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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  9,154 ratings  ·  794 reviews
The retired four-star general and and bestselling author of My Share of the Task shares a powerful new leadership model

As commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), General Stanley McChrystal played a crucial role in the War on Terror. But when he took the helm in 2004, America was losing that war badly: despite vastly inferior resources and technology, Al Qaed
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Portfolio Hardcover (first published January 6th 2015)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  9,154 ratings  ·  794 reviews

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Jurgen Appelo
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great story layered over extensive research. Must read.
Josh Bersin
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book

One of the clearest and most compelling business books I have read lately.

McChrystal clearly explains through examples and history why traditional organizations based on hierarch and command and control are failing. He defines a new way to organize and manage teams in a way anyone can understand.

Even better he tells an amazing story about how the us army defeated al quaida in Iraq.

Very well researched and fascinating book. Anyone interested in improving their team effectiveness or
Max Nova
Full review and highlights at

Not bad for a celebrity business book. Was pretty interesting to hear how McChrystal managed a remote workforce of thousands through his daily Operations & Intelligence meetings - going to try to implement some of his ideas in our own weekly meeting. But really, the most interesting (and controversial) claim in the book was:
Big Data will not save us because the same technological advances that brought us these mountains of inf
David  Schroeder
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Working in the business world for the past 15 years, I have been bombarded by business books. I appreciate many of them and some of them I still reference on a regular basis. They have helped shape me professionally but none of them can I safely say have truly changed me.

For the past few years, I have been scratching my head in how to be a good and effective business as a leader. There are so many amazing communication tools but I am bombarded by messages as a consumer and a leader that often t
Laura Noggle
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Didn't quite know what to expect going into this, but had always felt McChrystal had a solid head on his shoulders.

This book was a nice mix of adapting protocol to meet circumstances in life, business, technology, and of course, all against the backdrop of war.

If you enjoy military history, don't expect *too* much here other than snippets that help elaborate his case for constant adaptation. The themes worked well together however, and were woven through complementarily.

Great book for business
Maciej Nowicki
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Team of Teams by Gen. Stanley McChrystal talks about organisational dynamics and leadership in the US army. Stanley McChrystal is a US General who lead Special Task Forces and had to modify his army’s organisation to better fight Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq. The book is a personal memoir of transforming Joint Special Operations Command. It describes how to adapt old hierarchical structures to fit the current complex world and create an agile organisation that can rapidly react to outside quick ch ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really amazing book.
Clearly explains how many of our current organisational believes, management techniques and organisational structures are out-dated and tailored to the needs of the 19th and 20th century. It also shows a clear path into how to adapt these old structures to fit the current complex world and create an agile organisation that can quickly react to outside influences.
The book shows some great examples from other companies but the red line through the book is the organisational
Kyle Champlin
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting stories and insights, but could have said in 100 pages what took about 250.
Overall I liked what this book gave me in terms of how a flat organization can work while my own company transforms into something similar. However, I had to get all the way to the end and wade through a whole lot of wartime anecdotes for any payoff. If you skim this book you could miss some subtle details that really only come together at the end.
Everett Probasco
"Teams are effective because they trust each other and they have a shared purpose. This is what we call shared consciousness."

"Team members tackling complex environments must all grasp the team’s situation and overarching purpose. Only if each of them understands the goal of a mission and the strategic context in which it fits, can the team members evaluate risks on the fly and know how to behave in relation to other teammates"

The concepts that General McChrystal describes with real-world applic
Bjoern Rochel
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, eng-mgmt
I can't praise this book enough. If you're interested in leadership and resilient, agile organizations, you definitely should read this book.

The core of the book is about the task force (JSOF) tasked with defeating Al Quaida in Irak (AQI) and its transformation from a more traditional, hierarchical organization with centralized decision making into a resilient, distributed, fast deciding, networked organization of teams; hold together by trust, technology and information sharing.

Interwoven with
Barry Clark
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Big fan of this book.

It’s about how to enable huge, complex teams to be adaptable at scale.

It deep dives into 2 main strategies:

1. Creating shared consciousnesses so that folks at the front lines have a very high level of information and context.
2. Delegating decision making so that senior leadership don’t bottleneck, increasing speed, adaptability, and empowerment.

Lots of fantastic, well placed anecdotes from: the fight in Iraq, US companies, NASA, historical books, and the author’s personal li
TS Chan
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Assigned reading at work. At least it sounds interesting.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Unread this for book club at work and, while it's got some interesting bits, it's very repetitive and really doesn't contain anything new that other business and leadership books have not already covered, some since the 1990s. Maybe the military is very slow on the uptake though.

It's also worth noting that, despite their amazing restructure of their anti-terror task force it's 10 years since this book was written and the War on Terror shows no signs of being won. (Probably because the whole ide
John Stepper
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well-written, balanced, interesting. Although it reads like a thriller in parts, it's a management book that offers a credible and comprehensive treatment of why "what got us here won't get us there" in terms of management.

I learned a lot, and the references and stories are excellent. I was eager for even more details about what they did to create a team of teams, and would have valued that more than the lengthy the context and all of the reasons why they *had* to change. I also would value an
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: leadership
I respect General McChrystal and enjoyed "My Share of the Task", but "Team of Teams" was a disappointment. I was looking for new ways to lead small groups with a vision and learn best practices from different types of organizations, but this was a "glory days" account of the authors' time in the Task Force. ...more
Barnabas Piper
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really interesting look at organizational leadership strategy through the lens of what was learned in by joint special forces in the middle east. I heard about this on Tim Ferriss's podcast when he interviewed General McChrystal and was intrigued. The book did no disappoint. ...more
Athan Tolis
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
This is the story of how General Stanley McChrystal brought Wall Street trading floor working practices (which have existed for decades) to the battlefield in Iraq.

The general implemented the trading floor business model on the battlefield in Iraq because he had to. When you have to respond to a distributed network of terrorists (or are put in a "winner's curse" competition with other dealers to buy or sell a bond) you cannot plan your reaction. Either there’s somebody ready to be deployed in t
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, war, 2017
Team of Team is one of those odd hybrid books, applying lessons from the military to business and vice versa, structured around General McChrystal's personal memoir of transforming Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) into the globe-spanning terrorist-hunting "sword and shield" that it is today, structured around the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, commander of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

McChrystal and his co-authors (Yale grad Tantum Collins appears to have done a lot of the heavy lifting in term
Ostap Andrusiv
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book can be "listened to" as an audiobook. It has lots of thrilling stories about history, US Army and Iraq. These stories keep you engaged. We like stories, right?!

But the main focus of the book is not on war stories. It's on the organizational transformation from top-down management style to a net of self-managing teams. It's the change from "machine-like" structures to "organism-like" ones. It's the trick of using highly-skilled "liaison" people — your own promoters inside friendly organ
Alex Fürstenau
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. The right amount of stories and insights.

Must have been really hard to transform such a big and strictly hierarchical "organization".
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book far more interesting, and enjoyable, than I expected. Worth a read for those interested in organisational dynamics and leadership.
Leif Almberg
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book and maybe even better than Extreme Ownership!
Tõnu Vahtra
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adding one more book to the list of best books that I have read this year. When go out to create a real "scrum of scrums" then read this one. In the last few days the quote "stop playing chess and become a gardener instead" (in complex environments act as an enabler instead of a commander) entered my vocabulary and intends to stay there. I felt some overlap with Cynefin sensemaking framework with a less theoretical flavor. Directly altering the general mindset of an organization is impossible, b ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly both solid in its message and elegantly told. I gather from reading between the lines that much credit is due to Tatum Collins for the deft storytelling and crisp style. Weaving together the contributions of multiple strong leaders with compelling experience and voices accustomed to being heard is a spectacular challenge, and he pulled it off exceptionally smoothly. Of course, the book's success is a testament to its own philosophy, and thus the recognition is due to the four author ...more
Nick Frolov
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was very sceptical in the beginning and wanted to close the book once I realised that the book is written by US General who lead Special Task Forces in Iraq. Nothing good can come out of this, I thought, but the impression was the opposite. General Stanley McChrystal's book was more specific, better structured and had better management theory evaluation overview than most of the business gurus I've read

As for worker of the Software Development Industry it is not a surprise for me to see the t
Becki Iverson
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
This has had such high ratings from so many thought leaders I follow, and I'm leading a book club at work, so I wanted to vet this as a possible choice. After reading I'm just.... not sure what the takeaway was? I feel like I missed the point because the "learning" here felt very intuitive to me and the rest was case studies of the war in the Middle East. There are definitely some striking examples but it didn't feel as meaningful as it's been attributed to be. Not a bad offering, just nothing t ...more
Doc Norton
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well told story of how the US Army had to transition from a top-down hierarchy of command to a team of teams in order to address the changes brought about by new enemies and advances in technology. Ultimately, a good example of how leadership changes as we move into complex/emergent domains. Much of what McChrystal talks about is based on scientific research, but the book itself is more the story of the transition from his perspective and that of those around him.
Jasky Singh
Mar 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
So much fluff. Couldn’t finish it. The first 74 pages of the book just kept reiterating in different words how complex and different the Al Qaeda threat was and how archaic the systems of the US army were. What took 4 chapters to do could have been done in less than one. Unfortunately I don’t have the patience to continue even though I’m sure I’m missing out on valuable lessons
Simon Hohenadl
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
A nice account of how military strategy changed in the face of new technology and distributed criminal organisation and how this is transferrable to economy. Not much new here. Repetitive.
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Stanley Allen McChrystal (born August 14, 1954) is a retired United States Army General. His last assignment was as Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). He previously served as Director, Joint Staff from August 2008 to June 2009 and as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, where he was credited with the ...more

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“The temptation to lead as a chess master, controlling each move of the organization, must give way to an approach as a gardener, enabling rather than directing. A gardening approach to leadership is anything but passive. The leader acts as an “Eyes-On, Hands-Off” enabler who creates and maintains an ecosystem in which the organization operates.” 17 likes
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