Chris Fussell, former United States Navy SEAL officer and partner at the McChrystal Group leadership development firm, spoke to nearly 500 students, faculty and business community partners at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, March 7. The second speaker for the annual Lewis E. Harris Lecture Series sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business and College of Law, Fussell spoke about developing teams in a complex world.
Fussell, who co-authored the New York Times
best-selling book, “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World,” and the Wall Street Journal
bestseller, “One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams,” advises business executives on restructuring their organizations in an ever-shifting world marketplace. At the Harris Lecture, he took his message to a mostly younger audience.
“My message to younger students entering the business world is, ‘We are in a state of dramatic change right now so you’ve got to be ready to sprint for the next decade after you graduate,’” said Fussell. “It’s not just about working hard, but really thinking through the future of how your organization makes decisions and communicates on a minute-by-minute basis. Students need to think deeply about how they communicate. Are they including enough of the right people fast enough?”
He emphasized the need for organizations to put themselves in a better position to adapt to change. For students, he stressed the need for lifelong learning.
“Things are different every six months. If you’re not committed to be a student throughout your life, you’re going to be in trouble really quickly. You’re getting a great education at Nebraska and it starts getting dated the day you drive off the parking lot. You’ve got to keep up, which has always been the mark of successful people, but it’s even more paramount today,” he said.
Fussell, originally commissioned as a naval officer in 1997, spent 15 years in combat zones throughout the world. He lived through the post-9/11 environment where change was forced upon organizations in order for them to operate effectively.
“We brought a very traditional top-down structure into a decentralized network-age fight,” he said. “We had to revamp our culture with an interconnected network-based system without losing the discipline of the top-down structure. We had to find a new balance point. We did it very informally starting around 2003. Now I see the change happening everywhere throughout industry, politics, health care and international relations. That’s the fun discussion to have with students as they prepare to enter the workforce.”
Fussell met with members of the Nebraska Business Student Advisory Board over lunch, and spoke with faculty and staff about his experiences. Dr. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business, introduced Fussell at the Lied Center, and thanked the Harris family for making the event happen.
“This lecture series was designed to bring internationally recognized business experts to campus to engage students, faculty and business community partners. It’s an ongoing discussion and examination of issues that affect relationships across all business industry. Chris’ talk was the perfect complement to our previous Harris Lecture featuring John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market,” said Farrell.