Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

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Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

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Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

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 f

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Jason C. Howk

May 2, 2016 at 2:10 pm
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hard fought lessons created a new model, May 12, 2015
By 
Jason C. Howk
(REAL NAME)
  

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This review is from: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Hardcover)

Team of Teams offers insights into the modern practice of leadership and management required to navigate and succeed in this complex world. The book is not a military history, but instead a concise and exceptionally “fun to read” collection of insightful ideas told through entertaining stories ranging from industry to hospital emergency rooms. I recommend it for leaders and associates from all types of organizations who need to break down the effects of siloed teams in which information flow and decision making is ineffective in today’s increasingly complex environment. If you are working your teams harder and putting more resources against a problem that isn’t improving, READ this book and be prepared to look closely in the mirror.

The discussions in the book are grounded in organizational management theory and leadership methods, but along the way gives a once in a lifetime look at the inside of the most storied Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit in existence today. This is not a book about the latest way to become a great leader. In fact it’s about becoming the kind of senior leader that can develop and sustain an entire workforce of great leaders. The lessons the authors put forward to challenge the typical (and often failing) organizational models and leadership approaches were paid for in blood over the last decade.

I do not come at this review as a scholar of organizational management but rather as a participant and recipient of the Team of Teams approach in the military where I was a leader for over 20 years. I have known the author for more than 2 decades having served as a front line Soldier and leader in his unit and also as his assistant/confidante/advisor during his most senior command. Stan, along with his 3 co-authors, believes that the world is now so complex (vice complicated) that the old models of command and control are extinct. They are so passionate about this evolution that they have started a successful consulting firm to share their lessons. I have worked with 90 plus U.S. and international organizations in and out of government and I cannot think of one that would not benefit from this study.

An alternate title to this book might have been Trust and Purpose meets Empowered Execution. The Task Force’s journey towards shared consciousness and smart autonomy starts in 2003 with the stunning realization by the commander of the world’s most precise and lethal Counter-Terrorism Task Force that they were losing the strategic war against Al Qaeda. From there the authors interlace examples and case studies of organizational models, leadership techniques, and technological advances from a myriad of areas. They include weather forecasting, basketball and soccer, engineering marvels, big data, airline customer service, aircraft crews, NASA, SEAL training, plastic surgeons at the Boston Marathon bombing, GM versus Ford, MIT studies, and the enduring effects of Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom. My favorite example is the Star Wars bar comparison.

The discussions found in the various chapters of the book are wide-ranging but relevant to leading all organizations in this modern world. The following should be of interest to today’s leaders: the difference between complicated and complex environments; how having more information available does not improve prediction nor mean lead to smarter decisions at the top; Taylorisms and efficiency ideals may actually cost you more than they save; the ‘need to know’ fallacy; the value of using your best people as ‘liaison officers’ or ‘embeds’; how resilient people make organizations stronger because they can adapt to changing environments; learning from your adversary is time well spent–they might have a better organizational model not necessarily better people; how to delegate authority to take action until you are uncomfortable; how to build trust and a shared awareness of the big picture; ‘eyes on, hands off’ leadership; and the difference between creating Strategic Corporals and an organization full of Lord Horatio Nelsons.

The book carries you forward in time to see how far the Task Force had come by changing their culture, structure, and habits to allow the larger corporate command to become as agile and capable as its commandos. Pages 184-188 detail the successful operations that the “Task Force” were able to undertake after the shift. This short example, that covers just 46 minutes of a follow-on-target operation, highlights sharply the outcome of The Task Force’s investment in transparency, trust building and empowered execution. The command took risks and luckily their bosses supported them and let them learn to beat AQI at its own game.

Sir Lieutenant General Lamb, a close friend of Stan McChrystal, shared a paper with me once that he titled ‘In Command…

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WEW

May 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A must read for leaders of health care organizations, May 12, 2015
By 
WEW

This review is from: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Hardcover)
I am writing this review from the perspective of a surgeon in an administrative leadership role at a large health system in the Midwest. I have no military background but found the details of military operations in Iraq riveting. The book is extremely well-written and easy to read, even for the militarily naive. In Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General Stanley McChrystal does a masterful job of weaving war stories and business lessons into an instructional manual for business leaders today. He charges leaders to create organizations that are nimble, transparent, horizontal rather than hierarchical, and which empower their people to execute based on the concept of ‘shared consciousness’. Teach them and allow them to trust their gut and use their best judgement based on their training and knowledge of organizational goals. Just as the military needed to adapt to overcome the changing landscape of battle in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to be successful, so must organizations in the ever-changing landscape of corporate America. This book should be read by leaders of organizations both large and small so they can get the most out of their workforce and thrive in today’s ever-changing business climate.
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Rashad Badr

May 2, 2016 at 2:35 pm
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Essential Read for Leaders Hoping to Navigate Increasingly Complex World, May 12, 2015
By 

This review is from: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Hardcover)
Team of Teams is a fantastic read on navigating the complexities of today’s world using lessons learned from the best this nation has to offer. This book takes the reader on a journey that outlines the origins of modern management practices, with its traditional focus on efficiency and scientific management; reveals the shortcomings of this type of thinking in today’s increasingly complex world; and provides principles for effective leadership derived from lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To say that this book, however, is one derived from – and intended for – military endeavors would be to miss the point. Much of the content reflects a diverse treatment of management and analysis principles. For example, the authors’ treatment of traditional, efficiency-minded management practices is derived largely from a historical analysis of Frederick Taylor’s “The Principles of Scientific Management.” Taylor’s principles were born out of efforts to streamline the construction of hydraulic machinery and culminated in a widespread belief that “an effective enterprise is created by commitment to efficiency, and that the role of the manager is to break things apart and plan ‘the one best way'” (McChrystal et al., 46). His practices rapidly spread and, despite attacks on his treatment of individual workers, Taylor’s influence is still seen today in our understanding of business management and military discipline.

This book, however, presents a compelling interpretation of today’s world that calls for a fundamentally different approach to management and leadership. Whereas antiquated thinking would tell us that the complicated operations of business and military operations would eventually succumb to increasingly efficient operations, McChrystal and his team reveal a world that is complex and defies the predictions of familiar and comfortable thinking. Using works such as Friedrich Hayek’s “The Theory of Complex Phenomena” as well as examples drawn from ecological interventions and “Big Data” analyses, the authors illustrate with surprising clarity the complexity of the world we live in today.

McChrystal and his team articulate an approach to management that is built upon their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the collective experiences of other highly effective teams throughout history. “Empowered execution” is their response to today’s complex world, and their approach is detailed in both personal and historical examples throughout the second half of the book. Perhaps just as important is the book’s treatment of the characteristics and companions of empowered execution. Drawn from lessons learned in war, McChrystal and his team distill their experiences combating a dedicated adversary in an unprecedentedly complex environment into a series of principles that complement and support this new approach to management and leadership – principles that any leader wishing to advance their organization should read, reread, internalize, and implement.

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