Posts Tagged General Stanley McChrystal

Leadership: Fast Company– Design, Teamwork And Leadership Lessons From General Stanley McChrystal

This is an excellent video presentation on McChrystal’s ideas on organizations and leadership (‘It Takes A Network’), as applied to businesses today. He really dives into the complexities of today’s wars and market place, and talks about his lessons learned at JSOC and with special operations. Of course our industry should pay attention, because we are the ultimate combination of business and war.

One theme that you see with many books on special operations/leadership is how much of an impact Operation Eagle Claw had on the spec ops community. That failure was a hard lesson to swallow, and the leaders of that community at the time had to really dig into what went wrong and how to fix it. This is a starting point with McChrystal’s talk, and it sets the tone perfectly.

McChrystal also delves into the second reshaping of the JSOC organizational structure, and that is modern terrorism and 9/11.  That the problem was very complex, and that there were so many pieces (agencies, units, foreign partners, etc.) to put together in order to be effective, and that they were fighting networks.  The traditional top down management structure was not working, and could not effectively use or control all of these pieces. It couldn’t keep up either, and that is not a good position to be in.

So what happened was a rethinking on how to make this machine called JSOC into a network that could compete with terrorist/enemy networks. Nothing new if you have been following the blog or reading McChrystal’s stuff. Very cool, and watch the video if you want a better picture of what I am talking about.

As to today’s PMSC’s and their organizational structures? Good question, and I have never really dived into that.  It would make for a fantastic thesis or chapter in someone’s book, and authors/researchers might have already touched this issue. Who knows, and maybe some of the readers can present some examples?

With my limited exposure to companies and their organizational structures, most follow a traditional top down approach.  Although what is interesting is that corporate usually has no idea what is going on at the ground level with contracts, and they are highly dependent on the Project Manager to find that out with the leadership out in the field. PM’s are the ones that should be keeping a track of that leadership out in the field as well–but sadly, many companies operate with the PM at the home country office and they lead through emails or video conferencing. They might visit out in the field now and then, but that costs money in the eyes of corporate, so it is one of those deals where some PMs do it more than others based on what corporate will allow.

So companies do put a lot of trust into those leaders out in the field. If anything, companies forget about those leaders or could care less about properly supporting them or listening to their concerns. These leaders out in the field have to interpret emails and policies and directives, while at the same time making sure the troops and the client they are providing a service too is happy.  These guys are where the rubber meets the road with contracts, and they have a lot of impact.

These mid-level field managers might have several site managers under them. Under those site managers, there might be a day shift, mids, and night shift supervisors.  They might have team leaders in charge of PSD details, and PSD teams might be permanently assembled or piecemeal depending on how the organization and man power is set up.  Rotations of folks coming in and out of that country/war zone has an impact on how things are done as well. There are so many organizational models and types of operations that contractors create, that it would be very interesting to try to tap into that and see what works and what doesn’t. Even PMSC’s from Europe and elsewhere bring their own brand of organization structure to the table, and it is fascinating to see that stuff in action.

Companies also lack the proper policies and incentives to grow leaders into those positions. This is a big problem out there, and it is something I have covered before. You will see managers in the field, hand pick whomever they want, and PM’s usually just go with that choice–partly because they really don’t have any guidance or support from corporate. Which is great if that manager knows how to do that, but absolutely sucks when they create really poor teams of leaders that the rest of us have to put up with.

With that said, the really poor teams of leaders are usually defined by guys that are extremely loyal to that manager, and pose no threat to that manager’s position.  Much like how dictators operate. It is how you get teams of yes men that do not question that manager, and it is also how you get group think scenarios.  PM’s would be very wise to pay attention to how and why mid-level managers pick the folks they pick.  Was it based on merit, experience and good leadership skills, or were they chosen based on ‘what’?

Also, if the company has poorly set up the pay and incentives with the idea of hanging on to good people, then growing leaders is damn near impossible. Or if they do not offer a way to advance in the organization that is fair and makes sense, then folks will have no interest in participating in that. We default back to how mid-level managers assemble crap teams, because either they are more concerned with loyalty or they just don’t have a lot to choose from–because the company really doesn’t care about ‘growing leaders’ or seeking good leaders during recruitment.

So why am I adding this to McChrystal’s deal on organizational structures and networks?  Hopefully companies will look at Crosslead and other ideas on how best to manage their folks and organize their companies for success. In a way, incidents that are extremely embarrassing to the industry and companies, are like mini-Operation Eagle Claws, and all companies should be striving to learn from their mistakes/embarrassments and continuously improve (Kaizen). Perhaps there is a better way of structuring your organization, and maybe you can do things that will create the necessary leaders to manage that? –Matt



Design, Teamwork, And Leadership Lessons From Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Must Watch
By Austin Carr
McChrystal shared the lessons he learned as leader of the Joint Special Operations Command and talked about how they translate to business at Fast Company’s recent Innovation Uncensored conference.
For five years, retired General Stanley McChrystal led the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, the branch of the military charged with special operations planning that was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden one year ago. The successful raid on bin Laden’s compound took place after McChrystal’s tenure, but the crucial lessons he learned during his years commanding JSOC have applications in all industries.

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Leadership: Stanley McChrystal Speaks At Stanford–Leadership Is A Choice

“Leadership is not a talent or a gift. It’s a choice. It’s not complex, but it’s very hard.”, General Stanley McChrystal explains to a packed auditorium of 600 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. McChrystal shares his perspective on leadership and influence discussing the importance of understanding culture, leading by example, building trust, and creating a common goal within a team.

Excellent. I love posting this stuff, and sound leadership concepts is of great importance to this industry. So sit back and check out this outstanding 51 minute video of a talk McChrystal did at Stanford.  For those who are overseas that are not able to watch youtube videos like this because of restrictions or bandwidth issues, I am sorry you are not able to view this stuff. But this post will be here when you get home, so definitely check it out along with the other videos I have posted when you can. –Matt

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Industry Talk: Siemens Government Technologies Appoints General Stanley McChrystal To Chair Board Of Directors

Congratulations to Siemens Government Technologies and to General McChrystal. Boy, this last year we have seen a lot of outstanding leaders move on to the private sector and that is great news.

As for this deal, I am not sure what SGT will be focusing in on specifically. Perhaps a representative can come up and fill in a few of those blanks? I noticed on the website that they will be partnering with Boeing for DoD Energy Modernization and I am sure that includes a whole range of technologies to get us more efficient and self reliant. In the video, it talks about energy security and the costs to DoD, and those are very important to the operational capability of today’s military. –Matt


Siemens Government Technologies, Inc. Appoints General Stanley McChrystal to Chair Board of Directors
Dec. 19, 2011
Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., the newly developed Federal business arm of Siemens in the U.S., has appointed three external board members to strengthen business activities as Siemens builds its presence in the Federal market. General Stanley McChrystal, former Commander of the U.S. and International Security Assistances Forces Afghanistan, will serve as Chairman of the Board. He will be joined by former U.S. Army Lieutenant General John Sylvester and retired Lockheed Martin and General Electric executive Robert Coutts who will serve as board members.
“Our newly appointed board members bring a wealth of experience in identifying the challenges of the Federal marketplace and knowing how to meet these needs,” said Judy Marks, President and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies, Inc. “Siemens has the capabilities to provide solutions to reduce energy consumption, increase efficiencies, offer sophisticated medical services for our nation’s warfighters and achieve infrastructure improvements as a key strategic partner for the Federal government.”

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Leadership: CrossLead, By The McChrystal Group

Excellent. This is great news that General McChrystal has set up shop with a group like this. Not only that, but the type of leadership training he is providing is very unique and essential for our industry.

Here is the problem we face with today’s PMSC’s. How does corporate communicate and lead all of the various business units and elements of their company, when their company is dispersed globally?  Ideally, you would want everyone in the same room and once a day or once a week to discuss, analyze and synthesize the multitude of problems that the company faces.  But in our world, that just is not possible. And actually, for many of the large global corporations outside of our industry, this is their reality as well. The question is, how do you connect with your people, and lead a company that is spread all over the world?

So what the McChrystal Group has done here is to develop a leadership system called CrossLead that addresses this problem. How do you lead through an email? How do you inspire and connect with your people via video conferencing?  How do you set up your management teams and communications, and how do you leverage technology to actually be a good leader globally?  These are some tough questions, but if anyone has any insight as to how to do that, General McChrystal and his team have the experience to do so.

I think this is extremely valuable to PMSC’s, just because this Group understands the complexities of what it is we do. An example would be DynCorp, which has a massive army that includes everything from aviation mechanics and pilots, to police advisers and PSD specialists–just like today’s military.  A company like this operates all over the world, and in all of the war zones–just like today’s military. So to me, there is definitely something to be learned here by a master military tactician, leader, and strategist that knows how to leverage today’s technology to deliver the goods.

Below is some information from their website and definitely check out their Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for further information. At their Youtube page, you get a taste of some of the training and concepts, and I am sure they will release some stuff in the future. So it pays to subscribe. It also looks like they will be putting on one of their courses at Yale, and if you are interested in implementing CrossLead at your company, definitely give them a call. –Matt



Our Story
McChrystal Group is composed of leadership professionals with a shared background in service. From Navy SEALs to legislative and policy experts, the McChrystal Group brings a wealth of practical leadership experience in running multi-national, multi-agency, culturally diverse, and geographically dispersed organizations. From the battlefield to the boardroom, McChrystal Group has assembled the best leadership practices into a transformational leadership system called CrossLead.

The disciplined execution of CrossLead by a committed set of leaders will enable an organization to achieve the following results:
1. Dramatically improved shared consciousness and purpose
2. Faster and more inclusive decision-making
3. Better data and knowledge management
4. Rapid dissemination of best and worst practices
5. Optimized utilization of technology
6. Increased organizational transparency to enable accountability in execution

Development Programs
McChrystal Group will fully customize professional development programs to teach business executives and public leaders how to lead and organize networks in dynamic and challenging environments.
Single-day executive leadership program
These events are designed to discuss and relate CrossLead principles with an organization’s leadership team. The scope of work can range from a panel discussion with experienced professionals to facilitating an offsite engagement for key leaders.
Multi-day tailored executive leadership program
McChrystal Group will custom develop programs, including seminars and practical exercises that expose leaders to CrossLead mechanics and processes. The programs can range in size and can be hosted on site or at a destination location.
Comprehensive executive leadership development program
McChrystal Group will work with senior management to custom design a professional development program that challenges leaders to perform in tailored scenarios that best represent the unique requirements of their organization. This program will complement an organization’s professional development goals to include assessing individuals’ performance and potential, as well as team building through immersion in CrossLead principles, processes and mechanics.

McChrystal Group is composed of leadership professionals with a shared background in service. From Navy SEALs to legislative and policy experts, McChrystal Group brings a wealth of practical leadership experience in running multi-national, multi-agency, culturally diverse, and geographically dispersed organizations. We are actively seeking the right people to join our growing team.

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Leadership: TED–General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn… Then Lead

This is a great presentation and very powerful. Also, the TED crowd gave the good General a standing ovation at the end!

The other thing that I noticed was the ideas he talked about, totally mesh well with Jundism. Learn from your people or ‘learning organizations’, and listen to your people or ‘get feedback’. Even the ‘shared reality’ concept was an issue that the General discussed as a difficulty with command in the modern age. Very cool and check it out. –Matt

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