(Article Originally Appearing on Forbes.com, June 10, 2017. Author: Bryce Hoffman)
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt this week called for the establishment of a red team to help settle the public debate over carbon emissions and climate change once and for all.
That is something both sides should not only welcome, but aggressively support if they really have the courage of their convictions.
“What the American people deserve, I think, is a true legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2. And, you know there was a great article that was in the Wall Street Journal, about a month or so ago, Joel, called ‘Red Team/Blue Team’ by Steve Koonin, a scientist I believe at NYU,” Pruitt told Breitbart’s Joel Pollak. “(Koonin) talked about the importance of having a red team of scientist and a blue team of scientists and those scientists get in a room and ask what do we know, what don’t we know, and what risk does it pose to health, the United States, and the world with respect to this issue of CO2.
Red Team/Blue Team Analysis, or “Us versus Them Analysis” as I call it in my new book Red Teaming, is one of the most powerful techniques in the red teaming toolkit. It is designed to test two competing ideas, positions or proposals and determine which one is the strongest.
Though time-consuming, the process it relatively simple. It works like this:
1. Create two teams (Red and Blue), and ask each of them to work independently to make the strongest case possible for their position.
2. When both sides have completed their analysis, or after they have used up their allotted time to do so, have each team present its findings to an impartial jury.
3. Allow the jury to question each team’s findings before endorsing the position of the team that presented the most compelling argument supported by the best evidence.
Businesses can use this approach to evaluate two competing proposals, two courses of action or two different investment or acquisition targets.
The Pentagon pioneered this method in the early 1960s.
When Robert McNamara was appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1961, the Air Force and the Navy were locked in a bitter acquisition battle over a new supersonic fighter-bomber. Both wanted a jet with two engines and the ability to carry heavy munition loads, but they could agree on little else.
McNamara decided to pursue a compromise that could meet the needs of both services, so he had a list of requirements drawn up and put it out to bid. Most of the big aircraft manufacturers submitted proposals, and the Pentagon group set up to evaluate the competing bids chose the one from Boeing because it was cheaper. But McNamara overruled them and selected General Dynamics’ design, arguing that it better addressed the needs of both services.
Boeing was not happy with that decision and appealed to its friends in Washington. A Congressional investigation was launched, and McNamara realized he would be forced to defend his decision publicly. So, he created one of the Pentagon’s first red team
“(T)he Defense Secretary became so concerned over his action that he appointed two teams of ‘fact-finders:’ the Blue Team to find he was right about tossing the super-plum to General Dynamics; the Red Team to find that he was wrong about not throwing it to Boeing,” reported George Dixon in his syndicated “Washington Scene” column in May 1963. “McNamara must have steeped himself in the classics. He called members of his Red Team ‘Devil’s Advocates.’”
Their task, according to the Red Team leader was, “to put together a case for Boeing — a kind of Devil’s Advocate — to assure that all possible challenges to the Defense Secretary’s position were anticipated.”
Apparently, it worked. General Dynamics kept the contract and produced the prototype for the plane that would become the F-111 Aardvark.
The same approach could help resolve the present climate debate, too, by providing both sides a public forum in which to make their best case supported by scientific evidence — but only if this red teaming analysis is pursued openly, honestly and impartially. And only if the jury is truly impartial.
Pruitt says that’s what he wants.
“The American people need to have that type of honest open discussion, and it’s something we hope to provide as part of our leadership,” he said.
Now, let’s see if he delivers.
Find out how Red Teaming can help you business conquer the competition by challenging everything