The Starfish and the Spider: the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations by, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom

Summary:

Organizations can be categorized into either a starfish or spider organization. This metaphor relates to the characteristics of the animal. A spider has a central head and body with legs extending out. This is an organization with centralized leadership that dictates what every single leg does, or what every aspect of the organization does. If something were to happen to the head/body then the legs would fail to function. This could occur within organizations that would not function when their leadership is dismantled. A starfish is the opposite, if one leg is chopped off it will re-grow and flourish. The book highlights companies such as craigslist, Wikipedia, eBay, and organizations such as AA, music sharing services and others that operate as a starfish. They allow the people to have the power and when they do so the organization is able to accomplish much more. It also makes it extremely difficult to dismantle it since one leader cannot result in the downfall as other areas will survive and often rally to keep moving forward. This is still a continuum of sorts as some companies such as eBay have a centralized function of leadership but give great power for people to sell to people and rate each other all monitored by the people. This enables greater responsibility, sharing, and less oversight of management.

How it influenced me:

This was an interesting perspective of how an organization should function. As someone looking to grow and improve as a leader, it is unique to hear about putting power out to others. This is applicable in the concept of being a lovecat and sharing koozies. I had developed some koozies to give to lovecats and it became a time where I thought about making it something of an organization to reach out and help others. But I realized while reading this book I can allow them to connect better. It also stands out as another possible avenue of how to run a business in a different way than the status quo. As I progress as a leader moving up the ladder there will be opportunities for growth and providing direction for my section or perhaps the company overall. This is a reminder that just because we have done something a certain way, it doesn’t mean that we will have to continue that. It is important to be aware of changes that occur both through society and especially in regards to the use of technology. I need to make sure I shift my lens of focus to look for a change in trends.

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