NATO staff the opportunity to inject additional knowledge – or knowledge perceived in a different way – into a decision-making process alongside traditional problem-solving techniques. In general, AltA’s overall goal regardless of its specific function is to reduce risk and expand opportunities through better decision-making.
AltA comprises of a set of techniques that can be learned and put into practice by any NATO staff officer. The techniques were not invented by NATO, but are rather drawn from a wide range of business and intelligence analysis practices. They are applicable to many different situations and are therefore techniques that staff officers can use throughout their careers.