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“General Stanley McChrystal experienced a reinvention challenge of his own when the threat of Al Qaeda emerged and the U.S. military had to rethink its assumptions. ‘We thought we knew the rules, that we knew what it took to be successful,’ he says. ‘But the sport we had been playing wasn’t good enough for the sport we were required to be effective at.’ McChrystal, 58, speaks with the stentorian assurance of an old-school leader. But what he has to say doesn’t fit that profile. ‘We grew up in the military with this [classic hierarchy]: one person at the top, with two to seven subordinates below that, and two to seven below that, and so on. That’s what organizational theory says works,’ he explains. Against Al Qaeda, however, ‘we had to change our structure, to become a network. We were required to react quickly. Instead of decisions being made by people who were more senior—the assumption that senior meant wiser—we found that the wisest decisions were usually made by those closest to the problem.’”

General Stanley McChrystal experienced a reinvention challenge of his own when the threat of Al Qaeda emerged and the U.S. military had to rethink its assumptions. ‘We thought we knew the rules, that we knew what it took to be successful,’ he says. ‘But the sport we had been playing wasn’t good enough for the sport we were required to be effective at.’ McChrystal, 58, speaks with the stentorian assurance of an old-school leader. But what he has to say doesn’t fit that profile. ‘We grew up in the military with this [classic hierarchy]: one person at the top, with two to seven subordinates below that, and two to seven below that, and so on. That’s what organizational theory says works,’ he explains. Against Al Qaeda, however, ‘we had to change our structure, to become a network. We were required to react quickly. Instead of decisions being made by people who were more senior—the assumption that senior meant wiser—we found that the wisest decisions were usually made by those closest to the problem.’”

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    This is also true in business — the sales rep in the field quite often has a better handle on marketing direction than...
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