We Understand the Challenge
Today, defense, intelligence, and national security professionals face several critical challenges: emerging threats from state and non-state actors, technological disruption, cognitive warfare, socio-economic upheaval,and political uncertainty at home and abroad. Even the rate of change is accelerating rapidly. Leaders must also contend with internal and interagency friction as they develop and execute critical plans, operations, and strategies. They need flexible planning capabilities that allow them to sense and respond effectively to these pressing problems. We know this because we have lived it. We are red team leaders who have served with the American, British, and Israeli militaries. We established the Red Team Thinking Academy to arm national defense, security, intelligence leaders with the tools they need to make good decisions faster in today’s complex and rapidly changing world.
“Red teams are established by an enterprise to challenge aspects of that very enterprise’s plans, programs, assumptions, etc. … It is this aspect of deliberate challenge that distinguishes red teaming from other management tools.”
~ U.S. Department of Defense
Not Just Red Teaming – Red Team Thinking
The origins of red teaming go back to the Israeli intelligence failures in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which led to the establishment a Ipcha Mistabra, a group within the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence dedicated to challenging the organization’s own assumptions and producing contrarian thinking products. Since then, these approaches have become an inherent part of the nation’s strategic, military, and intelligence culture and practice.
Formal decision support red teaming was first created by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies as a response to the “failures of imagination” that led to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the policy blunders that undermined the initial military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases, the aim was to provide a methodical approach using an array of applied critical thinking tools and groupthink mitigation techniques to overcome cognitive bias, stress-test strategies, and help ensure that the best ideas won – regardless of where they originated in the organization. This approach was so immediately successful, that red teaming spread rapidly to other allied militaries and intelligence organizations around the world.
Red teaming has been successful because it recognizes that people and organizations court failure in predictable ways. They do so by degrees, often imperceptibly. And they do so according to their mindsets, biases, and experience, which are formed in large part by their own culture and context. The sources of these failures are simple, observable, and often repeated. The good news is that they are also preventable. That is what red teaming is designed to do. It relies on a dedicated team to provide independent, critical analysis of strategies and plans.
But there are limitations to this formal red teaming approach: it requires a commitment of personnel and resources that can create organizational challenges and it can slow down decision making. Those are luxuries many organizations can no longer afford.
That is why we developed Red Team Thinking.
Red Team Thinking is a cognitive capability that engages critical thinking, enables mission command, and encourages a diversity of thought so that the best ideas win. It represents the further evolution of that more formal decision-support red teaming methodology. We have taken this battle-tested approach and made it faster to teach, quicker to deploy, and easier to use in real time by decision makers at all echelons.
Red Teaming is a function that provides commanders/senior leaders and staffs the capability to pressure-test plans, surface alternatives, and create strategic alignment on goals and objectives. Red Team Thinking helps any decision maker overcome their personal biases and blind spots, challenge their assumptions, consider alternative perspectives, conduct critical reviews, and make better strategic choices.
We provide training in both of these complementary approaches, because both will help you and your team create plans with optionality to better address the complexity of today’s ever-changing security environment.
“Red teaming is a practical response to overcoming the complex problems introduced by our human frailties, helping us to recognise them and correct our thinking and analysis before faulty judgements are cemented in the minds of key decision makers.”
~ U.K. Ministry of Defence
Red Team Thinking Academy is the first and only decision support red teaming school created by military red teamers for military red teamers. Our courses are based on the curriculum used by the U.S. Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS), also known as Red Teaming University. But we have evolved this curriculum so that these techniques can be taught faster and used more effectively. Our tools can be used for formal red teaming analysis by dedicated red teams, but also on an ad-hoc basis by any leader to make better decisions faster.