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FUEL Favorites: Industry Book Picks

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Featuring Matthew Garvin, Senior Developer

We’re all about staying creative at FUEL, and we want to help spread some of the inspiration. So, we tapped into our team’s bookshelves to find the reads they turn to when they’re looking for a professional lift—from deep dives into industry best practices to unique perspectives on their fields. Here’s the latest pick for our FUEL Favorite Industry Books, courtesy of Matthew Garvin, our senior web developer.

Book Title: Team of Teams

Author: General Stanley McChrystal

About the Book

Pulling from real-life military experience, a former U.S. general outlines how to effectively shift focus from efficiency to adaptability by breaking into smaller units and empowering teams to be proactive with open communication and shared information.

Why Its Highly Recommended

It’s an excellent read for learning how to execute and communicate effectively in complex work environments.

I’m not a huge fan of professional development books because they seem to be way too reductionist. But at my previous workplace, the CEO was a retired Marine colonel and he was talking about it, so I decided to get a copy. And I was impressed because it felt like it was executing on real life examples that the military was dealing with for the last couple of years, and it seemed very applicable to what I was doing at the time.

I was involved in a lot of project management back then, and I found that the team I was managing had been kind of trained into this mindset to just sit and wait for instruction, which made it difficult to move a project forward. This book talks about reasons why that behavior historically existed in the military and why they were trying to get away from this “sit down and take orders” mentality because it wasn’t working for them in this theater of operations.

So long story short, it was exactly what I needed to read at the time. It was easy to go through all of the items and see, “Oh, yep! I see why this wasn’t working for them and how it could be corrected.”

How It Helps in the Professional World

Team of Teams aided me in improving my workplace communication. It seems like a lot of time within project management and within teams, you’re giving information only to your team. And by doing that, you’re limiting the communication, the team’s input, and possible insight that someone outside of your team could deliver.

That’s one of the things they talk about specifically in the book in terms of reducing their silo. And what they did, instead of having one five-man squad for this particular area of operations and another for the Army or Navy, they put everyone in one big room—kind of like what we do at FUEL. And whether it was  being in a room physically or interacting virtually, like through Slack, the communication was just flowing freely.

And if person A, who wasn’t relevant to an operation, could listen in and see what was going on with another operation, they are able to have advance knowledge. We see that happen at FUEL—where I may not be the person in charge of brand development, but I can still offer insight outside of my scope.

Key Takeaways

The two main concepts the author talks about in the book are “shared consciousness” and “empowered execution.”

Shared consciousness is really just another term for getting rid of siloing within an organization. Everyone talks about how siloing is awful because it’s crappy communication, and there’s no reason that it should exist. So, the author talks about the siloing in his operations, how you have to deal with it within your organization, and how you can get rid of it.

The other concept was empowered execution, which is allowing your team to take that information they’ve been granted and act on it. An effective team doesn’t just respond to direction. They’re taking information and walking with it and producing results. And that’s where a lot of teams struggle—a lot of time, they’re sitting and waiting for direction to come to them as opposed to being more proactive.

Those two concepts are immensely helpful in any organization, and I think they’ve certainly helped me in my previous role and here at FUEL.

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