“Team of Teams”: Key Quotes For Startup CEOs

Many of you tell me that things start to change at your company when the number of employees on your team begin to climb north of 50. It’s not an exact number, but things certainly do change when you don’t personally know everyone on the team any more.

Combine this with constant change and frequent pivots and it begins to challenge the leadership skills of even seasoned Founding CEOs. I see many Founders tackle this with different approaches. Some, like Tony Hsieh, of Zappos, even change their entire organizational structure in order to deal with the growth of their organizations.

You know that startups often move from complicated to complex when scaling quickly. You experience that daily. That’s why General Stanley McChrystal’s book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World, struck me as an interesting book to add to your reading list.

Here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Big Data will offer no respite from the unrelenting demand for continual adaptability.” 6
  • “…instinctive, cooperative adaptability is essential to high-performing teams.” 91
  • “…teams whose members know one another deeply perform better.” 98
  • “The competitive advantage of teams is their ability to think and act as a seamless unit…” 105
  • “Great teams are less like ‘awesome machines’ than awesome organisms.” 120
  • “…the larger an organism gets, the harder it is for it to think and act as one.” 124
  • “Thousands of fledgling businesses have sunk because of an inability to scale their teamwork.” 127
  • “…senior leaders are now more important than ever, but the role is very different from that of the traditional heroic decision maker.” 222
  • “More than directing, leaders must exhibit personal transparency.” 232
  • “Even quantum leaps in artificial intelligence are unlikely to provide the personal will, moral courage, and compassion that good leaders offer.” 232

Which quote strikes you the most?

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