You met the Jaunty Man in Red Teaming Law #1. He’s confident, smug, and often quite persuasive. He has a knack for dismissing the call for red teaming and frequently turns it back against the initiator, subtly calling into question the initiator’s judgment. On top of that, he’s right more often than he’s wrong, and even when he’s wrong, he can persuade many that he was actually right.
Here, then, are some of the sayings of the Jaunty Man. If you want to be a real red teamer, learn them and learn how and when to respond. Learn when to push back and when to step aside. (If you never step aside, you will soon become a nuisance and eventually lose all credibility.) In short, learn the Jaunty Man’s bag of tricks without becoming a Jaunty Man yourself. Put another way, be as subtle as the Jaunty Man while maintaining your integrity, skepticism, and humility.
(Some of) the Sayings:
- “We’re doing everything possible already. Asking us to do more only distracts us from our mission.”
- “Our adversaries are disorganized and feckless. Why would we want to spend time red teaming them?”
- “What adversaries?”
- [Silence; the Jaunty Man ignores you.]
- [With good humor and a jaunty smile:] “Oh no, not again! When are you going to let us get on with the real work?!” [Laughter.]
- “You call them adversaries, but in reality they want to work with us. They’re not our adversaries. Calling them adversaries generates unnecessary ill will.”
- “There are many more important things to do. Like this, for example, or this … “
- “We’re prepared for anything.”
- “We’re too busy already.”
- “That’s too sensitive to talk about.”
- “Don’t be an alarmist.”
- “We see the big picture; you don’t.”
- “You don’t understand …
… what’s really happening.
… the dynamics at play.
… what’s at stake.
… the real facts behind the case.”
- “Everything is under control and unfolding per our plan.”
- “That’s certainly not what the experts say!”
- “C’mon, why can’t you be a team player? You’re just slowing us down.”
- “Why didn’t you bring this up when we were planning our strategy? To raise it now is just mean-spirited.”
- “It’s time to decide and act. The time for thinking and studying has long passed.”
- “Talking about our weaknesses will only sap morale. It’s counterproductive.”
- “We don’t have the time or money to red team.”
- “We’ve red teamed already. Why would we want to do it again?”
- “This same situation came up before, and nothing happened then.”
- “You might be right, but this other good thing thing takes precedence.”
- “Great idea! You take charge of it and make it happen.” [Followed by repeated though subtle dismissals.]