Policy makers and project managers often find it invaluable to create a 'Red Team' to provide an independent challenge to assumptions, and identify weaknesses in, an organisation’s plans, programmes and policies. (They are called Red Teams because red is the enemy colour in war games.) Red Teams can in particular help policy formulators identify group-think, improve logical analyses and help correct faulty thinking before a strategy is launched.
- It’s not a ‘know it all’ team.
- It can’t uncover all possible weaknesses in a concept, plan or policy.
- It isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the only form of review.
But a Red Team can:
- Challenge assertions and identify faulty logic or flaws analyses.
- Assess the strength of the evidence base.
- Identify alternative options or outcomes.
- Test a draft plan or policy through the eyes of the recipient or other outsider.
- opportunities, risks and threats;
- bias and/or group-think and flawed assumptions;
- the need for contingency plans, and
- the need for further or improved measures of effectiveness.
Red Teams' toolboxes typically include:
- Devil’s advocacy
- High impact/low probability analysis
- Key assumptions check
Be aware, though, that Red Teaming can upset senior people if it undermines their preferred strategies, or calls into question their choices, policies and intentions. I therefore recommend reading and thinking about 'speaking truth to power' before establishing a Red Team.
[This advice draws heavily upon a presentation by Kerry Hutchinson.]