Leading at Scale with Agility

Leading at Scale with Agility

Our world is moving at an ever faster pace. As business owners, we must be nimble, innovative and ever-changing. We must lead our teams well and empower them to act for the good of all.

This month’s featured article is from Brad Smith, Intuit’s President & CEO. Brad shares some key leadership strategies from General Stanley McChrystal’s recent book, My Share of the Task. It’s similar to our 6 Keys to a Winning Team teaching and is another great example of how it works – in this case in larger companies with small teams.

Enjoy the read.


Ormond Rankin



Leading at Scale with Agility


Brad Smith

President & Chief Executive Officer, Intuit
Today’s pace of change and innovation is accelerating at unprecedented speed. The tools to innovate have never been more broadly available – making barriers to entry lower, and customer expectations higher. This new dynamic marketplace presents organizations with two choices: either move faster than the market and define the standard, or become yesterday’s news. There is no third option.


Everyone loves the pace and efficiency that small, agile teams can provide. In fact, we organize Intuit into small, fast-moving teams. Amazon’s “two pizza team” concept is also well documented, and the list of other successful companies embracing the concept is long. But many of today’s problems cannot be solved by a small team alone. They require the coordination of many small teams working in unison, leaving today’s leaders with a daunting challenge: how to be as agile and innovative as a small two pizza team, at scale?


Recently, I had the opportunity to read My Share of the Task by General Stanley McChrystal, as well as hear him speak to a round table of Silicon Valley CEOs. McChrystal described steps the United States Military took in order to compete with threats that increasingly come from small, mobile, and continuously adapting organizations (or cells). The world of business has often borrowed from the wisdom of the military over the centuries, and I found this to be no exception. McChrystal articulated several concepts that I believe can help any leader create an organization at scale that must compete with smaller, nimble competitors.


The four tenets of his leadership model, encapsulated in the McCrystal Group Cross-Lead framework are to build:

  • Common Purpose: All organizations need a common mission that unifies the disparate teams and touches an organization’s heart, mind and soul. In other words – one team, one mission.
  • Shared Consciousness: The best decisions are made in the field and not on a whiteboard in headquarters. This requires an open, real-time flow of information to provide all team members with the appropriate context for framing their local decisions. It also requires leaders to learn to “think out loud”, exposing their decision-making principles and teaching the organization “why” certain decisions and trade-offs are being made.
  • Empowered Execution: Empower teams to move quickly on their own when they determine the fastest path to execution – and once proven successful, quickly communicate that practice so that other teams adopt it.
  • Trust: In the military, your very life depends on trusting your fellow team member. This requires a belief in the competence of others, as well as the trust in their benevolence to have your best interest in mind. The same is true in business, as more and more organizations operate in networked situations where their ultimate success comes from the collective work of the whole.



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