Red Teaming and Other War Gaming for Business: Fred Aubin

Lieutenant-Colonel (retd) Fred Aubin, CD, MCGI, is Founder and CEO of Strategic Red Team Consulting, and is based in Ottawa, Canada.

A 34 year command-level combat veteran of the Canadian Forces, Fred leads a consultancy team with an extensive arsenal of expertise for what he calls, “The Corporate Battlefield”. Fred has commanded everything from specialized strategic advisory teams of 20 to large multi-disciplinary task forces of 600, both at home in Canada and abroad in harm’s way. He was a highly experienced strategic planner in the Canadian Department of National Defence and has designed, managed and coordinated business plans, transformational “change management” campaigns and corporate level strategies with values in the billions of dollars.

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Red Teaming and How it Helps Business

Fred explained that on leaving the military several years before he had seen – in comparison with what he was used to in the military – a gap in business operations, in terms of planning and especially business simulations, including such things as decision support simulation, war gaming and red teaming. Hence the focus of his consulting to business and government in the intervening years.

Red Teaming is a branch of war gaming.

There are many books on war gaming for business. See below for Fred’s specially recommended ones and other sources of information on the subject. For a one page synopsis, see this page on Fred’s website.

There are three types of war gaming, with same basic elements, different outcomes:

  • Course of Action War Gaming
  • Rehearsal War Gaming
  • Red Team Exercise

Course of Action War Gaming

A series of at least two, possibly more, sequential and comparable war games. Used in plan development stage to determine the most viable options in terms of the various factors to be considered, such as risk, execution and payoff.

Rehearsal War Gaming

When the course of action has been established, when you are getting ready to act, but “haven’t thrown the switch yet”. A rehearsal process, with all the key actors, prior to the plan’s execution. To “reduce risk by turning hindsight into foresight”.

Red Team War Gaming

Red team war gaming is not entry level. Where it happens it is a capstone exercise that follows course of action war gaming and rehearsal war gaming.

The Red Team exercise is similar to the Rehearsal war game, with the exception that ideally, the red team members are not drawn from the organization’s stakeholders. Each red team member is a subject specialist and is only given the amount of information about the organization that a normal competitor would have. Their task is to put the organization’s plan under “extreme competitive stress”.

The whole idea is you reduce risk by turning hindsight into foresight, turning individual knowledge into collective knowledge.

A Hack for Economy with Effectiveness

In the conversation, Fred explains the ideal composition of the Red team in a Red Teaming exercise. He also provides an option for corporates wanting a more economical setup without prejudicing effectiveness (find this at or about 22 min 35 sec into the episode, just after the music-backed interlude).

Recommended Books

Business War Games: How Large, Small, and New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies and Outmaneuver the Competition by Benjamin Gilad
Wargaming for Leaders: Strategic Decision Making from the Battlefield to the Boardroom by Mark Hermon, Kark Frost and Raymond Kurz

Another Resource

Fred recommended looking for military publications, especially the Joint Operational Planning Process (“the JOPP”) by the military in various countries. I went looking online and quickly found various documents in the public domain, such as this in the US, this in Australia, and this in the UK.

More about Fred and Contact Details

A firm believer in the principle that “all strategic issues are leadership issues”, Fred has been used extensively in executive leadership consultancy and strategic planning capacity building portfolios at Head of State, Ministerial, Ambassadorial, CEO and Senior Executive levels in Canada, Africa and Afghanistan. He holds a Masters in Military Technology from the Royal Military College of Science in Shrivenham, a Baccalaureate of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Ottawa, and is a graduate of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College Kingston, the UK’s Joint Command and Staff College and the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

And as I’ve learnt from a number of extended conversations, Fred is a fund of information and wisdom about leadership.

Contacting Fred

If you think Fred and his team can help your company, organisation, government agency, get in touch with him, have a chat. If my experience is anything to go by, you will at least come away from a conversation with Fred knowing something new, or seeing something with a fresh perspective. Make contact with Fred through the website for Strategic Red Team Consulting at this link: http://stratredteam.com

And follow Fred on Twitter: @FM_Aubin

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Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from Coachville.com and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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