I was debating the pros and cons of various organizational structures with a colleague of mine who's a former Navy SEAL, and he was kind enough to gift me the book One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams written by Chris Fussell, with whom he worked on the Teams before.
Before reading this book, I always thought of "bureaucracy" as a bad word, but now I see why it exists and what important functions it serves. I also got a really good sense as to how to build a hybrid organization that aims to balance between periods of decentralization/agility/bottom-up with periods of stability/centralization/top-down.
I also really enjoyed hearing about how to implement O&I (Operations & Intelligence) Forums to get key stakeholders on the same page quickly using technology, and how to match the operating rhythm of a group with that of its environment/market. I aim to put in practice a lot of the major lessons from this book.
My major notes and takeaways are below.
Strength and stability of hierarchy plus speed and agility of decentralized network
Shared consciousness/common understanding
Empowered execution. Decentralized. High accountability.
Hybrid organizational model
One mission. Unifying empowering narrative.
1 one mission
Intimacy within organization
Clans and objects as prizes after victories
Did you earn your trident today?
Squeezing hand of helicopter pilot = team intimacy. Trust.
2 the hybrid model
Bureaucracy advantages plus network advantages
Bureaucracy removes subjectivity and personality and allows centralized control at scale
Manager as info hub between individuals who produce
As you go higher up, you feel more distant from firsthand direct contribution and situational knowledge
Complicated to complex systems
Networks. Decentralized. Relationships as dotted lines and not hierarchical. Clustering. Driven by narrative. Best for crisis and adaptation but bad for long term planning.
Hybrid model. Dotted lines for informal cross-silo relationships.
3 an aligning narrative
Octopus Brains distributed throughout the body and can make decisions independently but also coordinated when needed
The starfish and the spider
Powerful narrative to align teams
Strategic alignment. Balanced scorecard system. Management by objectives (Drucker).
Credibility = proven competence + relationships + integrity
Case study intuit
Quicken beat Microsoft money
Recurring forums to share knowledge
Influencers, hubs, connectors. Focus on them first.
No fly zone: new hires get 60-90 days to study actual web of relationships and how stuff gets done before can fly independently and work on big things
Boundary spanners: connect people across silos
Collocation. Virtual decision forums.
O&I Forum. Massive videoconferencing forum which actually solves problem. Goal is collective learning not grading. Open exchange across ranks. Thousands dialing in for 90 minutes daily.
Not knowing was acceptable. Not thinking wasn’t.
Agenda carefully designed and distributed ahead of time
Hyperlinks to detailed docs and contact info
Live chat rooms with sub-threads between varied groups
Signing off and realigning by senior team. Reminder about what matters.
Every 24 hours
Ground rules for attendance, punctuality, device free
Sample agenda items
Full time controller interviewed and hired to run the forum daily
5 operating room
Empowered engagement. Decentralized action.
Balance between stability and fluidity
Balance and ratios
Consider speed and competition
Fighting al qaeda required 24 hour operating rhythm
Cycle between decentralized operation and resync with rest of org
Tactical moves faster than operational than strategic
90 min of O&I followed by 22.5 hours of execution
Can do this weekly if environment is slower
From x1 to x2
Delays due to dating of info as it moves up the chain
X1 is when new info tactically identified
x2 is when it’s acted upon
6 decision space
Outline what actions team has authority for
Decision space is range of things a team can do during period of empowered execution and discussing during shared consciousness
Key things from team of teams
Create aligning narrative
Building Shared communications forums
Driving shared consciousness at an appropriate operating rhythm
Hesitance: reluctance to take action
Deviance: stepping beyond allowed area
Better info sharing
Formalized role as opposed to boundary spanners
Prior book Team of Teams
The starfish and the spider
Give and take