Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US General's Methods on March from Battlefield to Boardroom

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US General's Methods on March from Battlefield to Boardroom

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst

STANLEY McChrystal and suits don't go together. He's the ex-US Army general who commanded coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. McChrystal was called home after a Rolling Stone magazine article appeared in which he made unflattering remarks about his masters in Washington.

He left the service and has since reinvented himself as a hugely in-demand management guru, advising major corporations via his McChrystal Group on how to make themselves more adaptable to the changing business world. His book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Penguin), was a best-seller in the US, and is launched here tomorrow.

It's five-and-a-half years since he quit soldiering but he's instantly recognisable as the figure who regularly appeared on our TV screens during those conflicts. He's lean and wiry, with a military haircut and, yes, a business suit and tie that look completely out of place.

He made his name in Iraq by acknowledging the brilliance and persistence of the enemy, al Qaeda. Instead of drawing on the vast machine of the US military, he borrowed al Qaeda's tactics and fought them at their own game.

Out went a large, hierarchical command structure and in came small teams responsible for their own actions. It worked, and now he's bringing his thinking and lessons learned from those experiences to business. "The US Army taught me that people are capable of extraordinary things if their leader can create the atmosphere which allows that to happen. Why? Because the US Army takes average talent and gets an above-average outcome from them."

Soldiers, he says, "don't fight for policies, they don't fight for money. They fight for the bond with their fellow soldiers. That was the same with al Qaeda -- they were dedicated to a cause which joined them together and drove them on". By building small teams, that bond can be encouraged to develop. While working in commerce is hardly the same as being in the field of fire, h e w a r n s against complacency. …

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