The Five Legs of a Starfish: Real starfish have 5 legs and so does this analogous organizational model.
--Leg 1=Circles. In starfish organizations, people are more part of a circle than an organizational chart. Think independence and contribution. Nobody’s really in charge and, at the same time, everyone is expected to live by norms of the group and contribute as they are able.
--Leg 2=Catalysts. Circles don’t just appear. They happen because of catalysts—you remember them from high school chemistry…they accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. So, the catalyst develops and promotes the idea but ultimately doesn’t own it; everyone in the circle does.
--Leg 3=Ideology. Starfish organizations are motivated and directed by ideology, not profit. AA’s ideology is simple: People like you and me can help other people like us out of addiction. Think of ideology as the “calling” of the group.
--Leg 4=The Preexisting Network. Both the Quakers (with the anti-slavery issue) and AA (with its 12-step solution to alcoholism) provided structures that allowed great change to take place. The Internet is perfectly posed to spawn such future organizations due to its easy to use/equality-based structure.
--Leg 5=The Champion. While groups need a catalyst to start and then to spread, champions take things to the next level. As natural salespeople and leaders, they draw in people and spread the message.
The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.