Team of Teams
Team of Teams

Team of Teams

For a soldier trained at West Point as an engineer, the idea that a problem has different solutions on different days was fundamentally disturbing. Yet that was the case. (Location 136)

Efficiency remains important, but the ability to adapt to complexity and continual change has become an imperative. Using our experience in war, combined with a range of (Location 186)

Efficiency, once the sole icon on the hill, must make room for adaptability in structures, processes, and mind-sets that is often uncomfortable. (Location 221)

This was not a war of planning and discipline; it was one of agility and innovation. (Location 289)

With AQI, we faced a fundamentally new kind of threat, bred by a fundamentally new kind of environment. (Location 383)

In the course of this fight, we had to unlearn a great deal of what we thought we knew about how war—and the world—worked. (Location 392)

Specifically, we restructured our force from the ground up on principles of extremely transparent information sharing (what we call “shared consciousness”) and decentralized decision-making authority (“empowered execution”). (Location 394)

The pursuit of “efficiency”—getting the most with the least investment of energy, time, or money—was once a laudable goal, but being effective in today’s world is less a question of optimizing for a known (and relatively stable) set of variables than responsiveness to a constantly shifting environment. (Location 402)

Iraqis weren’t watching it on TV. For them, the experience was visceral. As the fragile edifice of Saddam’s government collapsed, electricity shortfalls crippled Baghdad, eliminating lighting, refrigeration, and air-conditioning. (Location 452)

By strategically targeting Shia Iraqis, Zarqawi ignited a cultural tinderbox, and a sectarian bloodbath swept through Iraq. He had cleverly engineered leverage: each carefully chosen strike of AQI’s would see its death toll multiplied by the chain of reprisals it would set off. (Location 461)

For most of history, war was about terrain, territory held, and geographic goals, and a map was the quintessential tool for seeing the problem and creating solutions. (Location 483)

As we gathered intelligence, we would diagram the relationships between members of the organization. (Location 491)

We began to consider the possibility that those familiar patterns we sought might not be there at all—that AQI and this war were fundamentally different from anything we had seen in the past. (Location 496)

Not only did they have no standard modus operandi, they had no standard hierarchy. (Location 506)

We saw no evidence that this inexplicable structure was the product of deliberate design; it seemed instead to have evolved through ongoing adaptation. (Location 512)

They did; while neither HIV nor AIDS kills anyone outright, the human body is weakened to the point where it is fatally vulnerable to otherwise nonthreatening infections. The environmental factors that weaken the host indirectly strengthen and empower attackers. (Location 518)

it is a product of compatibility with the surrounding environment. (Location 521)

A great deal has been written about how the world has become “flatter” and faster. People are more connected, more mobile, and move faster than ever before. By lowering what economists call the “barriers to entry”—prohibitive costs associated with entering a market—these changes have ushered in a universe of new possibilities (Location 526)

disseminate propaganda worldwide, incited a war. Interconnectedness and the ability to transmit information instantly can endow small groups with unprecedented influence: the garage band, the dorm-room start-up, the viral blogger, and the terrorist cell. (Location 531)

The odds did not look good. Nelson had twenty-seven ships, while the enemy boasted thirty-three. But he had up his sleeve one of the most thoughtfully unorthodox plans in military history. (Location 548)

Drawn on paper or moved as small models on a tabletop, Nelson’s daring move could be executed by even a dilettante. (Location 559)

Maybe more important than laying out a specific strategy, Nelson took care to emphasize the role of the individual captains. (Location 570)

the idea that individual commanders should act on their own initiative once the mêlée had developed. (Location 572)

Nelson, Adkins explains, “had patiently instilled the idea in his own commanders during many tactical discussions in the days before the battle. (Location 575)

Adkins adds that “this reliance on orders from a central command proved a recurring weakness in the French and Spanish navies where, by tradition, commanders of individual ships awaited orders transmitted in flag signals that could be hidden by smoke, cut down by enemy fire, or merely misunderstood.” (Location 580)

The seeds of that victory were laid long before Nelson hatched his plan or told each of his men to “place his ship alongside that of the enemy.” (Location 592)

At its heart, Nelson crafted an organizational culture that rewarded individual initiative and critical thinking, as opposed to simple execution of commands. (Location 596)

At the heart of his success was patient, yet relentless, nurturing of competence and adaptability within his crews. (Location 602)

Nelson’s real genius lay not in the clever maneuver for which he is remembered, but in the years of innovative management and leadership that preceded it. (Location 604)

To win we had to change. Surprisingly, that change was less about tactics or new technology than it was about the internal architecture and culture of our force—in other words, our approach to management. (Location 623)

To the soldiers, it is a familiar process. They spend thousands of hours in drills emphasizing precision and uniformity so that, in combat, (Location 634)

and forced to self-organize into LGOPs (little groups of paratroopers) that accomplish the mission as best they can. (Location 637)

microcosm of the paradox inherent in military operations. The pursuit of predictability—carefully delineated instructions, easily replicable procedures, fastidious standardization, and a tireless focus on efficiency—is foundational to the military’s struggle against the chaos always threatening to engulf combat operations. (Location 640)

One of the most compelling of these states that commanders should mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. (Location 649)

This standardization enabled the Romans to construct camp defenses quickly and efficiently. (Location 658)

More subtly, they help instill loyalty, pride, and inclusion—all part of “soldierization.” (Location 669)

Standardization and uniformity have enabled military leaders and planners to bring a semblance of predictability and order to the otherwise crazy environment that is war. (Location 681)

Individual companies and entire economies depend on business leaders’ knowing how best to manage for success. (Location 686)

Taylor made more, faster, with less. (Location 708)

the management structures that held everything in place had not changed since the days of artisans, small shops, and guilds: knowledge was largely rule of thumb, acquired through tips and tricks that would trickle down to aspiring craftsmen over the course of long apprenticeships. (Location 727)

He came to believe that their protectionism over trade knowledge prevented industry from achieving its potential for scaled efficiency. (Location 740)

Determined to be as “scientific” as possible in his optimizing, he followed the reductionist impulses of classical mechanics, breaking every job down to its most granular elements, analyzing factory labor with similar intellectual tools to those used by Isaac Newton to deconstruct and make sense of the forces of the physical world. (Location 753)

In a petition against Taylor’s “humiliating” system, the workers agreed that “any man on whom the stop watch was pulled should refuse to continue to work.” (Location 768)

Taylor’s system meant that—once researched, evaluated, and formalized—their skilled jobs became simple steps executable by anyone. (Location 770)

The data vindicated Taylor’s belief in the mismatch between the capabilities of technology and the way organizations were run, and confirmed the tremendous potential for improved performance through rigorous, reductionist optimization and standardization. He measured more and more, revealing bottlenecks in the flow of materials and inefficiencies within machines. (Location 776)

Previously, managerial roles were rewards for years of service in the form of higher pay and less strenuous labor. (Location 809)

managers were both research scientists and architects of efficiency. (Location 810)

Reductionism lay at the heart of this drive for efficiency. Taylor’s approach broke work down into its simplest elements—the laying of bricks became a series of five discrete motions; the machining of a tire, a sequence of twelve. (Location 832)

specialization, advocated in the abstract by Adam Smith and David Ricardo centuries earlier. Henry Ford’s famous assembly line, which in 1913 compressed the production (Location 835)

For Taylor, efficiency was far more than a mere set of business practices—it was a “mental revolution” applicable to the mundane (he experimented persistently with the most efficient way to make scrambled eggs), the trivial (an avid tennis player, he spent years optimizing the angle of his racket, and eventually won the precursor of the U.S. Open), and the geopolitical. (Location 854)

that waste was wrong and efficiency the highest good, and that eliminating one and achieving the other was best left to the experts.” (Location 882)

Taylor’s approach (X) saw humans as fundamentally lazy and in need of financial incentives and close monitoring in order to do work, while McGregor’s own Theory Y understood people as capable of self-motivation and self-control, and argued that managers would achieve better results by treating their employees with respect. (Location 888)

Theory Y disposition, the “org charts” of most multiperson endeavors look pretty similar: a combination of specialized vertical columns (departments or divisions) and horizontal tiers that denote levels of authority, with the most powerful literally on top—the only tier that can access all columns. (Location 898)

operations. It was a “never again” mentality. We needed a new management tier at the (Location 935)

new level of reductionist architects of process to ensure that things clicked together with the precision of Taylor’s factory floor at Midvale. (Location 936)

as F3EA: Find—Fix—Finish—Exploit—Analyze. (Location 957)

It derived from similar targeting and decision-making processes (like the well-known OODA loop: Observe—Orient—Decide—Assess (Location 961)

But there were warning signs. We were being asked to take on a new role, with unfamiliar tools, in an environment that we didn’t fully comprehend.* (Location 967)

In 1940 the Germans approached the line and stopped—their maneuver a feint. (Location 981)

Aided by improvements in tank technology, German forces could now move far faster than the columns of troops in World War I. (Location 983)

The Luftwaffe simply flew over it. Outflanked and stunned, France surrendered in less than two months. Today, the Maginot Line is often used as a metaphor for stupidity, but the reality is complicated. (Location 985)

But despite its formidability, André Maginot’s creation was insufficient for a new environment of tanks, airplanes, and an enemy command that chose not to play by the rules. (Location 988)

Over the past century, the kind of organizational measures that ensure the success of combat parachute assaults have proliferated throughout the military, industry, and business. In today’s environment, however, these solutions are the equivalent of the provincial apprenticeship models that Taylor stumbled upon in 1874. (Location 995)

In all likelihood, the Ottoman regime knows almost nothing about him personally because he is not well connected or aligned with any of their institutional enemies. But even without knowledge about (Location 1011)

With access to his data trail, twenty-first-century Tunisian authorities may know a lot about Tarek: where he shops, what he likes to buy, what Web sites he visits at the Internet café, who his Facebook friends are, what kind of religious and political beliefs he holds. (Location 1018)

But in 2010 the range of outcomes that this Tarek can generate is far greater than his government can anticipate, because he lives in a vastly more complex world. (Location 1020)

The two Tareks illustrate the contradiction between the tremendous technological progress witnessed during the past century, and our seemingly diminished ability to know what will happen next. (Location 1031)

Such unpredictability has happened not in spite of technological progress, but because of it. (Location 1033)

these changes produce a radically different climate—one of unpredictable complexity—that stymies organizations based on Taylorist efficiency. (Location 1036)

But when he saw the new printout, he was astonished: it diverged so wildly from its predecessor that the pair seemed to be “two random weathers out of a hat.” (Location 1051)

The two “identical” simulations he had run were actually very slightly different. The original sequence that caught Lorenz’s attention had been produced by the algorithm. (Location 1054)

Lorenz’s butterfly effect is a physical manifestation of the phenomenon of complexity—not “complexity” in the sense that we use the term in daily life, a catchall for things that are not simple or intuitive, but complexity in a more restrictive, technical, and baffling sense. (Location 1068)

have a diverse array of connected elements that interact frequently. Because of this density of linkages, complex systems fluctuate extremely and exhibit unpredictability. (Location 1072)

Being complex is different from being complicated. Things that are complicated may have many parts, but those parts are joined, one to the next, in relatively simple ways: one cog turns, causing the next one to turn as well, and so on. (Location 1077)

Complexity, on the other hand, occurs when the number of interactions between components increases dramatically—the interdependencies that allow viruses and bank runs to spread; this is where things quickly become unpredictable. (Location 1082)

Because of these dense interactions, complex systems exhibit nonlinear change. (Location 1090)

Nonlinear functions, on the other hand, make us uncomfortable. They come in many forms, including exponential functions like Y=5x, and they quickly defy our intuitive understandings of growth and scale. (Location 1093)

Chess is rule bound and the number of possible moves is limited, but it is interdependent—what happens to one piece changes the relationships between, and the behavior of, the others. (Location 1098)

But in a complex system with dense interconnections (even one as seemingly “clockwork” as a chess game), one would need an impossible resolution of data in order to make reliable medium- to long-run predictions. (Location 1113)

the idea of a small thing that has a big impact, with the implication that, like a lever, it can be manipulated to a desired end. This misses the point of Lorenz’s insight. (Location 1122)

Products, events, nations, phenomena, and individuals have become more connected to, dependent on, and influenced by one another than ever before. (Location 1136)

Like most of what we buy or use, any given Dreamliner is the product of a vast network of sources. (Location 1140)

Their edge? The article was written entirely by a robot—a computer program that scans streams of data, like that from the U.S. Geological Survey, and puts together short pieces faster than any newsroom chain of command could. (Location 1151)

When we read about new technologies or hear about the promise of a globalized, interconnected world we tend to assume that technological advances will enable us to do what we have always done, only better. (Location 1164)

But it all exhibits the unpredictability that is a hallmark of complexity; today, we all find ourselves surrounded by hurricanes. (Location 1183)

The tweet was deleted as soon as it appeared, but its momentary presence was enough to trigger both impulsive human behavior and the high-frequency trading algorithms now used throughout the markets, which “read” the news and perform trades in response in mere nanoseconds. (Location 1187)

But, Weaver observed, this was not the way much of the real world worked. Living organisms, for instance, “are more likely to present situations in which a half-dozen, or even several dozen quantities are all varying simultaneously, and in subtly interconnected ways.” (Location 1219)

Such efforts, Weaver maintained, are futile. You cannot force a square peg into a round hole, and you cannot force the complex to conform to rules meant for the merely complicated. (Location 1224)

perhaps most visibly in the history of human tinkering with nature’s complex ecosystems. (Location 1232)

When an infestation of beetle grubs decimated sugarcane fields in the 1930s, agronomists were delighted to learn of the Rhinella marina, or cane toad, whose appetite for greyback beetles had successfully kept the pest in check in Hawaii. (Location 1233)

The only things they do not eat, apparently, are Australian greyback beetles: differences in the life cycles of the Australian and Hawaiian species mean that the beetles and toads were never in the fields at the same time. Furthermore, the toads can kill not only by eating other (Location 1244)

An American ecologist summed it up as “classic human disaster . . . an ecosystem is at threat by being chopped away at the base, and that will have repercussions all the way up through the food chain in which the toad has insinuated itself.” (Location 1249)

Complex systems are fickle and volatile, presenting a broad range of possible outcomes; the type and sheer number of interactions prevent us from making accurate predictions. (Location 1257)

confound linear attempts at prediction and control. (Location 1261)

might appear complex because they have a lot of moving parts, but are essentially complicated. (Location 1266)

could never be transformed into mechanical systems with reductionist solutions: (Location 1267)

Butterfly effects in the economy, triggered by tiny initial disturbances, are common. (Location 1269)

A predictive hubris, perhaps bred by centuries of success at applying Newtonian models to complicated problems, has fooled us into believing that with enough data and hard work, the complex riddles of economies can be decoded. (Location 1274)

The average forecasting error in the U.S. analyst community between 2001 and 2006 was 47 percent over twelve months and 93 percent over twenty-four months. (Location 1276)

examining some forty-five thousand economic-data series—foresaw less than a one-in-five-hundred chance of an economic meltdown as severe as the one that would begin one month later. (Location 1280)

Attempts to control complex systems by using the kind of mechanical, reductionist thinking championed by thinkers from Newton to Taylor—breaking everything down into component parts, or optimizing individual elements—tend (Location 1284)

Change was linear. Problems with one machine could not organically spread to others. (Location 1290)

Companies would steadily ratchet their way toward success or failure over the course of years. (Location 1291)

The industrial world, where almost everything could be measured and mechanized—where individual variables could be isolated, tested, and optimized—lent itself to this model. (Location 1296)

leadership behavior, was a natural extension of this goal. As we have crept toward the “many to many” environment of complexity, we have engineered increasingly complicated solutions: (Location 1299)

The baseline belief that any problem can be known in its entirety has never faded. (Location 1301)

we were just more efficient in our execution. (Location 1307)

For our purposes, the ability to predict is the most relevant criterion, and determining exactly when things become unpredictable is tricky. (Location 1313)

for our purposes, we can think of a phenomenon as exhibiting complexity over a given time frame if there are so many interactions that one cannot reasonably forecast the outputs based on the inputs. (Location 1317)

These two variables combined mean that the amount of interactive complexity previously contained in many months of, say, local conversation and letter exchange might now be squeezed into a few hours of explosive social media escalation. (Location 1320)

But on more immediate time horizons, for much of the past century, things remained manageable: (Location 1323)

the divergence of reality from plan—but strategists could reliably predict events further out than we can now. (Location 1325)

Even the word “viral” hints at the fact that today’s environment resembles an organism or an ecosystem—the kind of interconnected system whose crisscrossing pathways allow phenomena to spread. (Location 1335)

While this profusion of information proved of great value, it was never very useful for prediction. (Location 1344)

but the reality of increased complexity meant that when it came to foresight, we were essentially chasing our own tail—and it was getting away from us. (Location 1345)

think that forecasts might be perfected if they could just get enough information about butterfly wings. (Location 1347)

we would still not know whether it would rain in a month, because the small spaces between those sensors hide tiny deviations that can be of massive consequence. (Location 1349)

We hear a great deal about the wonders of “Big Data,” which certainly has advanced our understanding of the world in dramatic ways. (Location 1352)

Sociologists can sift through vast amounts of political, economic, and societal information searching for patterns. (Location 1353)

it is unlikely that it will enable effective long-term prediction of the type that we crave. (Location 1355)

For instance, data on the spread of a virus can provide an insight into how contagion patterns look in our networked world, but that is very different from knowing exactly where the next outbreak will occur, (Location 1357)

A friend who works at a company that uses Big Data to generate these sorts of insights once joked that he could tell me what I was going to eat for lunch. (Location 1361)

We have moved from data-poor but fairly predictable settings to data-rich, uncertain ones. (Location 1370)

Today this life expectancy is less than fifteen years and is constantly declining. (Location 1376)

Similarly, management thinker Gary Hamel writes that companies now find themselves in “ecosystems” and “value webs” over which they exert almost no control, giving them little ability to predict or plan their own destinies. (Location 1385)

no “proper” structure, and without a structure, logic held that the organization should have collapsed on its own. (Location 1405)

AQI could adjust and survive. (Location 1422)

In complex environments, resilience often spells success, while even the most brilliantly engineered fixed solutions are often insufficient or counterproductive. (Location 1423)

describe resilience as “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure.” (Location 1425)

people have been “improving” the workings of rivers for thousands of years—straightening their wayward courses and fencing them in with dikes to protect the surrounding land against foreseeable calamities. (Location 1448)

While a “command and control” approach of high levees and floodwalls decreased the risk of small floods, it actually increased the risks of larger, more devastating floods, because it narrowed the channels of rivers, forcing the water to rise higher and flow faster. (Location 1450)

rather than erecting strong, specialized defenses, they create systems that aim to roll with the punches, or even benefit from them. (Location 1468)

In environmental infrastructure they often mark a return to the kind of cautious coexistence with nature that defined much of human history. (Location 1472)

the more you diminish that system’s resilience. (Location 1480)

is to protect ourselves through prediction and by massing strength against the predicted threat. (Location 1486)

Their robust responses to a single threat make them brittle and unresilient. (Location 1489)

Robustness is achieved by strengthening parts of the system (the pyramid); (Location 1496)

resilience is the result of linking elements that allow them to reconfigure or adapt in response to change or damage (the coral reef). (Location 1497)

The key lies in shifting our focus from predicting to reconfiguring. (Location 1502)

If you know that your company will be producing cars and only cars for the foreseeable future, then building an assembly line that is optimized for the axles and airbags, and can convert a little human labor and steel into a lot of cars, makes sense. (Location 1511)

Peter Drucker had a catchy statement: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing.” (Location 1530)

The Task Force had built systems that were very good at doing things right, but too inflexible to do the right thing. (Location 1533)

In effect, we needed a system that, without knowing in advance what would be required, could adapt to the challenges at hand; a system that, instead of converting a known x to a known y, would be able to create an unknown output from an unpredictable input. (Location 1537)

In 2004, we did not have an efficiency problem; we had an adaptability problem. (Location 1540)

Frederick knew that strong officers were needed to keep the army from degenerating into an unruly, dangerous mob that murdered, robbed, and raped its way across the countryside. (Location 1552)

But at the same time, the rigid hierarchy and absolute power of officers slows down execution and stifles rapid adaptation by the soldiers closest to the fight. (Location 1555)

the competitive internal culture that used to keep us vigilant now made us dysfunctional; the rules and limitations that once prevented accidents now prevented creativity. (Location 1562)

Interdependence meant that silos were no longer an accurate reflection of the environment: events happening all over were now relevant to everyone. (Location 1566)

Through trial and error, they had evolved a military structure that was not efficient but was adaptable—a network that, unlike the structure of our command, could squeeze itself down, spread itself out, and ooze into any necessary shape. (Location 1576)

enough for the flight, plus reserve fuel for an additional FAA-regulated forty-five minutes and a further company-regulated twenty minutes. (Location 1626)

an indicator light failed to illuminate. A piston on the right main landing gear had given out as it was lowered into landing position and had damaged the indicator system. (Location 1631)

McBroom maintained consistent focus on the issue at hand: contingency plans for a rough landing. (Location 1642)

US Airways 1549 saved all of its passengers and crew minutes after encountering an unprecedented and critical issue for which they had no technical preparation at (Location 1693)

One clear difference, however, was man-made and, as it turned out, highly relevant to the problems our Task Force was encountering. In 1978 airline crews were structured as a command: Malburn McBroom oversaw and divided responsibilities, assigned tasks, and issued orders in a system designed for efficiency; in a crisis each and every crew member turned to him and awaited guidance. (Location 1696)

But in the subculture of military snipers, it is not particularly dazzling. (Location 1740)

three operators stilled their breath, adjusted for the motion of the sea, waited for the precise moment, then executed as one, with full confidence in themselves and their mission. (Location 1746)

The sniper trio, in constant contact with their troop commander, had lain in place for hours before taking advantage of a split-second opportunity: (Location 1750)

The people who leave could meet the challenges; they just realize they don’t want to. (Location 1790)

It is to build superteams. The first step of this is constructing a strong lattice of trusting relationships. (Location 1806)

It is done because teams whose members know one another deeply perform better. (Location 1825)

But a team fused by trust and purpose is much more potent. (Location 1827)

Groups like SEAL teams and flight crews operate in truly complex environments, where adaptive precision is key. (Location 1829)

While building trust gives teams the ability to reconfigure and “do the right thing,” it is also necessary to make sure that team members know what the right thing (Location 1839)

His system resolved the problem by parsing the needs of the company into smaller interim goals, overseen by leadership who understood how subcomponents assembled into a whole. (Location 1844)

Team members tackling complex environments must all grasp the team’s situation and overarching purpose. (Location 1852)

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 their teammates. (Location 1852)

“were the guys who said, ‘I wanna be on the SEAL teams. I wanna fight overseas.’ It seems like a small difference, but it means everything.” (Location 1862)

Purpose affirms trust, trust affirms purpose, and together they forge individuals into a working team. (Location 1865)

Dr. Caterson is a member of one of the world’s finest reconstructive plastic surgery teams. (Location 1877)

The team opened up the dog’s stomach, removed the face, and reattached it. Today, if you saw this patient on the street, you wouldn’t bat an eye. (Location 1879)

the surgeons were about to head home to their families when their resident came in and said, “Hey, a bomb just went off.” (Location 1887)

streamed in, before triaging them to the operating room. These surgeons had all collaborated in the past and now made decisions as a collective, Caterson explains as he clicks through surgical photos on his computer. (Location 1894)

But an above-knee amputation means up to a 70 percent increase in energy expenditure to walk for the rest of one’s life, leading to cardiovascular and pulmonary issues. It also places increased strain on the hip, often triggering early joint failure. (Location 1898)

Everything the surgical teams did that day was “a complete deviation from normal practices.” Brigham and Women’s had never simulated a mass casualty situation across multiple trauma services. (Location 1906)

While it was certainly not part of the plan, such a divergence was also not unexpected: the sheer tactical complexity of special operations almost guarantees that at least one critical variable will come loose between planning and execution. (Location 1920)

contingency plan is like a tree that branches at every variable outcome (if they fire when we arrive, choose path A, if not, choose path B). But when dozens of saplings shoot out from those branches every second, the possibilities become so overwhelmingly complex as to render complete contingency planning futile. (Location 1924)

Entering the battlefield as a group of individuals without those characteristics would be like walking into a firefight without wearing body armor. (Location 1928)

The myth is that the sophisticated structure of ant colonies is the result of the architectural and managerial brilliance of the colony’s queen. (Location 1934)

Her sole job is to produce new ants—a critical role, but not a managerial one. The myth survives because of our assumption that order is always directed from the top down. (Location 1940)

and identifies the ingredients necessary to unleash such creativity as “connectedness and organization.” In other words, order can emerge from the bottom up, as opposed to being directed, with a plan, from the top down. (Location 1954)

the key lies not in the number of elements but in the nature of their integration—the wiring of trust and purpose. (Location 1962)

The creation and maintenance of a team requires both the visible hand of management and the invisible hand of emergence, (Location 1964)

Flight 173 “could have landed safely within 30 or 40 minutes after the landing gear malfunction.” (Location 1969)

must be a reflection of increasing rates of “human error.” (Location 1984)

Board pointed elsewhere: “This accident exemplifies a recurring problem—a breakdown in cockpit management and teamwork (Location 1986)

The report found that fatalities were increasing not in spite of recent technological advances, but because of them. (Location 1988)

The number of branches on the contingency tree had become too great for the pilot and his crew to memorize. (Location 1990)

For crews trained in checklist-based efficiency, minor deviations from the plan led to unnecessary deaths. (Location 1991)

NASA determined that a shocking 70 percent of air crashes stemmed exclusively from human error. (Location 1995)

The crew’s attachment to procedure instead of purpose offers a clear example of the dangers of prizing efficiency over adaptability. (Location 2000)

But they would do nothing to prevent overreaction and teamwork failure in the face of any of the other thousands of minor glitches that might occur. (Location 2014)

focus on risk adaptation instead of mitigation, accept the inevitability of unexpected mechanical failures, and build flexible systems to combat these unknowns; they could build a better managerial boat to navigate the volatile seas of complexity. (Location 2017)

stemmed from the captains’ attempts to control and plan for everything in a vehicle that had become too sophisticated for that to be possible. (Location 2020)

It trained juniors to speak more assertively and captains to be less forceful, turning vertical command-and-control relationships into flexible, multidirectional, communicative bonds. (Location 2030)

But the CRM-trained crew on Flight 232, working together with an instructor pilot who had been onboard as a passenger, devised and implemented a plan to keep the airplane under some degree of control by manipulating the differential and continual thrust of the two remaining engines. (Location 2038)

“an American child about to board a U.S. aircraft is more likely to grow up to be President than to fail to reach her destination.” (Location 2057)

If anything, rising complexity means they encounter more. (Location 2059)

that 98 percent of all flights today face one or more threats that, if mishandled, could prove fatal—threats on par with the landing gear failure on Flight 173—and that human error occurs on 82 percent of flights. (Location 2060)

observed that Americans were less likely to survive a car crash on U.S. highways than to survive a Vietcong gunshot wound. The (Location 2079)

As Boston surgeon Dr. Carty explains: “It was usually one guy—usually a man—who came in and kind of ruled everything and everybody bowed to that person’s will.” (Location 2082)

This practice made the lead surgeon, in effect, a team player—enabling the problem-solving efforts of others, rather than telling them what to do. (Location 2090)

The proliferation of such groups reflects the increasing complexity of the world—or rather, the tactical understanding that responding to such a world requires greater adaptability, and adaptability is more characteristic of small interactive teams than large top-down hierarchies. (Location 2105)

Today, we find ourselves in a new equilibrium defined by constant disruption. This creates the kinds of problems that only MCTs can solve.” (Location 2112)

The proliferation of teams across a diversity of complex environments—from special operations to trauma care—evidences their ability to thrive in the midst of the sort of challenge that our Task Force faced. (Location 2115)

It had been a tiring week, but none of it was real. It was all part of a program of drills designed to hone the Task Force’s ability to execute the most complicated counterterrorism missions anywhere in the world. (Location 2170)

Meaningful relationships between teams were nonexistent. And our teams had very provincial definitions of purpose: completing a mission or finishing intel analysis, rather than defeating AQI. To each unit, the piece of the war that really mattered was the piece inside their box on the org chart; (Location 2190)

MECE: a leader plans and assigns tasks from above, and everyone else stays in his box. (Location 2206)

A coach might be able to devise a more efficient way to execute any given play than whatever it is the players would improvise in the heat of the game. (Location 2208)

Trust and purpose are inefficient: getting to know your colleagues intimately and acquiring a whole-system overview are big time sinks; (Location 2217)

many, the intel teams were simply a black box that gobbled up their hard-won data and spat out (Location 2239)

The teams were operating independently—like workers in an efficient factory—while trying to keep pace with an interdependent environment. (Location 2248)

The answer was no. Both were working as diligently as they knew how, but they were connected only through a choke point. (Location 2254)

To fix the choke point, we needed to fix the management system and organizational culture that created it. (Location 2259)

The NSA, for instance, initially refused to provide us with raw signal intercepts, insisting that they had to process their intelligence and send us summaries, often a process of several days. (Location 2268)

that only they could effectively interpret their collections. (Location 2269)

Though teams have proliferated across organizations from hospitals to airline crews, almost without exception this has happened within the confines of broader reductionist structures, and this has limited their adaptive potential. (Location 2279)

Drs. Carty and Caterson credited their hospital’s culture of “fostering preparation and teamwork through daily collaborative interactions.” (Location 2283)

Problems existed on the fault lines—in the spaces between elite teams. (Location 2288)

In a response to rising tactical complexity, many organizations in many domains have replaced small commands with teams. (Location 2305)

This stifles the teams’ adaptive potential: when confined to silos like those of our Task Force, teams might achieve tactical adaptability, but will never be able to exhibit those traits at a strategic level. (Location 2307)

Of course, office teams may be cohesive and adaptable or they may be teams in name only—the result of a manager putting up some posters, giving a pep talk, and then retreating to his corner office. (Location 2313)

Teams can bring a measure of adaptability to previously rigid organizations. (Location 2317)

Small teams are effective in large part because they are small—people know each other intimately and have clocked hundreds of hours with each other. (Location 2321)

As it relates to manpower, this is known as the problem of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” (Location 2328)

Athletic teams, for instance, usually consist of fifteen to thirty people. (Location 2333)

Beyond such numbers, teams begin to lose the “oneness” that makes them adaptable. (Location 2334)

This limitation leads to a kind of tribal competitiveness: (Location 2345)

In other words, the magic of teams is a double-edged sword once organizations get big: some of the same traits that make an adaptable team great can make it incompatible with the structure it serves. (Location 2347)

And the late J. Richard Hackman, a Harvard sociology professor, found that teams are much trickier to build and maintain than we like to think. (Location 2350)

“As a team gets bigger, the number of links that need to be managed among members goes up at an accelerating, almost exponential rate.” (Location 2353)

We needed to create a team of teams. (Location 2365)

On a single team, every individual needs to know every other individual in order to build trust, and they need to maintain comprehensive awareness at all times in order to maintain common purpose—easy with a group of twenty-five, doable with a group of fifty, tricky above one hundred, and definitely impossible across a task force of seven thousand. (Location 2367)

and for them all to be bound by a sense of common purpose: winning the war, rather than outperforming the other unit. (Location 2372)

we just needed everyone to know someone on every team, so that when they thought about, or had to work with, the unit that bunked next door or their intelligence counterparts in D.C., they envisioned a friendly face rather than a competitive rival. (Location 2378)

The next stage of our F3EA assembly line—fix—clicked into gear as the intel analysts passed the case to their operational counterparts and began work on their next target. (Location 2463)

The basic outline was the same as ever: if he surrendered, he would be captured and interrogated; if he fought, he would die. The vehicles arrived on target. The AQI operative remained inside, oblivious. He had been fixed. Next came the finish. At the objective, the streets were quiet. Once, (Location 2471)

He had been finished. Next came exploitation. (Location 2479)

The team now handed the detainee and materials over to interrogators and intelligence experts who would analyze the man and the data. (Location 2483)

For most, the intelligence side of the war was to them a black box. They saw themselves as shooters; anything that distracted them from their priorities of fixing and finishing was a waste. (Location 2486)

At its heart, F3EA was a rational, reductionist process. It took a complex set of tasks, broke them down, and distributed them to the specialized individuals or teams best suited to accomplish them. (Location 2496)

uttered by a broad-shouldered, square-jawed caricature of a Special Operations commando or serious-faced intelligence agent. (Location 2511)

Their ability to specialize in their own domains necessitated ignorance of the process at large—for operators, time spent learning about the “black box” of intelligence was a distraction that took them away from their proper duties. (Location 2514)

They took pride in their own team’s performance, like the prima donna slugger who touts his high batting average as his team consistently loses. (Location 2518)

As technology has grown more sophisticated and processes more dispersed, the way component parts of a process come together has become far less intuitive. The man who fixes a valve on the landing gear of a passenger jet probably can’t explain the details of the complete jet assembly. (Location 2541)

The problem is that the logic of “need to know” depends on the assumption that somebody—some manager or algorithm or bureaucracy—actually knows who does and does not need to know which material. (Location 2556)

The economy is centrally planned, down to every family’s daily food choices. (Location 2571)

government scientists laboring in concrete towers have devised schedules for breeding and then releasing (neutered) animals into the wild—starlings in April, toads in September. (Location 2572)

The Atropians, without a plan but with awareness of the entire field, run circles around them. (Location 2585)

Originally established as a research organization, NASA was a constellation of teams conducting largely independent work farmed out by administrators. (Location 2641)

Without fluid integration, nothing would work. (Location 2646)

This kind of fundamental invention and discovery is usually tackled by small teams, and only later expanded at scale: (Location 2665)

NASA found itself thrust into a complex environment, and would have to find a way to exploit the innovative abilities of a small team at the scale of a large organization. (Location 2669)

His vision for NASA was that of a single interconnected mind—an emergent intelligence like the “joint cognition” that defines extraordinary teams. (Location 2678)

Previously NASA headquarters would collect data from field centers each month and have a handful of managers check for inconsistencies. Mueller insisted on daily analyses and quick data exchange. (Location 2688)

NASA had always preferred doing things “in house”—the complex interaction of parts meant that subcomponents farmed out to contractors not privy to the full context were likely to create problems when integrated. (Location 2701)

The solution was to bring contractors in-house. (Location 2705)

what, von Braun created two states: in and out. (Location 2706)

Those who were in had to embrace and understand the Apollo project in its entirety. (Location 2706)

but they needed an understanding of the project as a whole, even if establishing that understanding took time away from other duties and was, in some ways, “inefficient.” (Location 2707)

It got to a point where we could identify a problem in the morning and by the close of business we could solve it, get the money allocated, get the decisions made, and get things working.” (Location 2711)

believes that one cannot understand a part of a system without having at least a rudimentary understanding of the whole. It was the organizational manifestation of this insight that imbued NASA with the adaptive, emergent intelligence it needed to put a man on the moon. (Location 2714)

In 1961 European technology and expertise were on par with those of the United States. (Location 2726)

This competitiveness might have been a boon to a less interdependent endeavor, but it was problematic for something as linked and complex as spaceflight. (Location 2735)

Internal and external analyses later concluded that all these problems stemmed from shortfalls of organizational communication—devastating “interface failures,” or blinks. (Location 2744)

The systems management put in place at NASA became a core process of aerospace research and development, essential to everything from the International Space Station to the Boeing 777. (Location 2754)

contextual understanding is key; (Location 2756)

The basic concept requires only the unlearning of fundamentalist approaches to efficiency, but the implementation requires constant maintenance: making sure that everyone has constantly updated, holistic awareness became a full-time job for many, and required commitment and time from everyone. (Location 2762)

After Apollo, its well-integrated system of units slid into a competitive set of independent entities; its open communications calcified with bureaucracy. (Location 2766)

Systems thinking has been used to understand everything from the functioning of a city to the internal dynamics of a skin cell, and plays a key role in deciphering interdependence. (Location 2775)

system of interdependent elements, you need to understand how the metabolism of sugar works in order to understand how diabetes can cause the death of tissue in fingers, just as you need to understand how repeated pressure on the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. (Location 2780)

A checklist is inadequate for surgery because of the quintillions of possibilities that interdependence generates. (Location 2783)

Coleman Ruiz talks about BUD/S “taking individual performance out of the lexicon on day one.” (Location 2790)

group success spurs cooperation, and fosters trust and purpose. (Location 2790)

only because they can see that one individual’s failure will result in a flipped boat, and if that happens, the whole group will suffer. (Location 2792)

Everyone knew the boat kept flipping, but without a clear view of what everyone else was doing, nobody could see why or how to change (Location 2794)

the kind of knowledge pool that arises within small teams. This was the key to creating a “team of teams.” (Location 2796)

We dubbed this goal—this state of emergent, adaptive organizational intelligence—shared consciousness, and it became the cornerstone of our transformation. (Location 2800)

Everyone needed to be intimately familiar with every branch of the organization, and personally invested in the outcome. (Location 2832)

Today its seventeen and one-half miles of corridors still follow a logical and quickly grasped pattern, but thousands of doors on those corridors are now “access protected”—a euphemism for locked. (Location 2841)

Built at the start of World War II to pull the military services, previously spread across separate office buildings in Washington, D.C., into cooperative proximity, the building has seen its original intent eroded. (Location 2844)

Along with factory assembly lines, the architectural frames of white-collar work have evolved to maximize efficiency. (Location 2852)

Management historian Alfred Chandler observed that the role of the merchant, which once embraced “exporter, wholesaler, importer, retailer, shipowner, banker and insurer,” split—like Adam Smith’s pin production—into multiple specialized businesses in the late 1800s. (Location 2856)

Firms that value innovation and creativity have spent a lot of time searching for ways to inject interactivity into work environments. (Location 2891)

to move from an office to a lab, for example, employees had to walk through the cafeteria where they would bump into people. (Location 2893)

He had test-driven this model at Bloomberg LP, the financial and media conglomerate that made him a billionaire. (Location 2903)

ability to influence work habits through edict is limited. (Location 2905)

Putting himself in the middle of it kept Bloomberg’s finger on the pulse of the organization. (Location 2912)

A wall of screens at the front of the space showed live updates of ongoing operations: video feeds of small skirmishes or ongoing raids, JOC log entries recording the outcomes of successful captures or “friendly” casualties, maps of our gains and losses in different regions of the country. (Location 2922)

know instantly about major factors affecting our mission at that moment. (Location 2928)

freely across the room for quick face-to-face coordination. With the touch of a button on the microphone, everyone’s attention could be captured simultaneously. (Location 2930)

To eliminate one potential excuse for not collaborating, we designated the entire area a top secret security space. (Location 2937)

In the SAR, it was global. Here we created the network to overlay Al Qaeda’s international network. (Location 2942)

but reluctant to abandon the org chart, have done away with cubicles only to produce a (Location 2947)

noisier, more distracting environment that is neither efficient nor effective. (Location 2947)

Our standing guidance was “Share information until you’re afraid it’s illegal.” (Location 2980)

would live or die—was our Operations and Intelligence brief. The O&I, as it was commonly called, is standard military practice: a regular meeting held by the leadership of a given command to integrate everything the command is doing with everything it knows. (Location 2982)

Anyone who wanted to beat us at a game of bureaucratic politics would have all the ammunition they needed, but that wasn’t the fight we were focused on. (Location 3004)

Throughout its history, the Task Force commander has led operators from each of the various branches of the armed services, but each of these subunits also had administrative commanders within their own branch of service. (Location 3010)

you get to drive an incredible car, but you don’t own it, and you don’t pay for the repairs when you break something. Naturally, there is a bit of tension between the car’s owners and the man driving it through a war zone every day. (Location 3015)

operators had been limited to complaints about the speed and quality of the analyses they provided. (Location 3018)

If an individual or unit produced good intelligence, reliable coordination, or accurate and timely warnings, they rose in relevance and respect. (Location 3020)

but eventually people either produced or faded in importance. (Location 3021)

Much as von Braun found with NASA contractors, we realized that no group could be useful if it did not understand the full context. (Location 3023)

For bureaucrats who had built careers on discretion and never putting a toe out of line by oversharing, our way of working was anathema. (Location 3029)

The critical first step was to share our own information widely and be generous with our own people and resources. From there, we hoped that the human relationships we built through that generosity would carry the day. (Location 3036)

But, as the old adage goes, “knowledge is power,” and we were throwing that power to the wind. Our thinking was that the value of this information and the power that came with it were greater the more it was shared. (Location 3041)

because the intelligence agencies got faster and more robust intelligence from the Task Force than from any other source, they dramatically increased their participation. (Location 3044)

We made sure that our operators interacted with the analysts; one Army Special Forces squadron commander mandated that his operators sit with intel analysts, (Location 3054)

O&I attendance grew as the quality of the information and interaction grew. (Location 3057)

our dialogue became interactive and broad (“Why are you thinking x?”). (Location 3066)

Most important, it allowed all members of the organization to see problems being solved in real time and to understand the perspective of the senior leadership team. (Location 3068)

Our organization was not just “getting smarter” or “doing more” in isolation. Instead, it was acting smarter and learning constantly, simultaneously. (Location 3076)

Perhaps two analytical silos had reached drastically different conclusions based on the same evidence, and we needed to reconcile them and understand why. (Location 3078)

At the same time, the national security apparatus has ballooned in size. As of this writing, 854,000 people hold clearance at the top secret level and a third of them are private contractors. (Location 3101)

Partly as a result of those changes, a very young soldier with a history of depression and erratic behavior was given access to a trove of secret documents. (Location 3103)

Massive leaks are not an inevitable consequence of the current level of information sharing, but even if they were, the benefits vastly outweigh the potential costs. (Location 3109)

“the best result would come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for themselves . . . and the group.” (Location 3140)

Too often we viewed our partners solely in terms of what we could get and give. We began to make progress when we started looking at these relationships as just that: relationships—parts (Location 3175)

(1) if it doesn’t pain you to give the person up, pick someone else; (Location 3224)

(2) if it’s not someone whose voice you’ll recognize when they call you at home at 2:00 a.m., pick someone else. (Location 3224)

Their effectiveness depended on our ability to pump resources and information to them, making them effective and desirable to their hosts. (Location 3253)

ISR dramatically expanded our ability to gather intelligence on targets and develop new ones. (Location 3290)

Without ISR, a raid might require an additional platoon or more of troops, more helicopters, and other support. (Location 3293)

The way our operators experienced it on the ground, one moment they had a helicopter or a Predator, the next moment it was gone. (Location 3297)

When they understood the whole picture, they began to trust their colleagues. (Location 3299)

With that awareness came a faith that when theirs was the priority mission, they would get what they needed when they needed (Location 3307)

unit commanders gave away prized assets, often to the initial surprise and frustration of those below them, because they trusted that the asset would be used in a context even more critical than their current situation. (Location 3309)

The program succeeded because it defaulted to trusting, cooperative behavior, and punished the other player for selfish behavior. (Location 3322)

All three stop cold, turn to each other, then sprint back toward their vehicles. (Location 3355)

No one is directing her actions, and no one would reprimand her if she did nothing. But she knows what to look for, and she has just seen it. (Location 3357)

No single supervisor had planned or even dictated in the operation in real time; the solution emerged from a dense knot of interactions at the ground level. (Location 3401)

but equally important was defeating the challenge of the Prisoner’s Dilemma—the (Location 3403)

The reality, however, was more complex. What seemed like a cold calculation to privilege profits over young lives was also an example of institutional ignorance that had as much to do with management as it did with values. (Location 3433)

Though a visionary, he was unable to bind this sprawl of companies together in an orderly fashion. (Location 3440)

Things were too casual and associative; Durant was applying the old “countinghouse” apprenticeship ways to an entity that was too large and complicated to be run that way. (Location 3445)

Mess was out, and silos were in. Things became standardized, rational, and MECE. The changes saved the company. (Location 3456)

The company had little cross-silo information flow. One former executive recounted that at a particular executive meeting, Richard Gerstenberg, GM CEO during the 1970s, requested the formation of a task force to come up with a (Location 3478)

Understanding and correcting this issue would have been remarkably simple—on par with landing a plane with a faulty gear piston—had (Location 3487)

was organizational. (Location 3489)

An internal report later concluded that “the engineers . . . did not know how their own vehicle had been designed. And GM did not have a process in place to make sure someone looking at the issue had a complete understanding of what the failure of the Ignition Switch meant for the customer.” (Location 3494)

It was not even added to the central database that tracked alterations, so it took years for engineers and investigators to pinpoint the interface failure. (Location 3500)

The relatively easy-to-fix ignition issue “passed through an astonishing number of committees” without ever being addressed. (Location 3502)

But casting GM’s leaders as cold, calculating misers who ran the numbers and determined that the lives lost were worth the profits made—like blaming Captain McBroom for the crash of Flight 173—oversimplifies the situation. (Location 3517)

He attributed the project’s success to a management approach called “working together” that involved forcing interaction between previously separate groups and cutting-edge technological platforms for ensuring constant, systemic transparency. (Location 3532)

The ten thousand people on the project were put into “design build teams” (DBTs). (Location 3536)

He replaced them with a single weekly corporate-level meeting—the “business plan review” (BPR). (Location 3543)

Mulally found himself “inundated with e-mails but responded personally to every message.” Mulally’s goal at Ford, like ours in Iraq, was to wire all his forces together to produce an emergent intelligence and create shared consciousness. (Location 3550)

Though Mulally shared much more information across the organization, there were no leaks to the press for the first time in memory. (Location 3564)

Tuning such networks to expose users to more diverse voices could increase returns by more than 6 percent—doubling profitability for all of the social traders. (Location 3589)

The first was extreme, participatory transparency—the “systems management” of NASA that we mimicked with our O&I forums and our open physical space. (Location 3615)

As we would soon find, keeping pace with the speed of our environment and enemy would require something else as well: decentralized control. (Location 3624)

A big piece of why we lagged AQI lay in our need to relay decisions up and down the chain of command. (Location 3667)

Within the Task Force, thanks to radical information sharing, we had come a long way with regard to Drucker’s exhortation to “do the right thing” rather than “do things right”: (Location 3677)

In 1852, Perry set out from Virginia, empowered by Fillmore with an authority that would be unheard of today. (Location 3702)

The reason was actually much more pragmatic: The Army controlled its officers because it could. Army operations took place on land, and thanks to the postal service, (Location 3756)

Today’s managers have access to all kinds of information about their employees that they lacked just a few years ago. Communication and monitoring technologies like those we used in Iraq, or Sandy Pentland used in his experiments on idea flow, enable higher-ups to analyze macro trends in their markets to keep tabs on how many minutes an individual employee spends resting versus working. (Location 3775)

The wait for my approval was not resulting in any better decisions, and our priority should be reaching the best possible decision that could be made in a time frame that allowed it to be relevant. (Location 3796)

Whoever made the decision, I was always ultimately responsible, and more often than not those below me reached the same conclusion I would have, but this way our team would be empowered to do what was needed. (Location 3799)

Employees can spend up to $2,000 to satisfy guests or deal with issues that arise. (Location 3817)

One of the basics that employees are given is “Instant guest pacification is the responsibility of each employee. (Location 3820)

Empowerment did not always take the form of an overt delegation; more often, my more self-confident (Location 3880)

subordinates would make decisions, many far above their pay grade, and simply inform me. (Location 3880)

endorsed their initiative, and created a multiplier effect, whereby more and more people, seeing the success of their peers, (Location 3881)

I flipped a switch in my subordinates: they had always taken things seriously, but now they acquired a gravitas that they had not had before. (Location 3884)

Psychologically, it is an entirely different experience to be charged with making that decision. (Location 3886)

“If something supports our effort, as long as it is not immoral or illegal,” you could do (Location 3888)

We decentralized until it made us uncomfortable, and it was right there—on the brink of instability—that we found our sweet spot. (Location 3889)

the quality of decisions actually went up. (Location 3896)

An individual who makes a decision becomes more invested in its outcome. (Location 3901)

Nelson’s genius as a leader had been his nurturing of the independent decision-making abilities of his subordinates—described by Nicolson as “entrepreneurs of battle.” (Location 3911)

They also bolstered our sense of identity. Of course, I believed that every branch mattered, (Location 3920)

ascended through the medical corps, engineers, or aviation. A general is expected to have general knowledge of the army—blue, red, green, and everything in between. It is because they have this general knowledge that leaders can be trusted to make major decisions. (Location 3923)

We reversed it: we had our leaders provide information so that subordinates, armed with context, understanding, and connectivity, could take the initiative and make decisions. (Location 3928)

We wanted our force to exhibit the entrepreneurial mind-set of those British captains, so we nurtured holistic awareness and tried to give everyone a stake in the fight. (Location 3940)

I told subordinates that if they provided me with sufficient, clear information about their operations, I would be content to watch from a distance. (Location 3950)

They were free to make all the decisions they wanted—as long as they provided the visibility that, under shared consciousness, had become the standard. (Location 3952)

I’d learned that seeing the conditions on the ground, hearing the tone and content of a radio call—having situational awareness of what was happening, and why—helped me do my part of the task better—not to reach in and do theirs. (Location 3964)

“Eyes On—Hands Off.” (Location 3966)

ensuring that we avoided the silos or bureaucracy that doomed agility, rather than making individual operational decisions. (Location 3968)

Yet even in our new environment, we still retain high, often unrealistic, expectations of leaders. (Location 4018)

Railroads, telegraph, automobiles, and radio made it easier for leaders to influence developments from afar, but real control remained elusively out of reach. (Location 4024)

The role of the senior leader was no longer that of controlling puppet master, but rather that of an empathetic crafter of culture. (Location 4036)

But the chess metaphor quickly broke down. Even in its most rapid form, chess is still a rigidly iterative game, alternating moves between opponents. (Location 4062)

We felt responsible, and harbored a corresponding need to be in control, but as we were learning, we actually needed to let go. (Location 4068)

Years later as Task Force commander, I began to view effective leadership in the new environment as more akin to gardening than chess. (Location 4081)

to enable the subordinate components to function with “smart autonomy.” (Location 4083)

because the efforts of every part of the team were tightly linked to a common concept for the fight, but it allowed those forces to be enabled with a constant flow of “shared consciousness” (Location 4084)

Within our Task Force, as in a garden, the outcome was less dependent on the initial planting than on consistent maintenance. (Location 4086)

the mental transition from heroic leader to humble gardener was not a comfortable one. (Location 4090)

If adequately informed, I expected myself to have the right answers and deliver them to my force with assurance. (Location 4092)

Paradoxically, at exactly the time when I had the capability to make more decisions, my intuition told me I had to make fewer. (Location 4096)

Leading as a gardener meant that I kept the Task Force focused on clearly articulated priorities by explicitly talking about them and by leading by example. (Location 4104)

Experience had taught me that nothing was heard until it had been said several times. Only when I heard my own words echoed or paraphrased back to me by subordinates as essential “truths” did I know they had been fully received. (Location 4111)

In situations where senior leaders can cloister themselves behind walls or phalanxes of aides, emerging only when their ties are straight, their hair coiffured, and their words carefully chosen, controlling the signal might be possible. (Location 4115)

I sought to maintain a consistent example and message. (Location 4117)

uniform against an austere plywood backdrop communicated my focus and commitment. (Location 4121)

the same reasons, the O&I was never canceled and attendance was mandatory. I felt that if the O&I was seen as an occasional event not always attended by key leaders, it would unravel. (Location 4126)

I wanted the O&I to be a balance of reporting of key information and active interaction. (Location 4128)

I learned that simply removing my reading glasses and rubbing my temple was an action that was interpreted on several continents. (Location 4137)

would be tasked to give short updates from their locations—places like the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, or a small base along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. (Location 4139)

Few slept the evening before, and it would have been simple for me to unintentionally, even unconsciously, make it a terrible experience for them. (Location 4142)

The answer might not be deeply important, and often I knew it beforehand, but I wanted to show that I had listened and that their work mattered. (Location 4147)

to show their knowledge and competence. (Location 4149)

Others would later offer them advice on how to improve—but it didn’t need to come from me in front of thousands of people. (Location 4150)

adopted a practice I called “thinking out loud,” in which I would summarize what I’d heard, describe how I processed the information, and outline my first thoughts on what we should consider doing about (Location 4156)

After I did that, in a pointed effort to reinforce empowered execution, I would often ask the subordinate to consider what action might be appropriate and tell me what he or she planned to do. (Location 4158)

The overall message reinforced by the O&I was that we have a problem that only we can understand and solve. (Location 4162)

Most of these visits had multiple objectives: to increase the leader’s understanding of the situation, to communicate guidance to the force, and to lead and inspire. (Location 4168)

On-site, briefings from the local leadership were appropriate, but they needed to be accompanied by less formal interaction with individuals further down the chain. (Location 4172)

Briefings are valuable but normally communicate primarily what the subordinate leader wants you to know, and often the picture they provide is incomplete. (Location 4175)

“Can you describe your very best source? I’ll assume that all the others are less valuable.” (Location 4178)

“If I told you that you weren’t going home until we win—what would you do differently?” (Location 4181)

If they were forced to operate on a metric of task completion, rather than watching the clock until they went home, the implications would be significant. (Location 4183)

Once they recalculated, their answers were impressive. Most adjusted their approach to take a longer view of solving the problem. (Location 4185)

I found it essential to let members of the command hear directly from me. (Location 4189)

If, after hearing their problems or concerns, I couldn’t do anything about them, I found it far better to state that directly than to pretend I could change things. Simple honesty shows, and earns, respect. (Location 4194)

if you come to ask questions, leave enough time to listen to the answers. (Location 4197)

Leading a team of teams is a formidable task—much of what a leader must be, and do, has fundamentally changed. (Location 4207)

The primary responsibility of the new leader is to maintain a holistic, big-picture view, (Location 4212)

avoiding a reductionist approach, no matter how tempting micromanaging may (Location 4213)

More than directing, leaders must exhibit personal transparency. This is the new ideal. (Location 4217)

A statement in the following afternoon’s Operations and Intelligence video teleconference made me take immediate notice: “This is not just a bunch of fighters. These guys are different.” (Location 4277)

He knew what was normal, so different stood out. (Location 4281)

Over the course of the evening they struck targets as quickly as possible, including fourteen in Baghdad alone, hoping to hit each before word of Zarqawi’s death prompted the AQI operatives to move. (Location 4359)

An analyst would be next to an operator next to someone on rotation from one of our partner agencies, gathering information from Baghdad, Kabul, and D.C. We eventually dubbed it “the Star Wars bar,” after the motley crew of aliens that populated George Lucas’s extraterrestrial taverns. (Location 4381)

Political scientist Brian Danoff explains that Tocqueville saw leaders as “charged with the task of educating democratic citizens, and providing their understanding of freedom with a sense of purpose, a sense of ‘what freedom is for.’” (Location 4402)

a political structure in which decision-making authority is—in some ways—decentralized to the voters, rather than concentrated in a monarchic or oligarchic core, requires a high level of political awareness among the public in order to function. If people are not educated enough to make informed decisions (Location 4405)

a democracy such as America could remain free only with “a proper kind of education.” (Location 4409)

An organization should empower its people, but only after it has done the heavy lifting of creating shared consciousness. (Location 4414)

Mental models can be very helpful—they can provide shortcuts and keep us from reinventing the wheel. (Location 4456)

Problems arise when these models no longer reflect reality and when they inhibit creative thinking. (Location 4458)

When we urge people to think “outside of the box,” we are generally asking them to discard mental models. (Location 4463)

We will need to confront complex problems in ways that are discerning, real-time, responsive, and adaptive. (Location 4468)

This philosophy views knowledge, people and organizations as living systems . . . [which represents a shift from] (1) focusing on parts to focusing on the whole, (2) focusing on categorization to focusing on integration.” (Location 4475)

And now we need systems that can solve the complex, systemic threats of climate change, brittle development aid flow, and networked terrorism. This makes management one of the fundamental limfacs to the quest for human progress, and as we look to solve bigger and bigger problems, we will need management systems that, like the UT traffic system, can adjust and adapt in real time; (Location 4479)

Out of necessity, AQI invented a new solution to being effective in this new environment, as did we, and as, sooner or later, will everyone else. (Location 4490)

Like Taylor, we found that the same technologies that created these challenges brought solutions. (Location 4504)

While Taylor’s management structures focused on inputs and outputs, much like a physical assembly line, ours was built on an ecosystem of shared information similar to crowdsourced solutions, just like the architecture of adaptive, evolving Web sites like Wikipedia, (Location 4512)

The Task Force still had ranks and each member was still assigned a particular team and sub-sub-command, but we all understood that we were now part of a network; (Location 4517)