Monday, February 24, 2014

Peer review... Red team

Your baby is ugly!

Ooops! Did I say that?

Sorry! Peer review is very powerful, and cheap/easy to implement, though it takes a bit of discipline and a caution because calling the other person's baby ugly is not suave.

So, some nuance is required. Some projects call this "red teaming", and then for larger efforts there are other colors to denote several sequential teams at different maturities... red, then gold, etc recognizing things improve with each review.

Family Tree
Note: there are lots of project reviews that fall in this peer review category, and they go by a myriad of names, each with their own culture, protocols, standards, deliverables, etc:
  • Proposal reviews
  • Peer reviews (papers, presentations, documents)
  • PDR -- preliminary design review
  • CDR -- critical design review
  • Pair programming
  • Verification and validation
  • Others...
To be efficient, appoint a red team leader; then run the red team like any other project -- scope, schedule, deliverables, etc. It's best to have a standing review team for each project the team reviews so as to not invent the wheel with each review.

Reviewers are usually assigned to review according to areas of expertise. And, here's a point sometimes overlooked:  protocols re whether the peer review has any power of veto or enforcement over or about the product/device/object/document under review. And if they do, then provide an appeal or escalation process/work flow.

Did I mention privacy? Red teams can't do their work in a fish bowl.

Now the hard part is to avoid "not invented here" (NIH) bias on the part of the red team. In the shoe were on the other foot, that is: if the reviewer were the designer and not the reviewer, then the whole thing might have been done differently; and some other reviewer would then be red teaming.

So the point is: if you are red teaming, put your NIH hat away and look objectively as you would like others to look at your work objectively.

Then the exit interview with the designer/owner -- perhaps not the most fun thing. But if you want to win in the market, the product/service/proposal has to be the best possible... so the red team has a job to do and "it's not personal" (even though sometimes it is).

Read in the library at Square Peg Consulting about these books I've written
Buy them at any online book retailer!
Read my contribution to the Flashblog