Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

My guest today is Chris Fussell. He serves as the president of McChrystal Group and is an author of the 2015 New York Times bestseller Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, as well as 2017 Wall Street Journal bestseller One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams.

Chris was commissioned as a naval officer in 1997 and spent 15 years on US Navy SEAL teams, leading SEAL elements in combat zones around the globe. From war-torn Kosovo, to counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to highly specialized efforts in the troubled areas of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, he experienced and led through the modern evolution of the United States military’s Special Operations community, first on SEAL Teams Two and Eight and then in the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

Episode Highlights

In this interview, Chris and I discuss:

  • How the special forces had to adapt to the post 9/11 reality and why you might want to experiment with a similar approach
  • The culture shift that enabled General McChrystal to successfully reorganize the special forces
  • Why bureaucracy and adaptability are not mutually exclusive and what companies can do to benefit from both
  • The importance of identifying and understanding the external challenges that have the power to disrupt your organization
  • How to successfully address the disconnect between the key drivers of innovation within your organization and how you are structured
  • The psychological process that leaders and their teams go through when moving from a centralized and top-down model to a more agile and adaptable one
  • The role of a leader in a networked system
  • The challenges leaders and teams face with successful “empowerment”
  • The stories that teams tell themselves and the impact that they have on cross-functional collaboration
  • How to create a space for collective emergent thinking that enables organizations to successfully address complex problems
  • What are the prerequisites to have effective communication and collaboration forums with as many as 300 people from across territories and functions
  • Ways of developing deep levels of trust within a team

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

More about Chris Fussell

Chris was selected to serve as Aide-de-Camp to then Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal during General McChrystal’s final year commanding the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where they served for a year together in Iraq. He witnessed firsthand the Special Operations community’s transformation into a successful, agile network.
Chris earned a Master of Arts in Irregular Warfare from the Naval Postgraduate School, receiving the Pat Tillman Award for highest peer-rated Special Operations Officer in the program. His thesis work focused on the interagency collaboration and intelligence sharing processes that drove effective, cross-silo collaboration during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell
One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell and C.W. Goodyear
Primed to Perform by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker

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