Tuesday, May 06, 2014

General Stan McChrystal, #ASTD2014

These are my live blogged notes from the general session keynote at ASTD International Conference & Expo, this week in Washington, D.C. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military's most sensitive forces. He is also the author of the bestselling leadership book, My Share of the Task: A Memoir. (Read more...)

He shares the story of a tragic plane accident -- the landing gear had failed...eventually the plane crashed and lives were lost because the plane ran out of fuel.

Technology can increase rather than reduce complexity. Technology brings its own challenge.

In this case, the crew failed to adapt.

The rate of change has crossed over our ability to learn. There's an adaptability gap. Change keeps getting greater, we can't close that gap. And yet we know we need to deal with the unexpected.

Individuals and organizations need to be able to adapt organically, on the move.

Sudden, forced adaptation. These are often the times we learn the best.

In war: adapt or fail. And in war, when you fail, people die. And that's not an option.

Three ideas today:

  • Predictive hubris (the pitfall of)
  • Organic adaptability (the importance of)
  • Shared consciousness & empower execution (the necessity of)

We can't predict the future. We don't know what's going to happen. What happens if the game of baseball changes? The curve ball doesn't curve, the ball hits a bird, the pitch goes at 150 mph...

Captain Sulley landing the USAir flight on the Hudson. He landed the plan on the Hudson like he does it twice a day. Crew Resource Management (CRM) - focus on building teams.
situational awareness, self aware, leadership, assertiveness, decision making, flexibility, adaptability, communication).

% wise the # of commercial airline fatalities has gone down GREATLY since CRM has been implemented.

In 2011, getting Osama Bin Laden...two helicopters went in and one of the helicopters crashed. The situation room at the White House was tense. But not everyone understood who was in the helicopters -- Navy Seals.

You HAVE to operate as a team. It's hard and painful and if you don't do your job, the group fails. You build bonds of shared values: trust and common purpose.  And so in spite of the helicopter going down, the mission was accomplished.

On a small team, you finish each other's sentences. You have that shared purpose and trust.

The problem is that problems and teams are often not that small.

And so you need shared consciousness and the power of execution.

April 24, 1980 -- failed mission in Iraq, helicopter crash, eight American lives lost.

How do you deal with failure? How do organizations deal with failure?

They formed the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) with a mantra: Never again. We'll never not be ready.

Since then, this organization has performed amazingly.

Strong organizations can be matrixed and siloed. Tribe of tribes -- each tribe has it's own culture, but they don't play well together.  Today we have more complex challenges. We need more cohesive teams. We need to cross lead.

Al Qaeda didn't make demands, they made statements. They didn't take hostages, they crashed planes into buildings. The world has changed.

We had an adaptability gap. We had to change.  There was a gap between what Al Qaeda is and what the JSOC needed to be.

We had great small teams. But we needed teams of teams.

How do you get marketing, product development, etc to be a team of team?

Shared Consciousness. COMMUNICATE.  Let's share everything we've got. Put what you have together. You don't need more weapons, more planes. You need to communicate. (He tells the story of getting a chief Al Qaeda leader - they had all the information, but the intelligence groups weren't sharing information. Once they did, they had a successful mission).

Empowered execution. Sometimes, when the teams went to General McChrystal to make a decision there was enough of a delay, that the opportunity was lost. So he changed the operation. "You have the power to make that decision. I still have responsibility. But you are empowered."  When he gave them that power, they took that responsibility and they owned it.

When people own something, they act very differently. They take more pride and more caring and more focus.

Give them the ability to do that well.

And it's not just in the military:

Study in Scotland - patients given more control over their recovery, they recovered twice as fact.

Plant workers given control over uniform choices and schedules --> 20% more productivity.

It's about the talent you bring together and that you give opportunity to. Creating an environment for them in which they (your people) grow.

Shen you put together shared consciousness/empowered execution, common purpose/trust, and ...you get ORGANIC ADAPTABILITY.

This is about people. It takes leaders, and it takes a lot out of you.

"Managing is about working with what's there. Leadership is about creating something new."

What can you do?

We tend to do what we're comfortable doing.

As a leader, you may have to do things you hate, but you're the only one who can do them.

Things you can do for your team:

  • Identify purpose
  • Will to change
  • Create vision
  • Set external environment

Being part of a team -- helping people be better.

No comments: