General Stan McChrystal and a Team of Teams

As is suitable for the season finale, I have a very special guest. I’m interviewing retired four-star general Stan McChrystal. Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat”.

McChrystal took command of an elite military organization, Joint Special Operations Task Force, and transformed it from a rigid hierarchy to a network of autonomous teams.

The teams were encouraged to act autonomously as long as their actions served the purpose and were not immoral or illegal. For such a high level of autonomy to function the organization had to start sharing data extensively in order to create a shared concisousness.

The story of the transformation is laid out in the book Team of Teams. What I especially love about the story is that it basically takes away all the excuses. If a military bureauacracy can transform itself to an agile network of teams, so can any business organization, no matter how large or traditional.

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