Summary of Red Team

How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

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Red Team book summary
To ensure your strategy works, have a contrarian “red team” expose every flaw.

Rating

8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style

Recommendation

National-security expert Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, explains that many executives can’t evaluate their own strategies and often remain blind to their competitors’ perspectives. To solve this problem, he advocates using – in military parlance – a “red team.” This panel of “devil’s advocates” tries to “think like the enemy” as it probes for weaknesses in strategy, performance and defenses. Zenko shows red teams in action during the hunt for Osama bin Laden, provides a tour of the US Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies – nicknamed “Red Team University” – and offers advice on adapting the red-team approach to evaluating your business strategies. Even though the writing is sometimes dry, Zenko’s tales of computer hacking, counterterrorism operations and “war games” are compelling. getAbstract recommends his clear descriptions and wise suggestions to senior executives, strategists, marketing managers, information-technology specialists and security professionals.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the US military uses “red teams” as “devil’s advocates” to critique and assess strategy
  • How your business can adopt red-team tactics to gain an unbiased view of its strategy and performance
  • How to form an effective red team
 

Summary

A Change of Perspective
When US military or intelligence officers plan a crucial operation, they often convene a team of “devil’s advocates” to attack their strategy ruthlessly. This so-called “red team” probes the plan for weaknesses, runs a range of simulations and brainstorms about ...
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About the Author

Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Micah Zenko worked previously at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Brookings Institution, Congressional Research Service and the State Department's Office of Policy Planning. His national security column appears on ForeignPolicy.com; he writes for Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post and The New York Times.


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