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Book Critique: TEAM OF TEAMS BY General Stanley McChrystal (2015)

Updated on June 28, 2017
Introduction In this book, McChrystal explains the challenges they encountered while in Iraq and the strategies they used in effectively managing them. The author goes on to explain the relevance of these strategies to various contexts, organizations, private and public entities. The author is arguing that considering the aspect of globalization and thus the faster changing of the world, smaller teams are more effective in improving organizational efficiency. Accordingly, smaller teams should be accorded the liberty to experiment while encouraging them to share and present their ideas for the organization. The author presents his arguments through authoritative examples on how and where the strategy of team of teams has effectively worked from hospital contexts, NGOs, public organizations and even NASA. The strategy of the team of teams if implemented is poised to transform both small and large organizations. Critique The Team of Teams presents valuable concepts and lessons for leadership across any domain or industry. The classical leadership strategy by McChrystal effects aligns with today’s fast changing world and the spirit of entrepreneurship in today’s digital generation. The realities of digital generation, free flow of information and the fast changing world have been duly harnessed by the Team of Teams as assets for leaders and the management team to consider inclusiveness of the subjects as well as adaptability to the fast moving world as per the size of the specific organization.This argument has been supported by Uhl-Bien et al (2007), who also noted that though the top-down form of bureaucratic leadership could be effective for an economy that is grounded on physical production, it is not suitable for an economy which is knowledge oriented. In this light, the authors present a type of leadership approach which they identify as complexity leadership. According to the authors, leadership should be framed as a dynamic that is complex interactive from where adaptive outcomes such as adaptability, innovation and learning emerge. McChrystals argument is based upon these sentiments. A review of literature and other sources shows that General McChrystals is not a lone ranger in this ideology of smaller teams or team of teams. For instance, Professor Robert Sapolsky in his you tube lecture further emphasizes on complexity science through the topic of chaos and reductionism. Using McChrystal’s book which he assigns to his students, the lecturer stresses on reduction science and the need to break things down into smaller parts in order to derive the best out of them. In another lecturer dubbed “Emergency and Complexity”, Professor Sapolsky further explains how small differences in a particular place could have a significant impact on a system over a specific period. Similar to McChrystal, the professor also employs various examples to showcase how this idea, which he labels as fractal magnification, could be applied in different setting and the expected efficacy. It should be considered that this is the core tenet of McChrystal’s argument in his “Team of Teams” book. Conclusion It is agreeable that in order to sustain themselves in this fast moving world, organizations need to adapt the ideology of smaller teams or “team of teams” as postuled by McChrystal in order to be sustained in the dynamic system. In this book, the author has presented this case in a more compelling manner. It is a book that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency, as well as performance of organizations. We can also see that Mr. McChrystal is not a lone ranger in the small teams ideology since he has support from various scholars.


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