Red teaming is a practice as old as the role of the Devil’s Advocate, the eleventh-century Vatican official charged with discrediting candidates for sainthood. Today, red teams—comprised primarily of fearless skeptics and those assuming the role of saboteurs who seek to better understand the interests, intentions, and capabilities of institutions or potential competitors—are used widely in both the public and private sector. Red teaming, including simulations, vulnerability probes, and alternative analyses, helps institutions in competitive environments identify weaknesses, challenge assumptions, and anticipate potential threats ahead of the next special operations raid, malicious cyberattack, or corporate merger. But not all red teams are created equal; indeed, some cause more damage than they prevent.
In Red Team, CFR Senior Fellow Micah Zenko provides an in-depth investigation into the work of red teams, revealing the best practices, most common pitfalls, and most effective applications of these modern-day devil's advocates. The best practices of red teaming can be applied to the Central Intelligence Agency, New York Police Department, or a pharmaceutical company, and executed correctly they can yield impressive results: red teams give businesses an edge over their competition, poke holes in vital intelligence estimates, and troubleshoot dangerous military missions long before boots are on the ground. But red teams are only as good as leaders allow them to be, and Zenko shows not only how to create and empower red teams, but also what to do with the information they produce.
Essential reading for business leaders and policymakers alike, Red Team will revolutionize the way organizations think about, exploit, compensate for, and correct their institutional strengths and weaknesses. Drawing on little-known case studies and unprecedented access to elite red teamers in the United States and abroad, Zenko shows how any group—from military units to friendly hackers—can win by thinking like the enemy.
A Council on Foreign Relations Book