6 Key Enablers for Agile from the Book “Team of Teams”

Ant Murphy
5 min readJun 27, 2023

(originally published at antmurphy.me subscribe and read free there — https://www.antmurphy.me/blog/2022/06/22/6-key-enablers-of-agility-from-the-book-team-of-teams)

The first rule of scaling agile is DON’T.

Instead, descale the work and organisation instead.

But how? you ask.

Naysayers will shout, “You’ll never get a large organisation to behave like a startup!”

One of the best books on building an agile organisation is not about agile at all. Instead, it’s a story about building an adaptive and responsive organisation. Free from jargon, buzzwords and trying to shove the latest ‘model’ or methodology down your throat.

I’m referring to the book ‘Team of Teams’ by no other than 4-star General and ex-commander of Joint Special Operations Command, Stanley McChrystal.

Many don’t associate the military with being very agile. They envision a highly hierarchal organisation where subordinates do as they’re told and the commanders call all the shots. And whilst some of that might be true, and it definitely was the case 100 years ago, the military has learned much over the thousands of years it’s operated, and nothing motivates change like than paying the ultimate price.

Gen. McChrystal takes you through his journey as Join Special Operations Commander to reinvent the United States special forces from a largely traditional command organisation into a highly resilient and adaptive organisation that can respond to the complexities of today’s world and the fog of war.

The profound thing was that in his post-military career, he found that the concepts he applied were not unique. Others had applied them as well to much success.

A ‘Team of Teams’

The underlying notion McCrystal applied is quite simple. But by no means did this make it easy to achieve.

The notion is to break the organisation down into a network of smaller components — into a team of teams.

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Ant Murphy

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