Some books have what seem to be random abstract stories. Whether it is Frederick Taylor and his scientific study of how to make things more efficient, or how Admiral Nelson empowered his men to defeat the French at the Battle of Trafalgar by getting everyone on the same page.This book starts out by laying the groundwork to moments in history that changed everything.
When General McChrystal was in Iraq they faced a dilemma. They were so big and powerful and structured that there were struggling to make any headway against their opposition. The Iraqis while not as sophisticated and with less hierarchy were able to move quickly and were causing lots of problems for the people of Iraq. McChrystal realized he had to be more of a gardener than a General. He needed his teams to work together, work quickly, and to trust each other. This book explains why trusting more people and not having to run every decision through the highest person on staff can make the whole operation better. McChrystal learned that he needed transparency between teams, sharing intel became key.
A few quotes from the book:
Simple honesty shows and ears respect.
The union of shared consciousness is greater than the sum of its parts.
Einstien said ” Our theories determine what we measure”
The examples that McChrystal pulled together to show how great companies need great leadership but still need to be a team of teams include Nasa and Chevy. He points out how each department was working solely on their own project and had little to no interaction with the other department, so when components didn’t work together it became highly costly.
Overall one of the biggest takeaways from this book is communication. If you are only focused on your position you may miss out on the bigger picture. You may miss key information that can take your company from being average to being great.