Team of Teams Book Summary - Team of Teams Book explained in key points
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General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussel

New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

4.4 (162 ratings)
20 mins
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    Team of Teams
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    In our complex world, efficiency shouldn’t be the ultimate goal.

    No matter what your job, the concept of efficiency won’t be new to you. In fact, you probably use it even when you’re just arranging your pencils on a desk!

    Efficiency is widely recognized as something worth achieving, and most of today’s organizations have set efficiency as their principal goal.

    Even outside of business, our society is obsessed with efficiency. From organizing our leisure time and life hacks to the management of international companies, everyone is trying to achieve the best results with the least effort; in other words, they want to be as efficient as possible.

    Our love for efficiency can be traced back to 1900, when Quaker Frederick Winslow Taylor laid the foundations of scientific management. By measuring various work processes in order to shave off every second he could throughout the production process, Taylor produced unprecedented results.  

    But in a complex world, efficiency does not equal success.

    The rapid development of information technology has changed the world we live in. Not only has it become much faster, but also more interdependent, meaning that a seemingly endless number of factors interact to produce highly unpredictable outcomes.

    Much like the theory that a butterfly’s wings in New York can start a hurricane in China, a YouTube video can start a revolution. In 2010, a man named Tarek protested police corruption in a small town in Tunisia by setting himself aflame. His cousin, who filmed the whole thing, posted it on YouTube where it was seen by millions of people.

    These people then started their own protests, which eventually led to the end of the 30-year reign of President Mubarak in neighboring Egypt. This outcome was entirely unpredictable at the time of Tarek’s protest.

    Taylor’s scientific management was designed for a world where an all-seeing manager could more or less accurately predict the outcomes of a given action. As our example shows, things are very different today.

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    What is Team of Teams about?

    Team of Teams (2015) lays out the many ways that even large organizations can benefit from the agility and savvy of small teams. By building a team of teams, companies can better manage the complex, interconnected issues that often mean life or death for a company.

    Best quote from Team of Teams

    We have moved from data poor but fairly predictable settings to data-rich, uncertain ones.

    —General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussel
    example alt text

    Who should read Team of Teams?

    • Anyone in charge of organizing groups of people
    • Ambitious entrepreneurs
    • Anyone interested in working in a team

    About the Author

    General Stanley McChrystal served at the US Army for 34 years before retiring as a four-star general.

    David Silverman and Chris Fussell are former US Navy SEAL officers and current senior executives at CrossLead.

    Tantum Collins studies international relations as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University.

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