Book Review: The Starfish and the Spider

What will happen to your organization if something happens to you?

Over and over again I've seen InterVarsity chapters collapse when Staff transition and when key student leaders leave campus. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a chapter collapse for any other reason.

Here in South Florida, we're trying to raise up communities on campus that thrive, that last, that aren't tossed aside every time leadership transitions happen. One way to do this is to amp up our leadership development process. Another way is to create a fundamentally different kind of community. A leaderless organization.

In The Starfish and the Spider, Brafman and Beckstrom explore leaderless organizations.

Their metaphor works like this ...

Cut a spider in half and a spider dies. You won't have to deal with the spider anymore. Cut a starfish in half and the starfish will re-grow the missing pieces. Then you'll have two starfish to deal with.

Leaderless organizations respond rapidly to challenge and are hard to defend against. They grow stronger the harder they're pressed. The authors cite AA, Wikipedia, al Qaeda and Craigslist as real-world examples.

I find this so intriguing. What would it look like for us to structure our Area in such a way that we aren't dependent on any particular leader in order to carry forward to the future? I don't know. But I very much want to explore this possibility.

As for the book, I have to admit that it's a rough read. It has the bones of a Gladwell book, but lacks Gladwell's knack for storytelling.

But the strategy is better than the writing. And it's worth reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment