Hands up if you have either designed or been required to launch a diversity program. Has diversity improved?
Business needs compelling reasons to be diverse. Red Teaming is as compelling reason as you will currently find when all the arguments about how important it is to have diversity of thought seem to fail. Red Teaming is creeping into business from the military and it doesn’t just benefit from diversity, it utterly and completely needs it, or it will not succeed.
Bryce G. Hoffman’s excellent book, Red Teaming, is a thorough treatise on this technique which is essentially an opportunity for contrary thinking, devil’s advocacy, smashing through biases and every way of seeming to swim against the tide. Red Teams study a proposal or plan to find out how it might fail, or how it could succeed; they find the holes in the logic. They are that voice in the room that, as HR people, we are sometimes asked to discipline for being disruptive, not a team-player, but not anymore, contrarians are exactly what we are looking to hire.
To build a Red Team you need plenty of candidates to choose from and hiring the same type of person over and over again isn’t going to help. HR can do the same or they can role model diversity hiring. We can work with eager managers and design programs with them rather than for them. Their programs. Their hires. Their success.
But, what about those who want to hire clones of themselves? How do you get them to hire blind? That’s it exactly, you work with them on selecting for the characteristics of a red teamer:
As the HR lead, you design questions to explore these capabilities; commission objective tests to establish this is who they are and then, like lab rats almost, you lay them out:
Strong – Intelligence
Weak – Imagination
Then you help the leader select the best candidate from the short-list you have assembled.
The managers will always need to meet the candidates and you can’t block all their biases but if you can get the final candidates to match the criteria then you are objectively determining fit for the team rather than the buddy system.
However, remember that the Red Teamers themselves can easily be clones of each other based on the criteria but the chances of you finding exactly similar matches to the skills list are low. Some will be more intelligent, some more creative, key requirements are an open mind and self-confidence otherwise they will struggle to function within this type of team.
But, if the leaders aren’t ready for what the Red Teamers have to say to them, then no amount of clever selection will help. Leaders have to work to build confidence within the Red Team that they will be heard. Their voices combined with effective leadership will take the company from disrupted to disruptor!
Susan Anthony, CPHR, PMP, MSc Project Management, BSc Computer Studies will be bringing her deep knowledge of Project Management to our upcoming HR Undefined conference, April 10 and 11, where she will be speaking on the topic, What is Scrum and how can I apply it to HR? Her book, Scrum and Simplification A Manual for Cats, will be available through the conference bookseller and is also available through Amazon.com.