Red Team vs. Blue Team on Zoom
Ask some members of your group to change their names to designate them as Red Team. It will be their job to play devil’s advocates to your plans, coming up with ways to sabotage them, point out their flaws, or highlight their vulnerabilities. The rest of the group, as Blue Team, is tasked with responding to these issues.
- With a current plan tentatively chosen, designate some participants to be on the Red Team. Choose less than half of your group, and pick Red Team members either by random, or based on roles, knowledge, or attributes that are germane to the current plan.
- Ask the Red Team members to change their Zoom name to make it easy to spot them. (e.g., add “[R]” at the beginning, or include a red emoji like 🚩). Inform them that it is their job to argue against the current plans, pointing out any pitfalls, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or shortcomings.
- Optionally, give the Red Team time in a breakout room to discuss the current plans privately, putting their minds together to figure out the best lines of attack before engaging with the rest of the group (the Blue Team).
- Check in for questions or clarifications.
- Call on Red Team members to point out a weakness in the current plans, then ask the Blue Team to address the weakness, ideally to the Red Team’s satisfaction, or until the Red Team is no longer able to counter.
- Repeat step 5 until the Red Team runs out of pitfalls to highlight, or you’ve lost faith in the current plans because the Red Team has surfaced an issue the Blue Team wasn’t able to address.
If you’re planning on giving the Red Team a breakout room to discuss their counter-plans, have something planned to occupy the Blue Team during this time.
Empowering members of your group to sabotage, undermine, or otherwise push back against your current plans is helpful to avoid groupthink, or the feeling that if someone is skeptical about a plan they’re not supportive of the overall goals.
However, it can get heated, as people will sometimes really lean into these roles. As the facilitator, if you notice temperaments rising, regularly remind people that this is a simulation, you’re all ultimately on the same team, and the Red Team doing this prodding in service of your goals.
Choosing solid Red Team members will make or break this activity. Try to select a small group with ample knowledge of the current plans and context, institutional/in-group expertise, and a logical/strategic mindset. If the Red Team doesn’t have much, rotating team members from Blue to Red can help expose new vulnerabilities.
If you're using apps other than Zoom, here are the specific things your software will need to be able to do:
Zoom allows participants to change their name and the facilitator to create breakout rooms.