The most enduring leadership lesson I ever learned was a military adage that says:
“Your plan is only good until first contact with the enemy.
And the enemy’s job is to stop your.”
In military training, friendly forces are called the ‘Blue Team,’ while enemy forces are considered the ‘Red Team.’
The Red Team’s job is to stop the Blue Team’s plan.
Recently a simulated battle took place at the U.S. Marine Corps training Centre at Twentynine Palms, California. The exercise involved 600 British Royal Marines acting like the ‘enemy’ force, or ‘Red Team’ against a much larger U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) unit preparing for deployment overseas.
The British press gloated that the Royal Marines trounced the USMC so severely during the exercise that US commanders asked for a pause to reset their plans.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a similar simulated defeat, and I was glad for it.
Except for a few bruised egos, nobody was hurt. We learned important lessons. And plans were tested and improved. And we were better for the experience and more prepared for the day when we faced off against a real enemy.
This is the point of exercising and training: To test your plans and capabilities.
How about your plans?
Outside of the military, most organizations conduct their planning with a small group of executives. Or worse, planning is done by one person, the CEO.
One of the best ways to ensure your strategy or projects are successful is to test it by an objective team, a ‘Red Team,’ that sees it through clear and new eyes.
The red team evaluates a strategy, a presentation, or a business plan for weaknesses and checks that any unanswered questions are answered to improve the plan.
And give it the best chances of success.
if your presentation or strategy has serious problems, they should tell you that, “This is not making sense!”
Red teaming can be a very unsettling experience for some – but the goal of each member of the red team is to help improve the strategy, presentation, value proposition, business plan and chances of success.
Remember, to have success; you occasionally have to break a few eggs!
Here are some optimal guidelines for forming and running a red team review:
- Because of their experience, members of our red teams emulate the process and mindset of the stakeholders.
- Pick at least three people to serve on each team.
- They are knowledgeable in the company’s space.
- Team members must have no prior connection with the team that is presenting.
- They must be willing and able to commit the necessary time and attention to the process.
- Insist that members are given at least two days to read the materials in the presentation and do a bit of personal research.
- Team members must be committed to helping the team improve their chances of success.
Benefits of a Red Team Review
A Red Team Review is an independent test of the executive’s decision-making. The results will provide you with guidance and direction on what must be done to improve your plan’s chances of success.