The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

Front Cover
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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - beaurichly - LibraryThing

Great, quick read with useful examples of how centralized, command and control organizations can fail by assuming that engagement with distributed (or "cloud-based") entities can follow the same rules ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bsanner - LibraryThing

A really interesting read on organizational structure and leadership. Traditional organizations are often hierarchical and authoritarian. Like spiders, if you cut off a leg (or department), it's ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Ori Brafman is a lifelong entrepreneur. His adventures include a wireless startup, health food advocacy group, and a network of CEOs working on public benefit projects, which he co-founded with Rod Beckstrom. He holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford Business School.


Rod A. Beckstrom is a serial start-up entrepreneur. He founded CATS Software Inc, which he took public and has helped start and build other high tech firms. Rod has served on various private and nonprofit boards. He holds a BA and MBA from Stanford and is a Fulbright Scholar.

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