Team of Teams | Stanley McChrystal

Summary of: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
By: Stanley McChrystal


Welcome to the engaging summary of ‘Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World’ by Stanley McChrystal. Prepare to delve into the world of management strategies, where you’ll learn how the concept of teams is embracing change for better adaptability and informed decision-making. Throughout the summary, you will discover how New Rules of Engagement are transforming business management from a strict command structure to a more flexible team-based structure. We’ll explore the essential characteristics of effective teams, the importance of building multiple teams with shared purpose, and how empowering executives can enhance the decision-making process of an organization.

The Efficiency Fallacy

Efficiency is not a guarantee of success, and the rapid development of information technology in today’s complex world has made it even more unpredictable.

Efficiency has long been hailed as the holy grail of business and life in general. But, as this book suggests, it might not be the key to success anymore. The idea of scientific management, introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1900, was based on optimizing every step of the production process to save time and increase efficiency. Back then, it worked quite well. But, in today’s world, where technology develops at a rapid pace and every action can trigger unpredictable consequences, efficiency is not enough.

The book gives an example of Tarek, a man who set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest against police corruption. His cousin filmed it, posted it on YouTube, and it went viral. The video sparked protests in other countries in the Middle East and led to the fall of President Mubarak in Egypt. It was completely unpredictable, and no amount of efficiency could have foreseen it.

The idea of efficiency is deeply ingrained in our society, but it has become a fallacy. The book argues that we need to shift our focus from efficiency to adaptability and creativity. We need to embrace change and be prepared to take risks. The book offers insights and advice on how to navigate the unpredictable world we live in and succeed in it.

Overall, “The Efficiency Fallacy” is a thought-provoking read that challenges the conventional wisdom of efficiency and suggests a new way of thinking about success in the modern world.

Adaptability in a Complex World

The world today is complex, and threats can come from anywhere, making it challenging to prepare for every issue. While Winslow Taylor’s logic of building robust mechanisms can help, it is not enough. In a world where setbacks are unpredictable, adaptability is the key to survival. Modern organizations must be able to respond quickly to unexpected dangers or risk failing. A prime example of this is the American Task Force in Afghanistan, who had better resources than al-Qaeda in Iraq but couldn’t adapt to a war against an enemy without a clear hierarchical structure. As a result, they kept losing despite winning battles. Building more firepower failed when the enemy could regroup in a blink of an eye. Thus adaptability is the best protection against unpredictable threats in our complex world.

Power of Teams

Companies that operate as teams can overcome challenges better than individualistic organizations. Modern problems have become too complex for one person to handle. The importance of a team was exemplified in a plane crash in 1978 at Portland International Airport. The Crew Resource Management program was then introduced to build teams and, in 2009, a team was better able to handle the emergency landing on the Hudson River. Teams are structured differently from command structures and rely on shared purpose and experiences to build trust. This enables them to respond quickly in critical situations with a shared understanding of desirable outcomes, and specific actions each member must take to achieve that outcome.

Building Effective Teams

A company with more than 150 employees needs to build multiple teams to optimize effectiveness. These teams must work closely together, and the members need to trust and know each other well. The smaller teams need to understand the overall purpose and work processes of the other teams, so they can share information and work towards effective solutions. The structure of teams allows for quick, adaptable workflows, but it necessitates the exclusion of those outside the team. The author shares examples of what can go wrong when teams don’t understand each other, but effective organization and team-building can solve these issues.

The Power of Information Sharing

The right information is valuable, but traditional companies keep it a secret. The author argues for a more open approach to information sharing, which is crucial for decision-making under complex conditions. Lack of context can lead to decisions that benefit the team, but not the company as a whole. Sharing information ensures that everyone has a shared understanding of the overall context, which leads to better decision-making. The author’s experience leading the American Task Force in Iraq illustrates the importance of information sharing, and how it can be done effectively. With open access to information, there is no wasted information.

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