You marshal your forces and attack the opposing party. But there is a long lead time from the filing of a lawsuit to the commencement of a trial. During that time you lay out your strategy. How to approach the case, handle witnesses, develop a compelling narrative and theme. But you don’t want to be surrounded by yes-men. While working on a project it is easy to develop a cocoon; a selective filter bubble that incorporates only what works and fits in neatly with your narrative. But you have to push back against it and organize dissent.
You need a Red Team.
A red team is an independent group that seeks to challenge an organization in order to improve effectiveness.
The key theme is that the aggressor is composed of various threat actors, equipment, and techniques that are at least partially unknown by the defenders. The red cell challenges the operations planning by playing the role of a thinking enemy.
Some of the benefits of red team activities are that it challenges preconceived notions by demonstration; they also serve to elucidate the true problem state that planners are attempting to mitigate. Additionally, a more accurate understanding can be gained about how sensitive information is externalized, as well as highlight exploitable patterns and instances of undue bias with regard to controls and planning.
Red Teams are heretics. They try to buck expectations and throw a monkey wrench into solidified plans with little manpower and small resources. Red teams are generally smaller, underfunded, and placed at a disadvantage from the get-go. All things being equal, they are supposed to lose.
But a Red Team’s weaknesses also give rise to: creative problem solving, lateral thinking, intense team cohesion, strategic surprise, deconstruction of dogma. Essentially, a Red Team takes the role of advocate for a disadvantage adversary. Which is exactly what you need to cultivate within your office heading into litigation. Especially when you feel confident about your case.
Eight Core Principles of Red Teaming
- Create the right conditions. Red teaming needs an open, learning culture, accepting of challenge and criticism.
- Plan red teaming from the outset. It cannot work as an afterthought.
- Support the red team. Its contribution should be valued and used to improve outcomes.
- Set goals. Provide clear objectives for the red and blue teams.
- Fit the tool to the task. Assemble an appropriate red team and ensure individuals have the right skills and experience to do the job.
- Build constructive criticism. Ensure that the red team works with the blue not against them, but that the red team approach is critical and appropriately adversarial.
- Focus on key issues. Red teaming should contribute quality thinking rather than quantity.
- Manage the scenario. Poorly conducted red teaming is pointless, can be misleading, and may engender false confidence.
So when developing positions within the office, also take the time to develop a Red Team to attack your positions. By taking the time to have someone actively attack your positions, you will be much more prepared heading into litigation. Proper Red Teaming can hopefully nullify most surprises that could occur.
For a more formal overview (albeit military focused), see the UK DCDC Guidance Note: A Guide to Red Teaming (87 pages, PDF).
Looking back, I should have had someone Red Team my book, it would have been better.