Red Teaming

Contingency Planning – Red Teaming to Prepare for Every Possible Outcome

This article explains how to use Red Teaming as a way to develop contingency plans for any potential outcome.

Based on experience from Operation Desert Storm, Retired Colonel Sean Hannah writes from his personal experience about how the US Army builds contingency plans referred to as Red Teaming and how you can leverage that is corporate leadership.

How do you get a force totaling a massive 150,000 soldiers in strength to execute a substantially changed plan in stride, maneuvering divisions into new positions and directions of attack across an approximately 100-mile front, while maintaining coordination, synchronization, logistical support and effective performance?

The US Army operates in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) contexts where plans are not just likely to change but are expected to change. This thinking is highly applicable to any organisation dealing with VUCA, as most companies are right now during the pandemic.

Red Teaming Process has Six Steps

  1. Stakeholder Audit: thorough analysis of internal and external stakeholders that could impact the plan.
  2. Stakeholder Analysis: potential actions and reactions of stakeholder groups including desires, needs and fears
  3. Murphy’s Law: Assess potential what-if’s might occur – brainstorm the unknown – unknowns.
  4. Identify Milestones: Create a series of Critical Events and Decision Points.
  5. Create Contingency Plans: Alternative paths and plans need to be identified for each of the milestones.
  6. List Critical Information: create a matrix that identifies and describes each potential critical event and the associated decision point.

Red teaming does not have to be formal, it can also be done quickly. It can take a couple of weeks or be done in 15 minutes. Regardless of length or formality, everyone involved must apply a critical antagonist/adversary/challenger ‘role’.

As Dr Hannah states, “once instilled in the culture, this tool can be used at any time – even impromptu “let’s stop and red team this” in the middle of a meeting or planning discussion to stop and informally scrutinise the team’s thinking”.

“Plans are nothing, Planning is Everything”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Key Takeaways

  • The military red teaming process to develop contingency plans is highly applicable to all organisations facing volatile, uncertain, complex or ambiguous (VUCA) environments.
  • The process can take as long or as little time as you have available but you should aim to consider all the critical stakeholders and how they might impact the milestones
  • Documenting the alternatives enables you to be prepared for all eventualities and able to consider other potential decisions quickly
Synopsis of an article from Chief Executive
by Dr Sean T. Hannah
Published 28 August 2020
Link to full article:

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