Red Teaming - Deepstash
Red Teaming

Courtney Abbott's Key Ideas from Red Teaming
by Bryce G. Hoffman

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Red Teaming: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

Red Teaming: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

Red Teaming is a revolutionary new way to make critical and contrarian thinking part of the planning process of any organization, allowing companies to stress-test their strategies, flush out hidden threats and missed opportunities and avoid being sandbagged by competitors.

Red teaming challenges your plans and the assumption upon which they are based. It forces you to think differently about your business and consider alternative points of view.

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Red Teaming: The Concept

  • Red teaming makes critical and contrarian thinking part of your company’s planning process and gives you a set of tools and techniques that can be used to stress-test your strategy. 
  • Red teaming helps you better understand your customers and your competitors. 
  • Red teaming helps you scan the business environment for both threats and opportunities. 
  • Red teaming shows you the dangers that lie ahead—and how to turn them to your advantage. 
  • Red teaming may make your organization a bit uncomfortable, but it will also help you stay relevant, keep ahead of your competition.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: Conflict Is Good

Good leaders know that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with conflict. 

Dealing with conflict lies at the heart of managing any business. As a result, confrontation—facing issues about which there is disagreement—can be avoided only at the manager’s peril. The issue can be put off, it can be allowed to fester for a long time, it can be smoothed over or swept under some rug. But it is not going to disappear.

Conflicts must be resolved if the organization is to go forward. Constructive confrontation accelerates problem-solving.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: Having Top Cover

In a business setting, a red team will be most effective when it reports directly to the CEO and enjoys his or her full support. In practice, that will not always be possible. Red teams can still be effective when they report to the head of a department or division, as long as their scope is limited to those areas. If the red team tries to tackle problems outside of those areas, it is bound to find itself in conflict with other senior executives.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: It Works If Leadership Lets It Work

Even when red team members conduct themselves blamelessly, it can still be a challenge to get the entire organization to embrace red teaming and take the red team’s recommendations to heart. In the military, resistance to red teaming has come largely from officers who do not fully understand what red teaming is or why it is necessary. Once they are briefed on red teaming, that resistance usually dissipates.

Successful units also tend to resist red teaming. They think that because they have been successful in the past, they know what it takes to be successful in the future.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: Red Teaming To Death

It is counterproductive for a red team to analyze every decision an organization makes. Constant red teaming can be stressful and demoralizing for employees who have their every move questioned and challenged. That is not the point of red teaming, nor is it an effective use of red teams.

A red team should be used strategically and selectively. It should be brought in to analyze important decisions, major deals, and overarching strategies. It should be called on when problems cannot be satisfactorily solved through regular means.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: Red Team Your Red Team

A Red team cannot become a routine and should always challenge itself. It should always encourage its members to voice different perspectives and conflicting views.

Mixing up the way the team uses those tools and techniques is also a good idea. If you approach every problem the same way, you run the risk of making red teaming a bureaucratic exercise rather than the game-changing tool it should be. In addition, using the same methods over and over again can yield red teaming reports that read remarkably similar to one another, making them easier to ignore.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: You Can’t Be Always Right, But Don’t Be Always Wrong

A Red Team that is always wrong will never be taken seriously. Its warnings will be ignored. Its reports will go unread. Its members will lose their credibility. For that reason, red teams do need to pay attention to their track record and make sure that they hit the ball out of the park, at least occasionally.

If the Red Team misunderstands the problem it was asked to solve, recommends actions that have already proven unsuccessful, or suggests alternatives that are ethically, legally, or financially impossible, it will lose its credibility.

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The Seven Rules Of Red Teaming: Don’t Give Up

Many companies like simple solutions that do not require too much effort to implement. They prefer short-term fixes that offer immediate results, even if they do little to address the underlying problem. They are less interested in long-term solutions that require a coordinated effort to implement and that often take time to move the needle in a big way.

The Red team is not to be given up, as the easy way out usually leads back in.

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Implementing The Red Team

Red teaming is all about rigorous questioning and thinking unconventionally. Red teams consist of people who’ve proven to be contrarian thinkers. 

These are the three phases of a typical red teaming exercise:

  • Using analytical tools to question the arguments and assumptions that too often go unquestioned.
  • Using imaginative techniques to figure out what could go wrong – and what could go right – with the plan, in order to expose hidden threats and missed opportunities.
  • Applying contrarian thinking to challenge the plan and force the organisation to consider alternative perspectives.

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The Techniques Of Red Teaming

  • Restating a problem and re-examining the same.
  • Encouraging writing the problem and the solution(s).
  • Dissecting an argument, which involves asking a number of questions of any argument that is used to justify a particular course of action, or that is offered as an explanation for a problem.
  • Checking key assumptions and re-examining the obvious.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

coab

Education officer at museum

CURATOR'S NOTE

Military strategy for the corporate world

Courtney Abbott's ideas are part of this journey:

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