Implementing a “10th man” strategy - A red team way of thinking?

Jimi S., a long time reader of the blog, sent me this article: Save your company from the undead with a 10th man business strategy. Thanks Jimi.

In the article, Pam talks about the movie World War Z and how the Israelis managed to survive longer by implementing a "10th man strategy".

In Israel, Jurgen Warmbrunn, the leader of Israel’s intelligence agency, tells Gerry that Israel implemented a “10th man” strategy to avoid tragedies. After ignoring hints of potential attacks and being caught off guard in the past, this 10th man strategy, simply put, was that when the first 9 men at the table agreed on something, the 10th man must take the opposite point of view. In this case, Israel’s leaders had received an email mentioning a zombie attack, and while the first 9 men declared that this was nonsense, Warmbrunn was the 10th man, and began working as though this was true.

That right there, in my opinion, is the Red Team Mindset in action.

We often use the 10th man strategy when we are working with our customer's own red team or security department. We help them analyze their potetial risks by being the naysayer or more correctly the voice that plays the opposition, the adversary.

Good things usually happen after this. The teams engaged in this quite often find problems and solutions that would have been omitted had it not been for that 10th man.

The author closes with this:

At the very least, having a “10th man” accountable for challenging the common opinion would lead to invaluable discussion and the fleshing out of true opinions, possible problems, solutions, and more rigour behind decisions.

At the very least, it may save a product, a project, or your company, from becoming victim to undead, zombie-like “yes” men in your organization.

Very true.