Why Red Teams Are Teams For The VUCA Age

The red vs blue team approach is a very common cybersecurity strategy used to anticipate challenges and threats to security. The red team acts as a test of an organisation’s systems and defences. But how can businesses use it in the VUCA business landscape?

This article will answer these questions and illustrate why red teams are a key technique to use for planning processes.

What Is A Red Team?

To get the gist of this business leadership concept, let’s look at it from a cybersecurity perspective first. 

Cybersecurity is all about protecting data and systems from potential threats like hackers, viruses, and so on. Sometimes, information security teams will have members of their team pose as adversaries, playing the role of hackers to weed out the weak points in system defences. They identify flaws in processes, devices, systems, and individuals that could compromise access to the system’s assets. From these faux hacks, the red team can suggest system improvements to enhance cybersecurity.

For businesses and business leadership and planning, the red team approach can be a tool to improve strategy and planning. The red team behaves like the devil’s advocate. However, instead of just poking arguments into an idea or perspective, red teams act practically to highlight flaws in a plan, strategy, project, idea or proposal. 

They can also act as the competition, driving your company or management team to anticipate possible responses from competitors to a proposed business move.

The blue team, then, is a team that implements these and other measures. They have a holistic view of the organisation and work to introduce systems that protect important assets from weaknesses.

These include systems suggested by a red team or recommended by the blue team itself. Blue and red teams can work together as their tasks serve the same purpose, to improve process planning.


Why Is The Red Team Important For VUCA?

Of course, when used for cybersecurity, red-teaming has notable benefits as it toughens up your digital security efforts and defences. But, as we’ve explained above, you can also use the concept of a red team to help in other areas of your business. In particular, it can help with your decision-making, planning and risk management, helping you counter or anticipate VUCA age characteristics.

Here are some of the benefits of red-teaming:


Provides perspective (complexities)

By integrating red team strategy into your planning processes, you gain perspective and insight that can guide your decision-making. This can help your business make better decisions, avoid some potential threats to the success of the plan, and understand the risks linked to a particular plan. 

Using red teams encourages critical thinking within an organisation, infusing objectivity into any planning process. The practice of red teaming helps you and your management team eliminate assumptions, view potential threats, and see a more vast range of possibilities. 

Having an objective way to evaluate plans grants perspective of how the plan may work in relation to your business’ customers, collaborators, markets, competitors, and other factors

This is an embrace of the VUCA values, which emphasise the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of all decisions. The red team eliminates unimaginative decision-making and encourages creative problem-solving.


Reduces uncertainty

Risk is an unavoidable element of new plans, projects, or proposals. However, when you have some information and insight at hand, possible risks become less threatening. Your red team investigates potential risks and uncertainties before they become realities. 

From the practical ‘attacks’ they make on your plan, your company can better prepare for risky outcomes or possibilities. Thus, you can use the flaws highlighted in the attacks to strengthen your plan and reduce uncertainty.


Improves organisational agility

You can also use the flaws highlighted by the red team to develop “in case of X” response plans. For example, the red team may identify a potential pandemic as a risky event that could affect a plan. From this, you can create a response plan to be implemented in the event of a pandemic. That way, you’re prepared for that eventuality. 

These contingency or response plans make your organisation more agile to shifts and changes that affect plans. Therefore, your business is better able to adapt to challenges successfully.


Keeps you ahead of the competition

Remaining prepared for most eventualities keeps your business a step ahead of the pack. The insights you get from red-teaming may become the difference between the success of your projects and plans over those of your competitors. 

Using a red team is a fantastic way to reflect and evaluate. In addition, the perspective gained can lead to innovative ways of responding to market changes.


Simple Ways To Use Red Teaming

There are numerous ways that you can use red-teaming for your business. You can:

  • Hire a fixed, cross-functional team dedicated to objective strategic analysis.
  • Rotate the red team responsibility among existing employees on a project-by-project basis.
  • Hire an external facilitator or review team. 
  • Introduce a red team step to all planning processes.
  • Develop red team contingencies for all projects, plans, proposals, etc.
  • Provide objective analysis training to all employees to encourage red team mentality and workplace culture.

Final Thoughts

In business, we can never avoid disruptions. That is the basis of VUCA. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are all part of the organisational life cycle. But how can your business respond to these events? It’s certainly a huge question on most minds as organisations across the world have struggled to adapt to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red teaming is a fantastic way to remain abreast of disruptions, stay adaptable, and promote organisational agility. It encourages you to look beyond the obvious answers, examine possible difficulties, and find creative ways to address them. It is a strategic technique that uses analysis, critical and ‘devil’s advocate’ thinking, and imagination. 

With this planning and strategy tool, your business can take your decision-making and projects to the next level. Every move you make will be an informed one and you can ensure that you’re always ready for anything.


If your organisation is looking for a tool to involve all employees in red team vs. blue team activities, decision-making and debate topics, have a look at the Falcony Platform. It enables your staff to participate in creating clarity on non-conformities, prevent and decrease the amount of friction in cross-team communications and gather actionable data while doing these.


We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

More information at falcony.io.

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