A tiger team is a diversified group of experts brought together for a single project, need, or event. They are usually assigned to investigate, solve, build, or recommend possible solutions to unique situations or problems. They are almost always populated with mature experts who know what's at stake, what needs to be done, and how to work well with others. Their strengths are diversity of knowledge, a single focus or purpose, cross-functional communications, decision-making sovereignty, and organizational agility. Once their venture is completed they cease to be a team and usually go back to their previous assignments.
The metaphor of a tiger comes from the power and agility of the teams. There are no limits to their size, reasons, or purpose parameters. They may be assigned to locate new knowledge sources, create an impactful event, or form an exit plan. The scope of their work may be very large or very small. They may be a team for a few days, or for many years. They may meet regularly, frequently, intermittently, or rarely.
The concept originally came out of early NASA innovations for solving technical or systemic problems. A 1964 paper defined the term as "a team of undomesticated and uninhibited technical specialists, selected for their experience, energy, and imagination, and assigned to track down relentlessly every possible source of failure in a spacecraft subsystem."
In security work, a tiger team is a specialized group that tests an organization's ability to protect its assets by attempting to circumvent, defeat, or otherwise thwart that organization's internal and external security. In this context, the tiger team is often created to work in perpetuity, as opposed to for a singular event, since security is typically an on-going effort in an organization. For example, one implementation of an information security tiger team approach divides the team into two co-operating groups: one for vulnerability research, which primarily finds and researches the technical aspects of a vulnerability, and one for vulnerability management, which primarily manages communication and feedback between the team and the organization, as well as ensuring each discovered vulnerability is tracked throughout its life-cycle and ultimately resolved.
- The NSA Cyber Defense Tiger Team (Red Cell) is a tiger team that was created by the National Security Agency
- The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), when requested by a project or program, puts together "tiger teams" of engineers and scientists from multiple NASA centers to assist solving a difficult or complex problem.
- The Gray Team, which existed from 2009-2011, was tasked with improving the medical care of American forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially from Post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
- Red team
- Penetration test
- Red Cell US Navy SEAL Tiger Team
- Sneakers (1992)
- Tiger Team television show on Court TV (TruTV)
- Tiger kidnappings, performed by criminal squads called tiger teams
- Miller, Marilyn; Armon, Rick (June 6, 2016). "University of Akron announces new "Tiger Team" to address enrollment slide, finances, leadership issues". Akron Beacon Journal. Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
- Wheelwright, Kim B. Clark Steven C. "Organizing and Leading "Heavyweight" Development Teams." California Management Review (1992). p 13-14
- J. R. Dempsey, W. A. Davis, A. S. Crossfield, and Walter C. Williams, "Program Management in Design and Development," in Third Annual Aerospace Reliability and Maintainability Conference, Society of Automotive Engineers, 1964, p. 7–8.
- Laakso, Marko; Takanen, Ari; Röning, Juha (1999). "The vulnerability process: a tiger team approach to resolving vulnerability cases". Proc. 11th FIRST Conf. Computer Security Incident Handling and Response. Brisbane, Australia: CiteSeerX: 1–2,6. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
- "Cyber Defense Exercise 2008 - NSA Video Transcripts - NSA/CSS". Nsa.gov. 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
- "Benefits of a One NASA Organization in Solving Program and Project Technical Issues". Lessons Learned. NASA. 2004-05-07. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Hamilton, Jon. "How A Team Of Elite Doctors Changed The Military's Stance On Brain Trauma". NPR. All Things Considered, NPR. Retrieved 23 August 2016.