Team of Teams

Team of Teams

New Rules of Engagement for A Complex World

eBook - 2015
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What if you could combine the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant organization? THE OLD RULES NO LONGER APPLY . . . When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, he quickly realized that conventional military tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. The allied forces had a huge advantage in numbers, equipment, and training—but none of that seemed to matter.TEACHING A LEVIATHAN TO IMPROVISE It's no secret that in any field, small teams have many ad­vantages—they can respond quickly, communicate freely, and make decisions without layers of bureaucracy. But organizations taking on really big challenges can't fit in a garage. They need management practices that can scale to thousands of people. General McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disci­plined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy's speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world's mightiest military with the agility of the world's most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations?A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW WORLD McChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to ex­tend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a "team of teams"—faster, flatter, more flex­ible—and beat back Al Qaeda. BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD In this powerful book, McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to countless businesses, nonprofits, and other or­ganizations. The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest response for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while driving every­one to share what they learn across the entire organiza­tion. As the authors argue through compelling examples, the team of teams strategy has worked everywhere from hospital emergency rooms to NASA. It has the potential to transform organizations large and small.From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: 2015
ISBN: 9780698178519
Branch Call Number: E-Book
Characteristics: data file
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mikemarotta
Mar 03, 2018

An enjoyable, erudite read, Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal was written by a general for generals. McChrystal takes his time to make his points. He presents cogent evidence to support his assertions, but those would be easy enough to accept on the basis of his authority. His education and experience made him an expert. From 2003-2008 he was in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command that was responsible for defeating the insurgency of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and neutralizing its leadership, including the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In order to achieve that, McChrystal had to reconfigure the way the Army usually operated.

The transformation was radical for the military, but familiar to the private sector. Information could not be held in organizational “silos” on a need-to-know basis. The office layout, while allowing adequate personal space, had to be open so that people could talk across desks, across islands of information and authority. This was only way that the allied joint forces could defeat AQI, which was decentralized, resilient, adaptable, flexible, and driven by the media of information exchange from the cellphone to the international news website.

The coordinating theme is the balance and integration of shared consciousness and empowered execution. Shared consciousness includes the physical perceptions brought in from information assets, either directly from soldiers in the field or indirectly from informants or remote sensors. It also includes the philosophy of the mission, an agreement on doctrine and rules of engagement. Given that, empowered execution allows those closest to a problem – taking a house or killing an enemy leader—to solve it in real time.

Early on, McChrystal establishes a baseline that he returns to repeatedly throughout the book. Frederick Winslow Taylor’s efficient organization defined not just the methods of production or the layout of the office, but the fundamental doctrinal premise of a civilization for 100 years. Taylorist thinking led to the impenetrable (but immovable) Maginot Line that aircraft flew over. The coalition forces defeated Saddam Hussein because both sides were fighting the previous war. The Iraqi insurgency demanded new habits from new learning. It was time to take everyone’s brains out of their footlockers and put them all to work thinking, discussing, planning, and criticizing.

Chapter 10 “Hands off” contrasts the experiences of Commodore Matthew Perry and Gen. Ulysses Grant. Perry was on his own, over 6,000 miles from home. He had total control and no oversight. On the other hand, Grant issued meticulously detailed orders to his generals. McChrystal’s world was a strange mix of the two. While he enjoyed complete information input from assets in the field, soldiers, helicopters, and drones, he also insisted on letting the leaders on the ground make their own decisions, knowing, of course, that they were not alone at all.

McChrystal completed a master of science in International Relations from Salve Regina University. He has company. Maj. Gen. James W. Nuttall deputy director of the Army National Guard earned an MA at SRU. Gen. Peter Chiarelli completed an MA in national security strategy at SRU after earning an MPA from the University of Washington. After finishing a master's at Salve Regina, Gen. Anthony Zinni (USMC) earned another master's from Central Michigan University.

Perhaps making too much of his outside-the-box thinking, it is interesting to note that Gen. McChrystal recommended "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court" for Admiral James Stavridis’s anthology, "The Leader’s Bookshelf."

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