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Summary of Team of Teams 

Short summary

Small groups find it easier to maneuver and adapt to the conditions of a changing environment, unlike big structures that operate under one approved plan. Decentralization, downward decision-making, and the leader, who creates the conditions for others to benefit from, are core strategies for companies to be successful today. General Stanley McChrystal, a Commander of Joint Operations Special Command, offers his readers several insights that underlie the massive transformation of how organizations should work. Influenced by the resilience of insurgent terrorists in Iraq, McChrystal felt the urge to revise how things were done in his organization. In this book, he proposes a number of oppositions that describe a drastic difference between the way things used to be done and how they should be done today: efficiency is replaced by effectiveness, robustness by resilience, precision by agility, and a mechanical view of the world by an organic one. Team of Teams accounts for how a large and seemingly unwieldy structure of the U.S. military underwent a radical transformation to become better. It sets an example for different organizations worldwide that change is not burdensome but very much timely and welcome.

Key points


Environments are changing; you should too

The Joint Special Operations Task Force, or the Task Force (TF), had to undergo a significant change during the Iraq War. In 2003, it felt that it had no experience fighting in the conditions of the new environment.

The newness lay in the increased speed of communication and networking and the enemy's ability to adjust goals partway through. However, the U.S. Army was more used to exhaustive drills and planning. It was not ready, however, to be agile and maneuverable.
The digital era commands that we become more maneuverable, agile, and flexible in our decisions and situation assessment.
Based on the process of adaptation to these new conditions, a group of like-minded professionals from the military and academia came up with important implications for all organizations:
• In Iraq, the Al Qaeda (AQI) men were not superheroes, usually appeared understaffed, and lacked resources. Nevertheless, they were resilient in strategies and adaptation but too categorical in their minds. They made better use of 21-century tools.Environments evolve, and so should our strategies of working with and within them. What worked for our ancestors is not suitable anymore.

The book is not an account of the war. It is how wartime strategies can facilitate adaptation for the challenges companies of different scales face today.

In the 21st century, learn to adapt fast as being efficient is not enough

The Task Force was an organization made of different smaller ones and contained only the top military and special operations units. It had over 40 years of experience, with skills at the level of mastery. However, the TF’s ways didn’t seem to work when fighting the terrorist group, even though the AQI’s preparation, resources, and knowledge ceded to the TF. In theory, the TF defeating the AQI was just a matter of time. Later, General McChrystal learned why it was a much more difficult task.
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Advances in information technology made the world less predictable


To keep up with changes, choose to be resilient and effective


Hierarchies are becoming obsolete, whereas intersection points make smaller units into one large team


Performing your usual tasks, venture to see the bigger picture and opt for transparency


Choose what is right for you and good for the group


Not superior to other team members, a leader should create a conducive environment for their employees to grow



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