1. Problem and Solution
Investment banks and family offices sustain significant risks employing a strategy of "insulation"
- In focus on more developed economies, thereby ignoring opportunities to improve the investment readiness of scores of transitional economies.
In priority, by committing disproportionately to stable countries, thereby ignoring rising problems in less developed countries and contributing to negative regional and international secondary effects, such as global environmental degradation and mass migration.
In interaction, by engaging with select local, national, regional, and international stakeholders and ignoring other key actors and spoilers, thereby adding risk to the investment.
In communication—because different industries, sectors of society, and governmental agencies describe and conceptualize situations differently, which leads to all-pervasive miscommunication and misunderstanding.
An additional risk for family offices
- In scope, targeting only isolated issues such as immunization, monitoring elections, educating girls, or digging wells neglects the development of the country as a whole, thereby leaving investments vulnerable to unforeseen disruptions, and undermining the long-term viability of any investment.
INCA (Inclusive Nationalism Capacity Assessment): a comprehensive, developmental, simple assessment
The Shared Information Framework: a process to generate common understanding among influential organizations
In a single image, INCA represents a picture of a country that is comprehensive and reveals threats to the country and the country’s capacity to adapt to those threats. Based on transparency and inclusiveness, the framework and INCA serve as a universal foundation for communication about any aspect of a country.
INCA and the Shared Information Framework help with the all the problems listed above by solving the communication problem.
INCA and the Shared Information Framework offer a successfully field-tested approach to generate a comprehensive developmental understanding of a chosen country and provides a common shared vocabulary to describe and think about the country.
INCA and the Shared Information Framework enable broad engagement of key stakeholders and effective communication among local and international public and private sector organizations about the threats, risks, challenges and opportunities in a country, and the sovereign and adaptive capacities of the country.
INCA and the Shared Information Framework help prepare new markets for investment banks, help social impact investors to solve environmental and social challenges, and lower the risks and costs of doing business for ventures already at work within the country.
3. The Inclusive Nationalism Capacity Assessment
What is INCA and why is it important?
The Inclusive Nationalism Capacity Assessment (INCA) is a specialized tool that can be used to assess the threat status of a country, and its sovereign capacity and adaptive capacity. INCA consists of a set of 8 levels reflecting the status of a country along 18 dimensions that represent its capacities and current threats.
Inclusive nationalism here refers to the progressive inclusion of all population subgroups as a nation develops. Inclusiveness is also built into the shared information framework through its equitable opportunity for involvement for the local, regional, and international prime actors that are most influential in the life of a country to participate in the assessment of the country and each other.
INCA provides a common vocabulary for use by prime actors and the public in the construction of the Shared Information Framework. The framework enables better and more predictable enforcement of the multiparty agreements necessary for the effective implementation of private and public-sector national-scale initiatives. The cooperative nature of the framework’s processes leads to more successful ventures and a more cooperative and inclusive society.
What are the levels for?
The purpose of the levels is to provide simple, numeric measures of increasing sovereign and adaptive national capacity. The simplicity of the measures makes them accessible and useful to a wide range of organizations, from different countries and different sectors of a society. The simplicity also makes it possible for prime actors (the local, regional, and international organizations and other entities most influential in the life of the country) to use INCA to assess threats to the country, and the country’s status along particular dimensions of sovereign and adaptive capacity. The levels reflect the phases of progress that a country is expected to traverse as it moves from very basic capabilities that are local to advanced capabilities that are more inclusive and global. In Phases 3, 4, and 5 of the Shared Information Framework, the range of perceptions (from different prime actors) about the status of a country will be shared and responded to, until reassessments converge to a common assessment of national capacities is arrived at among all the prime actors.
In Phases 3, 4, and 5, the levels are intended to draw opinions about the country’s national capacities from prime actor participants and are not meant to be used as a measurement tool that provides conclusive evidence. The purpose of Phases 3, 4, and 5 is to assist in the development of a more comprehensive understanding of the country’s status by exposing each prime actor to the perspectives of the other prime actors. The process leads to a common political and sociocultural operating picture of the country that helps the country in many ways: lowers political risk, increases predictability, and enables better multiparty agreements.
The Shared Information Framework is built in five phases.
The first phase combines a Sovereignty First desk assessment of the country with the client's own assessment of the country, using INCA as a common vocabulary. The value of an INCA assessment is that it measures the sovereign, economic, and social capacity of a country to adapt to threats and opportunities, and it simple to understand.
- Ideal to communicate about the country within your organization and with partners.
- 4 months.
The second phase adds the insights of local experts in each of INCA 17 dimensions. Sovereignty First, the client, and a score of local experts are able to use INCA as a common vocabulary. The value of a local-experts-INCA assessment is that it includes expert local perspectives rarely included in assessments.
- Ideal if you need a range of on-the-ground insights for your investment.
- 6 months.
The third phase changes who does the assessing—from assessments by experts to assessments by influential local, regional, and international organizations ("prime actors"). Prime actors assess the country using INCA, and assess each other's influence, importance, and motivations. For participating prime actors, INCA begins to become a common vocabulary. The value of a prime-actor-assessment is that it reveals how prime actors see the country and each other in dramatically different ways, and thus how unreliable every perspective is.
- Ideal if you need to understand the reliability of the information on which your success depends, and if you need to understand the trustworthiness and influence of a number of different organizations.
- 8 months.
The fourth phase is the Shared Information Framework's unique contribution. Whereas the third phase revealed how much the assessments of different prime actors differed, the fourth phase aims to bring most of the prime actors into agreement about what they perceive. Over rounds of assessment, with feedback about the assessments among the prime actor participants, coaching, and events that bring them together, prime actors move to a common understanding of the country and each other. The value of common understanding is it that makes the environment and the actions of other prime actors easier to predict.
- Ideal if you need a relatively transparent environment in order to create financial instruments or to initiate and negotiate an enforceable multiparty agreement. Also ideal if you are locked into a long position on a project with high political risk or that is already suffering setbacks and delays.
- 6 years.
The fifth phase continues the work of the previous phase. Once a common understanding has been achieved among most prime actors, it should be extended to all prime actors, to new actors entering the space, and to new leaders of already active prime actor organizations. The value of growing and deepening common understanding is that it makes it easier to negotiate enforceable multiparty agreements.
- Ideal if you need long-term transparency and predictability in a country, or if your goal for a country is sovereignty, stability, and development.
Phase One: (The Inclusive Nationalism Capacity Assessment) INCA: Country, Threats, and Capacity (4 months)
Problem: Lack of understanding of threats to a country and the capacity of a country to respond to those threats, in particular the ability of the country and local actors to negotiate and enforce agreements in the government, civil society, and private sectors.
Benefits: An understanding of threats to the country that might compete with your initiative, and a comprehensive orientation to the political, economic, social, and cultural capacity of a country. A simple vocabulary to describe the country both comprehensively and developmentally.
Actions: The Sovereignty First team:
- Leads an introductory meeting with our client, introduce our approach and INCA, work with client to define client’s 1-3 questions or themes they would like to see us give insights into using the INCA lens.
- Conducts an INCA assessment.
- Walks the client through an INCA assessment.
- Makes a comparative analysis between Sovereignty First’s INCA and the client INCA.
- Presents its findings to the client (the INCA data and the analysis).
- Posts the INCA data on the Sovereignty First website
- Makes a general analysis of the data, and creates or updates a generic report for its subscribers.
Phase Two: Integration of Local Experts (6 months)
Problem: A lack of awareness of “ground-truth” in the country. Insufficient number and limited range of relationships with local actors.
Benefits: Insights and knowledge from local experts from each of INCA’s eighteen dimensions of the country. Introductions to those local experts.
Actions: The Sovereignty First team:
- Identifies and meets with 1-3 local experts in each of the 18 INCA dimensions.
- Meets with one or more local experts in each dimension and review, challenge, and amend the Phase One INCA for that dimension.
- Works with local experts to name influential actors relevant to their dimension
- Introduces the client and local experts to each other
- Presents their findings to the client (an updated INCA data and analysis, and a list of actors influential in the life of the country).
- Posts the INCA data on the Sovereignty First website
- Updates its general analysis of the data, and updates the generic report for its subscribers.
Phase Three: Peer assessment baseline (8 months)
Problem: Difficulties for investors to cost risk, high political costs of business, and increased risk. The lack of a foundation for inclusive national sovereignty, stability, and development. Insufficient understanding of other local, regional, and international organizations influential in the country. Insufficient understanding of the degree of reliability of information regarding the country.
Benefits: Better understanding for any Sovereignty First client: A sense of national values and aspirations; understanding of competing national threats, and national ability to respond to those threats, and to support and enforce agreements; definable end states for national development initiatives; an annotated list of local, regional, and international organizations influential in the life of the country; and a measure of the range of disagreement among influential organizations concerning the country (and the reliability of an information regarding the country).
Actions: The Sovereignty First team:
1. Identifies influential actors from the following range of actors from the tracks listed below:
- Local, regional, and international governments
- Local military, intelligence community, non-state violent actors, US Military
- Political parties, local intelligentsia
- Ethnic and religious organizations
- Local media, regional media
- Civil society organizations, INGOs
- Local, regional, and international business, finance, and banking concerns
Adds these possible potential prime actors to the lists of influential actors provided by local experts in Phase Two.
Interviews at least 3 organizations from each track listed above (minimum of 51). Based on the results of the interviews, the Sovereignty First team determines potential prime actors, and pursues them for interviews.
2. Aggregates and integrates the data, and posts it on a dedicated web portal
Presents its findings to the client.
Analyzes the data, and expands and updated its report for subscription owners
Phase Four: Convergence (estimated full convergence after 16 rounds and 6 years)
Problem: Difficulties for investors to cost risk, high political costs of business, increased risk, and higher costs to hedge against risk. The lack of a common understanding of the country and the priorities of prime actors for the country.
Benefits: A common understanding among prime actors: About the country, its threats and capacities, prime actors, and the priorities of those prime actors; also new and strengthened cross-factional networks. Common understanding and cross-factional networks enable the emergence of formal and informal governance networks; the identification of threats and the development and negotiation of solutions to them; and to negotiate and enforce the multiparty agreements that are the foundation of sovereignty, stability, capital investment, and development.
Actions: The Sovereignty First team:
- Conducts interviews with a growing number of prime actors. In the interviews, participants are asked to review the anonymous assessments and rationales from the previous round(s) and imagine what kind of experience and circumstances would lead prime actors to have given their answers, especially at the extremes (most optimistic or most pessimistic); and make a new assessment based on what they’ve learned from other prime actor responses, from how circumstances have changed in the four months since their last interview, or from Sovereignty First’s coaching, events, or media campaign.
- Aggregates and integrates the data and posts it on the dedicated web portal.
- Coaches prime actors in how to use the information on the web portal.
- Facilitates monthly networking events for prime actors and introducing them to each other as requested.
- Begins an ongoing local, regional, and international educational media campaign.
Note this phase is the same as Phase 3 except the process is now dynamic. There are three rounds of interviews a year, one every four months. During each round, participants are guided to respond to the previous rounds. Over time, INCA is adopted as a common vocabulary, and the INCA and prime actor data is adopted as a common understanding of the country, including:
- Threats to the country, ranked in importance.
- The capacity of the country to govern itself
- The economic, social, and cultural capacity of the country to adapt to threats and opportunities
- The local, regional, and international organizations most influential in the life of the country
- The motivations of each influential organizations toward the future of the country.
Phase Five: Maintenance and Growth—same as Phase 4 (ongoing, 3 rounds a year)
Problem: An unraveling of the common understanding and cross-factional networks built over six years in Phase Four, due to a turnover in prime actors and their leadership and changing circumstances. A return of political and cultural opacity.
Benefits: Growth in the number of prime actors included in the framework and an understanding of their priorities; repairing and deepening of their common understanding and movement toward consensus on priorities; strengthening of cross-factional networks and thus enabling the further emergence of formal and informal governance networks, the ongoing negotiation of new multiparty agreements and the further enforcement of the agreements already negotiated—all further strengthening the foundation of the country's sovereignty, stability, capital investment, and development.
Actions: This phase is the same as Phase 4, except now, with a common vocabulary and understanding, the Sovereignty First team:
- Reaches out to and integrates new leaders of prime actors and other influential actors
- Reaches out to and integrate new prime actors and other influential actors
- Reaches out to and updates the common understanding of the country INCA matrix and the prime actor maps in response to changes in and outside of the country, especially internal and external shocks.
Dr. Wolterstorff speaks to a gathering the Association for the US Army's joint conference with the US Army War College Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.
The Atlantic Council's Syria Source blog:
Finding Ground Truth in Syria: Bringing Light to a Confused Information Environment
Wolterstorff, Eric. "INCA: Creating an opportunity for Shared Responsibility." US Army War College, Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1, September 2015, pp. 12-13.
For more information, a presentation, or a price sheet—
Contact Eric Wolterstorff
To join our team—
Contact Madeline O'Harra
1901 N. Fort Myer Drive
Arlington, VA 22209