Red Team / 'Major-Smith'

Red Team

When the UK military plans a campaign, it uses 2 teams. The primary team look at how to achieve success, the second (Red) team look at how the opposition will try to stop them.

Neither team communicates with the other. The 2 teams present their plans separately to the Senior Commander who has to achieve success. Because they are looking at it from a different angle, the Red team will often think of things the primary team has not, which will help the Commander decide on what to do.

The better / more experienced the Red Team, the better final result for the outcome.

There is a direct read-across to the Private Sector. Whether it is reviewing an annual business plan or testing a proposed completion strategy; it can pay dividends.

‘Major Smith’

The phrase “please can you Major-Smith this for me?’ is a Royal Navy Submariner’s way of asking for something to be checked. E.G. a complicated operational signal written by a Warfare officer would be ‘major-smithed’ by an engineer as the content is outside his normal professional field. In the case of a complicated nuclear repair procedure, a Warfare officer would be asked to do the major-smith for the same reasons. Submariners try never to leave anything to chance. If they get something important wrong it can have dire consequences; so they always double-check everything.

In summary. Red Team makes sure the plan is the best possible and Major Smith ensures that it is communicated in a clear and unambiguous way

A good example of how these techniques could have worked in the private sector was shown recently. If Bernard Looney; the CEO of BP had got someone to Red Team and then Major Smith his recent LinkedIn post about paying for fuel for the emergency services, the ambiguity (he meant the emergency vehicles, it read as though he meant the individual people driving their own vehicles to work) would have been identified and the resulting confusion and damage to reputations have been avoided.

The Institute for Digital Disruption is exploring how digital tools can make these processes, Better, Faster and More cost effective

With a Red Team now in place we are comparing and contrasting with conventional organisations where they may have a team of Non Executive Directors in place.

About the IDD
The Institute for Digital Disruption is a non profit organisation whose objective is to share information about how modern digital tools and processes may disrupt the conventional. It will always be free to join.

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