Team of Teams Summary – May 2022

Author: Stanley McChrystal

Short Summary
Team of Teams (2015) is a guide to the most effective ways to scale a team to put together small teams that can accomplish something important and then link them together so they can learn from and support each other. It also explains how teams in small and large organizations take advantage of negative circumstances by managing them together.
team of teams summary

Detailed Summary

To meet the challenges of today’s ultra-fast-paced world, it’s important to have the right team in place. Today’s workplace is evolving. More than ever, employees are working in a connected environment where teamwork and collaboration are crucial to success. We are the teams of the teams. We are leaders and managers, strategists and creators. Moreover, we bring order to the world of chaos with insightful analytics and bold ideas. And we do it with a sense of urgency and a healthy dose of fun.

Despite this, though, many companies still organize themselves in silos, where no two teams have meaningful interactions with one another. We believe that silos are a byproduct of traditional corporate culture and organizational structures. A better alternative to our current way of working is an organizational structure that enables teams to operate at optimal levels, where they can connect freely and share information in real time.

Today’s world is changing fast – employment is changing, the economic landscape is changing, and technology is changing. Our goals are more complex, and the way we achieve them must change with the times. But in the ever-changing world of work, many people are starting to realize that this structure isn’t effective. Working on teams can be the difference between a company that barely survives, and those that masterfully take on new challenges.

Team of Teams Summary Key Points

Efficiency is a common goal but it shouldn’t be the end goal

Whether we’re tidying up a home office or studying for an exam, we want to get the job done as fast as we can. But cutting out the unnecessary moments in life doesn’t leave you with more time to do the things that matter—it leaves you with a mess that’s easier to clean up.

When you optimize efficiency, you end up with the opposite of what you wanted. You’ll have more time spent on the thing that you didn’t enjoy, and less time spent on the things that make a difference in your life, like striving for success, having meaningful connections with other people, and creating art. In a world where most of us spend all day typing away at our computers, efficiency is one of the most common goals—to get more done as quickly as possible.

I spend my days writing. Right now, I’m reworking this very article to make it more efficient: shorter, simpler, easier to read and share—and of course, faster to write. But lately, I’ve been thinking that efficiency isn’t the ultimate goal. But in life, efficiency is often the excuse we use to miss out on actually connecting with things and people. We do things quickly to make the process easier, to move on to the next thing, and to save time.

Make the team of teams to solve the complexities easily

As organizations cross the 150-person threshold, they start to have problems. Too many people in a team will make it ineffective. So for companies larger than 150 people, break things down into multiple teams. What’s even more important is that these teams need to report to a common boss. This is what we call a “team of teams” structure. A lot of teams need to work together to solve their customers’ complex problems.

To explain how we’re going to break down the three components of a team:

Teams are made up of people. Each team will have between 5-10 people from different disciplines. The sales team is made up of the people who source and close deals with customers. The marketing team is made up of the people who generate demand for your product. Teams have leaders. The teams themselves have leaders who develop the strategy and help their team members execute that strategy.

The sales leader will be a salesperson who has experience in closing deals and managing their quota. The marketing leader will be a customer development expert with experience in executing a strategy. Teams use tools to get work done. The tools they use are often a mix of technology and physical work tools like whiteboards, sticky notes, and paper notebooks. If you work at a company with multiple teams, organize them into a team of teams. That is, organize your teams into 2 or 3 larger teams that will meet regularly to sync up on what’s happening across teams.

The power to make decisions should be given to teams rather than daily operations

To help organizations function in a way that makes sense in today’s world, we need to give teams the power to make decisions independently and managers the power to foster connection, culture, and agility. A team of teams is a group of teams that are working together within a system that also has a hierarchy. It sounds complicated but it’s quite simple.

One of the quickest ways to help teams make decisions on their own is to give them “single-feedback loops”. This is how Google works, where 15% of employee time is spent on things that help the company. This means giving their team the power to make decisions on their own. To do this, you need to give decisions in the right context and make it easy for people to find the right information if they need it. You also need to make sure that the cost of making decisions is low, so they can experiment when they need to.

The way we want to support teams in this is by letting them manage their own culture. Our job is not to micromanage the team, but rather to provide the infrastructure, support, and guidance needed for them to grow into their potential. We want to enable the management of culture rather than daily operations.

Team of Teams Quotes

“The crew’s attachment to procedure instead of purpose offers a clear example of the dangers of prizing efficiency over adaptability.” –Stanley McChrystal

“I would tell my staff about the “dinosaur’s tail”: As a leader grows more senior, his bulk and tail become huge, but like the brontosaurus, his brain remains modestly small. When plans are changed and the huge beast turns, its tail often thoughtlessly knocks over people and things. That the destruction was unintentional doesn’t make it any better.” -Stanley McChrystal

Team of Teams Review

This book is fascinating and with an interesting concept that is best for the managers of companies either large companies or new startups. This book will help them learn what to focus on for success and how to solve the complexities in day-to-day work. This idea we can also apply in our daily life as we have explained in Team of Teams Summary but for more, you can read the book must-have have the book.

To Whom I Would Recommend Team of Teams Summary?

  • A business wants its business to become successful.
  • Anyone who wants to boost up his mind to solve complexities.
  • Any business owner wants his employees to be efficient.