What has your experience being with Team of Teams, or other org designs?

A while ago, we gave the new Team of Teams model a try. It was published by General Stanley McChrystal and co, from a book they wrote.

Some resources:

My favourite learnings from the experience has been;

  • Having people make decisions for things they are closest to. When you avoid passing decisions to other people, you empower people and teams to move faster and be more autonomous.
  • Ambient awareness, such that most people have at least some understanding of what other people are working on. That awareness means that hopefully, collaboration happens at the right time and without too much heavy lifting!

If you’ve implemented Team of Teams or even any other specific org design methods - what has your experience been?

Our org has been using Team of Teams as a model for the least year and a half - maybe two years - to try and create an shared (ambient) organizational awareness of our mission and values - and how each of us have the power to influence daily decisions towards a collective objective.

If we all know where we are going - it is much easier to feel empowered to make the little decisions that move all of us in that direction.

Within my own team this has been enhanced by a very specific construct we created around individual empowerment. Often the missing component in empowering people to make their own decisions is a shared understanding across the organization of what those decision opportunities look like and how to respond to them.

We have broken this up into a 4 quadrant matrix.
On one axis is our individual authority to make a decision - is this decision within our ability to make a definitive call. On the other is our Accountability - our willingness or ability to own this decision and be held responsible for its success.

This breaks down into four quadrants.
1 - Run With It: Decisions each of us can make that are fully within our authority and accountability. We can make decisions in these areas and are fully willing to own them.

2- Build a Team: We have the full authority to make these decisions but they are too large for us to take full accountability. We need to share accountability with a group of others who are each responsible for their own area.

3- Proceed with Approval: Decisions we are fulling willing to be accountable for - we will own them - but they require the approval or permission of a superior before moving forward.

4- Seek a Higher Power: Decisions that we can neither take responsibility for, nor have the ability to approve. Ideas that fit this category should be shared with leadership, but the expectation is that leaders or supervisors will both make the decision on whether to proceed, and will likely handle implementation on their own.

This framework has helped our team have a vocabulary around individual decisions we make everyday as we try to share decision making across our entire team.