Plan More Effectively With The ‘Tenth Man Rule’

Plan More Effectively With The ‘Tenth Man Rule’
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, hacks and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Lifehacker Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a fix.

When it comes to planning, you want to have every aspect covered. The “tenth man rule” has someone play the part of contrarian to make it even more effective.

Photo by Michael Coghlan

No plan is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to plug as many holes as you can. The “tenth man rule” works the same way as companies hiring people to find weaknesses in their systems and security. Instead of a company, you’re asking someone to deliberately point out what might not work in whatever plans you’re putting together. Matthew Sharp at ITS Tactical explains:

…if nine people completely agree that a strategy or plan is correct, then the tenth person should take a contrarian view to avoid the pitfalls of groupthink, where fatal flaws in a strategy are missed in favour of group agreement… If, in life, you’re deciding whether to move to a new place, take a new career path, or make some other major decision, come up with a plan based on your observations and intelligence gathering. However, before you act on that information, have an outsider examine your plans.

Using your inner contrarian can be a powerful tool, but sometimes someone on the outside can identify problems a lot easier. You can use the “tenth man rule” in any situation you like when you’re planning too; you don’t actually need ten people.

Planning a road trip with a couple friends? Assign someone the job of “tenth man”.Getting ready to make a big life decision? Ask someone you trust to be your personal “tenth man” and poke holes in it. Effective planning comes down to strategy and reiteration. Keep finding and plugging holes until your plan is rock solid.

Red Teaming and the Adversarial Mindset: Have a Plan, Backup Plan, and Escape Plan [ITS Tactical]


  • Oooh, I need to start calling it the ‘tenth man’ from now on. That’s much messaging than what people currently call it when I do that: ‘Devil’s Advocate’.

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!