Team of Teams: New rules of engagement for a complex world

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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 huge organization?


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, and then seemingly disappear into the local population. The Allied forces had a great advantage in numbers, equipment, and training-but none of that seemed significant.

It's no secret that small teams in every area have many advantages – they can respond quickly, communicate freely and make decisions without bureaucracy. But organizations are getting involved Really Big challenges can not fit in a garage. They need management practices that are scalable 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 take over the enemy's speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world's most powerful military with the agility of the world's most frightening terror network? If so, could the same principles apply in civil organizations?

A new approach to a new world
McChrystal and his colleagues abandoned a century of conventional wisdom and turned the task force into something new in the midst of a grueling war: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making power. The walls between the silos were demolished. The leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to extend them to thousands of people across three continents, using technology to create a unity that would have been impossible a decade ago. The task force became a "team of teams" – faster, flatter, more flexible – and beat al-Qaida back.

Beyond the battlefield

In this powerful book, McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges in Iraq can be relevant to countless companies, nonprofits, and other organizations. The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest answer for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while getting everyone to share what they've learned throughout the organization. As the authors argue with convincing examples, the strategy of team teams has worked everywhere, from hospital emergency rooms to NASA. It has the potential to transform big and small organizations


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