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Team of Teams - Notes

Reductionist management of the 20th century not adequate to the networked world, efficiency is necessary but not sufficient.

Digital native vs digital immigrant

Today not a q of optimizing for a known and stable set of variables its about adaptability to an evolving environment.

Nelson’s genius lay not in clever manoeuvre (trafalger not unique) but the command culture which made its execution possible.

Frederick Winslow Taylor profound and pervasive impact in moving production and management onto a scientific basis and replacing the artisan culture of the 18th century. Peter Druker argued Taylor deserves a place in the pantheon of modern intellectual thought alongside Darwin and Freud.

Numbers of inter-related variables creates complexity. What will be the price of a commodity next year, what happens when we interfere with an ecosystem. Eg cane toad in Australia to get rid of grey back beetles in sugar cane plantations.

Life expectancy of a fortune 500 company now less than 15 yrs. The 2011 list featured only 67 companies still on the list from 1955. Only 13.4 % endured the rest had gone to the wall merged gone private etc.

Robustness is achieved by strengthening parts of the system, resilience comes from linking elements that allow the system to reconfigure to adapt or change, eg a coral reef.

Teams can either be far more or far less than the sum of their parts.

To do the right thing team members need to know what the right thing is. Clarity and intent of purpose – WHY – critical azimuth to action and choice.

Adam smith – idea of the invisible hand of the market, interaction of buyers and sellers produces effiecent organization, the opposite of the visible hand of management which tries to control all the variables. Like an ant colony where there are high levels of connection and interaction complex operations can be executed without a detailed plan, creative solutions are possible in the absence of a central designer. In teams this could be called joint cognition – the ability to think together.

Crew Resource Management – implemented in 1981 by United Airlines taught junior personnel to be more assertive and senior to be less forceful to create a flatter less hierarchical communication system, inherently more flexable, p109. CRM raised airline safety. CRM honed trust and purpose at unit level the opposite of the previous pervasive command and control culture.

MECE – mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive

Great teams are not like great machines, they are like great organism

SF task force collaboration – problem that each element had its own brand of standoffish superiority complex

A suvey by the work in America institute of 100 leading companies found that 95% ranked ‘teamwork: creating and sustaining team based organizations’ as the research topic that would have the greatest value to them.

P127 Brooks law adding team members to cope with more work does not work, number of connections increases complexity and risks exposing fragility of teams, ie often slow to build them strong and easy to damage. Cant make a baby quicker by assigning 9 women to be concurrently pregnant for a month.

Problem with ‘need to know’ as a principle of intelligence is that it implies that somebody does know who needs to know. Recipe for a slow and unresponsive system.

To improvise and adapt you have to have context (mission command system all about explaining higher levels thinking about why in order to enable this adaption to circumstance and opportunity) this reconciles the problem of how to be both highly adaptive, semi-autonomous and highly aligned to the overarching objective.

Systems engineering the approach taken by NASA for the Apolo program, systems thinking, p147 scale of the effort. You cant understand a part of the system without at least some reference to the whole.

TF needed to fuse generalist awareness with specialist expertize. Adaptive organizational intelligence or shared consciousness became the corner stone of the TF response. A network to defeat a network. Lateral connectivity as opposed to traditional vertical connectivity critical to enabling this approach in practice. Heavy investment in liaison relationships and the quality of these key personnel as ambassadors for their units.

P190 Alred Sloan at GM bought in silos with top down control (MECE) structure brilliantly successful for a long time but failed at the point of complexity because of lack of lateral communication.

2009, Allan Mullaly turnaround of Ford, he broke down silos and developed a more interdependent and collaborative approach.

Sandy Pentland MIT professor looking at impact of information flow on organisational performance. Performance little to do with individual members in a network but all to do with the degree of connectedness between them. Best ideas come from careful and continuous social exploration.

Pentland studied more than 2 dozen organizations and concluded that interaction patterns typically determined around 50% of the performance variance between low and high performing organisations.

‘No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy’. Nelson

Ritz-Carlton leadership centre & learning institute, staff are free to spend up to $2000 to satisfy customers, encourages an attitude of breakaway from duties to attend to customers, who ever receives a complaint will own. Similar approach taken by Nordstrum also famous for its legendary customer service.

Today in the US only 20 of workers feel empowered p212

McCrysatal – ‘If something supports our effort, so long as it is not immoral or illegal you can do it’ Main q he ended up asking was what do you need?

TF reorg ultimately enabled it to function 17 x faster, p218 stats

Role of senior leader was no longer puppet master but crafter of culture

The gardener cannot actually grow any of the plants or vegetables in the garden they can only create the conditions in which they can thrive. P225

Asking for opinions and advice showed respect (leads to buy in)

Biological parallels will inform the knowledge age as physical sciences informed the industrial age. Views knowledge, people and organizations as living systems. Focus is shifting form understanding parts to understanding the whole – the only context in which the parts make sense.