Monday, April 13, 2009

Reflections of a Red Team Leader
by Susan Craig


This article focuses on the military aspects of red team leadership and characteristics commonly found in leaders of red team groups. The author suggests these traits will help any person in an organization think more critically of the environment the decision will be implemented in.

Legislation was enacted to implement red teams to prevent "failures of imagination and critical thinking apparent in the wake of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq." According to Craig the most important aspect of being a red-teamer is the ability to ask good questions. Those questions should not alienate, but rather stimulate thought and point out assumptions or factors not being addressed. A red team should also identify poor measures of effectiveness and think about better indicators for feedback.

Specifically in terms of the military application of red-teaming the leader needs to consider coalition partner's constraints, capabilities, and political will, as well as their shared opponents.

Craig believes the understanding of cultural idiosyncrasies is forefront to leading a red team. Especially important is the understanding of formal and informal economies; sociological political and religious systems; sociolinguistics; semiotics; and its concept of violence.

More generally applied lessons from leading red teams is espoused upon by Craig. First, the red team should act more as a historian than an analyst (focusing on broad questions as opposed to a very specific question). Red team's insights should be tailored to the audience it addresses. The red team should be as diverse as possible. The implementation of red team recommendations needs leadership committed to making changes to the original plan. The red team leader should possess the abilities to advocate and persuade.

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