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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #2

The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

The Starfish Concept: According to the authors, in a pure starfish organization there is no one in charge and no headquarters; it can survive having its head cut off; knowledge is distributed; the organization is flexible; you can’t count the participants. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example. Founded by one man, Bill Wilson, in 1935, AA remains a decentralized, locally run program that subscribes to the 12-step program. There’s no application to get in, no CEO, and it’s everywhere. Such an “open system” allows users/customers to participate and contribute to issues central to the organization in a way that spreads these organizations like wildfire. Look how long it took the Internet to take over the world—with no president. Here’s what the authors say: “…open systems [starfish] are about the users, not the leadership.”

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