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

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Leader’s Edge: Leadership

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

By General Stanley McChrystal

Penguin Publishing, 2015
304 Pages

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General Stanley McChrystal is a retired U.S. Army officer best known for his command of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) from 2003 to 2008. In this and other roles, he served as leader of the forces responsible for defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.  

Despite overwhelming superiority in manpower, training, equipment, funding and every other measurable resource, McChrystal found his forces essentially losing against Al-Qaeda’s effort to create terror and civil war in Iraq. After a most exacting analysis of all the relevant variables, McChrystal discovered that a key advantage for the terror group was their adaptability and quick response time in contrast to the ponderous war machine that was the JSOC command. Over about a two-year period, he created a “shared consciousness” among all the relevant U.S. participants, [FBI, CIA, NSA, Special Ops teams (Seals, Rangers…)] by creating a daily virtual briefing attended by some 7000 participants. Then, through granting more decision-making authority to the men on the field, the command was able to leverage their shared intelligence and dramatically increase the number of successful operations against the enemy. The ultimate result was the saving of many lives and a very significant reduction of terrorist acts in that war-torn country, essentially revolutionizing the organizational structure and procedures of a very large military organization.   

The author effectively explains how the digital and social media revolution has changed the organizational landscape of all organizations, and effectively elaborates on specifically how organizational structure and culture must adapt to that changed landscape. The lessons learned by McChrystal and his team are highly relevant to organizational cultures in education, business, Christian ministry, and other contexts.  

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