Team of Teams is a guidebook for combining rigid military command with the agility, adaptability and cohesion of smaller teams based on the experience of organizational change enacted by General Stanley McChrystal in JSOTF Iraq
Team of Teams Summary
Team of Teams is a comprehensive overview of how silo-scientific management can be transformed to respond to the challenges of the modern world.
Using examples from military history, contemporary business and his experience in Iraq, General Stanley McCrystal walks through how to achieve transformative change and the benefits that arise from organizations working as a Team of Teams rather than in a command and control structure.
Below are some of the key insights from the book.
- Technological change has reshaped warfare and modern business in ways that transform complicated CEME structures into complex non-CEME ecosystems.
- In many of these modern environments, the ability to win is determined by an approach to management rather than resources, discipline or execution.
- The inherent complexity and unpredictability of the modern environment makes orthodox scientific command and control management (Adam Smith, Ford, GM) redundant like a football team coached to execute plays.
- In such circumstances, it is important to build cultural resilience rather than focus on operational efficiency.
- To build resilience requires leaders to build trust and shared purpose similar to aviation pilots and medical emergency rooms.
- In large organizations like the USAF, a command of teams approach is often used but this is still too rigid when fighting a smaller more agile force. Consequently, a Team of Teams approach as used by NASA became best practice.
- The end goal of such a system is shared consciousness but this often faces organizational (e.g. Wikileaks) and cultural (e.g. Liaison) objections that must be overcome.
- To overcome this, transparency and knowledge sharing are paramount.
- A Team of Teams must be able to collectively solve the internal Prisoners Dilemma where cooperation is seen as Nash Equilibrium self interest.
- Traditionally control follows technological ability to communicate (e.g. Commodore Perry vs. Ulysses Grant) but for a Team of Teams to work it must be used as “Eyes-on, Hands off”
- As such leaders must learn to be gardiners rather than chess grandmasters, enabling the right conditions for growth rather than attempting to mastermind execution.
- Where a Team-of-Teams approach delivers considerable efficiency and effectiveness gains it does so by disrupting existing mental models about what is possible and what organizations look like in essence.
- In the future, mental models must continue to be reformed in line with emergent technologies (e.g. self driving cars, automation, blockchain) in order to continually develop an approach to learning.