333 – Chris Fussell: Former Navy SEAL & Partner at McChrystal Group

Chris Fussell is a Partner at McChrystal Group, where he heads up the McChrystal Group Leadership Institute. Chris is an author of the 2015 New York Times bestseller, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World and 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 the next 15 years on US Navy SEAL Teams, leading SEAL elements in combat zones around the globe. From war-torn Kosovo, to counter-terrorism 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 US military’s Special Operations community, first on SEAL Teams Two and Eight, then in the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

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 first-hand the Special Operations community’s transformation into a successful, agile network. In 2012, Chris left the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in order to join McChrystal Group.

Chris is also a Senior Fellow for National Security at New America, a Washington, DC-based non-partisan think tank dedicated to understanding the next generation of challenges facing the United States. Chris is actively involved in several non-profits dedicated to helping veterans and their families, and holds a seat on the Board of Directors for the Navy SEAL Foundation. He is also a lifetime member to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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.

One Mission

How Leaders Build a Team of Teams

How could we be so highly competent at the small team level, yet incapable of moving with the same agility as an enterprise? If we did not align behind one mission, our individual capabilities would prove insufficient. We could all be great and still lose.

This problem—which former Navy SEAL Chris Fussell observed as part of General Stanley McChrystal’s Special Operations Task Force—doesn’t keep just military commanders up at night. It plagues leaders of countless organizations in today’s complex and fast-moving world. Too often, well-built companies end up with teams stuck in their own silos, pursuing goals and metrics in isolation. Their traditional bureaucratic structures create stability, scalability, and predictability; but in a world that demands constant adaptation, this traditional model fails.

In One Mission, Fussell offers powerful practical insights about the changes that took place within the Special Operations community, when previously isolated and distrustful tribes became part of a culture that was bigger than any team. By committing to one, higher mission, the community’s overall capability far exceeded the sum of its parts.

McChrystal and Fussell wrote about their experiences on the battlefield in their New York Times bestseller Team of Teams. It has been widely embraced in the business world as a roadmap for combining the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant organization. Since then, as a Partner at McChrystal Group, Fussell has helped companies in many fields implement the Team of Teams approach to tear down their silos, improve collaboration, and avoid turf wars.

Now, he has channeled all his experiences, both military and corporate, into One Mission. This practical guide will help leaders in any field:

  • Build a single aligning narrative for all of your teams, no matter how complicated your org chart, defining your organization, not just what the organization does.
  • Eliminate excessive bureaucracy by fostering interconnection outside of normal lines of authority.
  • Create liaison networks that help people from different silos collaborate quickly and effectively.
  • Define decision spaces that allow teams to have clear autonomy within the context of the greater mission.

Fussell shows how a wide range of companies, from Silicon Valley software giant Intuit to a government agency on the plains of Oklahoma, have used these methods to unite their people around a single compelling vision, resulting in superior performance.

Moreover, you’ll see how he partnered with Under Armour to synchronize its expanding supply chain, and a Texan emergency medical service organization to navigate a changing regulatory landscape. One Mission will help you follow their example to a more agile and resilient future.


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