I recently finished reading an amazing book by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom called The Starfish and the Spider. The book talks about decentralized organizations versus centralized ones using examples from throughout history and many things that are happening all around us today. It was a very thought-provoking read and something that I will be thinking through for awhile. I would strongly recommend this to anyone. Here are a few excerpts from the description to whet your appetite.
“If you cut off a spiderâ€™s leg, itâ€™s crippled; if you cut off its head, it dies. But if you cut off a starfishâ€™s leg it grows a new one, and the old leg can grow into an entirely new starfish.
Whatâ€™s the hidden power behind the success of Wikipedia, craigslist, and Skype? What do eBay and General Electric have in common with the abolitionist and womenâ€™s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths? How could winning a Supreme Court case be the biggest mistake MGM could have made?
The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders (such as the music industry vs. Napster, Kazaa, and the P2P services that followed). It reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the US government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success. The book explores:
* How the Apaches fended off the powerful Spanish army for 200 years
* The power of a simple circle
* The importance of catalysts who have an uncanny ability to bring people together
* How the Internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations
* How Alcoholics Anonymous has reached untold millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader