Use a Red Team to Elevate Your Strategic Business Plan

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Rachel Miller

Red Team your strategic business plan

Here at Afterburner, it’s important for us to practice what we teach. One of the most valuable lessons we teach is the concept of a Red Team or peer review of plans, either strategic or project related. This is a group of individuals asked to review and poke holes in your plan. From a newsletter to a strategic business plan, at Afterburner, we use red teaming to ensure we execute the best version of any plan.

Who uses a Red Team?

We were curious to know more about the real-life application of red teaming among businesses. So, we conducted a survey of 500 people from businesses of all sizes. What we discovered is that red teaming isn’t just for large corporations but that businesses of all sizes utilize some method of red teaming and find benefit in doing so.

A Red Team is used by 39% of the businesses we surveyed. Of those, 56% of large business (1000+ employees), 48% of medium businesses (100-1000 employees) and 31% of small businesses (less than 100 employees) use some form of red teaming.

What did those surveyed, who use red teaming, do with the feedback they received? Seventy-four percent said that they change their plan some of the time and 22% said that red teaming changes their plan every time.

What about the success of projects? A strong majority of those who use Red Teaming, 61%, said that it had some impact on the success of projects and 30% said it had a high impact on the success.

A Red Team or peer review is different from getting a plan approved by your manager or executive team. It should be conducted before approval. That way the plan you submit has the added strength of being vetted and considered from diverse viewpoints.

Why you should be using a Red Team

While 39% of businesses we surveyed use peer reviewing Red Teams, a whopping 61% said they never did. Although most businesses don’t use red teaming they should.

  1. It strengthens your plan
  2. It helps you get buy-in from constituents and influencers
  3. It’s a non-threatening review process

Everyone wants to put the best plan into action. By using a red team, you get objective feedback from a non-bias group of people who are familiar with but not involved in creating the plan. They could catch something you missed that would have impacted the outcome.

One of our clients, Hari Ramakrishan, Senior Director, SaaS Transformation and Operations at VMWare, had this to say about Red Teaming, “by including constituents and influencers as part of your Red Team, you can drive consensus and ensure adoption of the plan down the road.” For example, a marketing team wants to launch a campaign that involves sales participation. If they give the campaign plan to some of the sales team members to Red Team beforehand it allows sales to give marketing their perspective and a chance to influence a plan that will directly affect them.

The Flawless Execution approach to Red Teaming is simple but effective. There are a certain set of rules when it comes to giving and receiving feedback during Red Teaming. When giving feedback, a red team member starts their comments with “have you considered” and the person receiving the feedback answers back with a simple “thank you” and moves on to the next Red Team member’s comments. These rules create a productive environment by removing emotional responses and justifications.

“The fact that you can be clear about the Red Team process up front, that everyone understands and follows the same rules, takes the emotion out of the dialogue and keeps the review of the plan collaborative and constructive,” said Hari.

Red Teaming improves your business execution

While not all companies use Red Teams, it is something that can be used across all business types and sizes. Red Teaming is an efficient way for you to obtain an independent evaluation to be sure you put the best plan into action to improve your business execution.

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