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Every week a business school professor, an expert in his or her field, defines a key term on FT Lexicon, our online economics, business and finance glossary.
Our professor this week
Paul Bracken is professor of management at the Yale School of Management. He is a leading expert in global competition in business and defence. His research and teaching focus on helping senior management deal with changing business environments under conditions of intense uncertainty. At Yale he co-teaches the MBA core course on problem framing and also teaches a popular lecture course on strategy and technology in Yale College.
In 2012, Prof Bracken was named as one of the best 300 professors in the US by the Princeton Review one of only two Yale faculty on the list. He leads executive education programmes around the world, bringing together practical and academic perspectives and is a consultant to private equity funds, accounting and insurance companies as well as several arms of the US government.
Prof Bracken often leads business war games for companies facing complex new problems. He has led games on the future of European asset management, US financial services re-regulation and strategies of technological competition with China.
Prof Bracken obtained his doctorate in operations research from Yale University and his undergraduate degree in engineering from Columbia University. Before joining the Yale faculty he was on the senior staff of the Hudson Institute where he directed its management consulting subsidiary.
His recent books include The Second Nuclear Age and Managing Strategic Surprise: Lessons From Risk Management, co-edited with Ian Bremmer and David Gordon.
Prof Bracken has chosen to define the term red team
Why Prof Bracken thinks it is important to understand red team
Prof Bracken believes that what he calls “average thinking” – defining a problem in terms of the way it has been handled in the past – can be extremely dangerous. “Yet it is almost completely overlooked in most theories and courses on risk management,” says Prof Bracken.
“Red teams reframe a problem,” he says, adding that they help prevent a company being fooled into thinking that it knows the one best way to proceed. He points out that this approach to framing a problem comes from earlier approaches that may now be inappropriate or biased, or not examined for current conditions.
In contrast, he says, red teams are one of a several methods used by the military and government for higher level, integrated thinking. “Scenarios, environmental scanning, business war gaming and alternative futures stretch the corporate imagination beyond the immediate problems of the moment.”
To view a definition of red team, click on the hyperlinked term.