The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom
If you cut off a spider?s head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish?s leg it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. Traditional top-down organizations are like spiders, but now starfish organizations are changing the face of business and the world.
What?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 women?s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths?
Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have discovered some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders and reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the U.S. government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success.
implement largescale rescue plans. Instead, before the spider could react, information had to be relayed up to the head, and then the head had to process the information, strategize, and finally react. Viewed from this perspective, what happened in 1935 in the Keys and in 2005 in New Orleans wasn't necessarily any one individual's fault. Yes, some individuals could have made better decisions, but the real culprit each time was the system itself. It's times like these that you need a starfish. If
are formed by concentric circles. This year they were named after planets. Radiating out from the playa, like bicycle spokes, are more streets named after the times of the day. So you might arrange to meet someone at, say, 10:30 and Venus. They found Craig's camp at 2:00 and Uranus. Craig is a Dartmouth grad who lives in San Francisco with his wife. By day, he's a product manager at a software company, but he's also an intensely creative person—the kind of guy who turned his basement into a fully
still talking about Leor Jacobi. If anyone personifies the champion, it's Leor. He's always been a natural people person and an even better salesman. As a small child, when he'd go out with his parents to a restaurant, he'd leave the table and engage the other diners in conversation. He couldn't help it. You'd think that while people might have found this cute at first, the cuteness quickly would have become an invasion of personal space. Not with Leor. Even at that age, Leor was able to draw
abolitionists began supporting this new ideology. Just as the abolitionist movement had piggybacked atop the Quaker network in England, the women's suffrage movement now piggybacked atop the abolitionist movement in the United States. Women's suffrage circles began forming all over the country. But just as access to a preexisting network wasn't sufficient for Sharp, gaining access to the abolitionist movement wasn't enough to catapult Stanton's movement to success. She needed a Thomas Clarkson or
inviting them in. "They'd start having places in my office to meet. And so the agency became this hub of activity." Working side by side, people began to trust each other. To further facilitate trust and bonding, Deborah focused on ideology. She'd refuse to talk to organizations about concrete strategy and nuts and bolts. She'd tell them, "I'm not going to talk about programs or budgets. I'm not going to talk about any of that right now." Instead, she asked the groups about "what keeps you up at