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The Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider

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Highlights

  • Centralized and decentralized. A centralized organization is easy to understand. Think of any major company or governmental agency. You have a clear leader who’s in charge, and there’s a specific place where decisions are made (the boardroom, the corporate headquarters, city hall). Nevins calls this organizational type coercive because the leaders call the shots: when a CEO fires you, you’re out. (Location 255)
  • Decentralized systems, on the other hand, are a little trickier to understand. In a decentralized organization, there’s no clear leader, no hierarchy, and no headquarters. If and when a leader does emerge, that person has little power over others. The best that person can do to influence people is to lead by example. Nevins calls this an open system, because everyone is entitled to make his or her own decisions. (Location 264)
  • You wanted to follow Geronimo? You followed Geronimo. You didn’t want to follow him? Then you didn’t. The power lay with each individual—you were free to do what you wanted. The phrase “you should” doesn’t even exist in the Apache language. Coercion is a foreign concept. (Location 273)
  • This is the first major principle of decentralization: when attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized. (Location 290)
  • Get this: for the starfish to move, one of the arms must convince the other arms that it’s a good idea to do so. The arm starts moving, and then—in a process that no one fully understands—the other arms cooperate and move as well. The brain doesn’t “yea” or “nay” the decision. In truth, there isn’t even a brain to declare a “yea” or “nay.” The starfish doesn’t have a brain. There is no central command. (Location 409)
  • second principle of decentralization: it’s easy to mistake starfish for spiders. (Location 416)
  • It’s not that open systems necessarily make better decisions. It’s just that they’re able to respond more quickly because each member has access to knowledge and the ability to make direct use of it. (Location 465)
  • third principle of decentralization: an open system doesn’t have central intelligence; the intelligence is spread throughout the system. Information and knowledge naturally filter in at the edges, closer to where the action is. (Location 467)
  • The fourth principle of decentralization is that open systems can easily mutate. (Location 474)
  • the fifth principle of decentralization: the decentralized organization sneaks up on you. Because the decentralized organization mutates so quickly, it can also grow incredibly quickly. (Location 489)
  • This is the sixth principle of decentralization: as industries become decentralized, overall profits decrease. (Location 534)
  • Units of a decentralized organization are by definition completely autonomous. Cut off a unit and, like a starfish, the organization generally does just fine. In fact, the severed arm might grow an entirely new organization. (Location 572)
  • In starfish organizations, power is spread throughout. Each member is assumed to be equally knowledgeable and has power equal to that of any other member. (Location 584)
  • We learned an important lesson—from the user perspective, people don’t notice or care whether they’re interacting with a spider or with a starfish. As long as they’re given freedom, as long as they can do what they want to do, they’re happy. (Location 738)
  • This brings us to the seventh principle of decentralization: put people into an open system and they’ll automatically want to contribute. (Location 825)
  • When you give people freedom, you get chaos, but you also get incredible creativity. (Location 913)
  • As a result of this self-enforcement, norms can be even more powerful than rules. (Location 983)

public: true

title: The Starfish and the Spider longtitle: The Starfish and the Spider author: Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2016-11-17 type: books tags:

The Starfish and the Spider

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • Centralized and decentralized. A centralized organization is easy to understand. Think of any major company or governmental agency. You have a clear leader who’s in charge, and there’s a specific place where decisions are made (the boardroom, the corporate headquarters, city hall). Nevins calls this organizational type coercive because the leaders call the shots: when a CEO fires you, you’re out. (Location 255)
  • Decentralized systems, on the other hand, are a little trickier to understand. In a decentralized organization, there’s no clear leader, no hierarchy, and no headquarters. If and when a leader does emerge, that person has little power over others. The best that person can do to influence people is to lead by example. Nevins calls this an open system, because everyone is entitled to make his or her own decisions. (Location 264)
  • You wanted to follow Geronimo? You followed Geronimo. You didn’t want to follow him? Then you didn’t. The power lay with each individual—you were free to do what you wanted. The phrase “you should” doesn’t even exist in the Apache language. Coercion is a foreign concept. (Location 273)
  • This is the first major principle of decentralization: when attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized. (Location 290)
  • Get this: for the starfish to move, one of the arms must convince the other arms that it’s a good idea to do so. The arm starts moving, and then—in a process that no one fully understands—the other arms cooperate and move as well. The brain doesn’t “yea” or “nay” the decision. In truth, there isn’t even a brain to declare a “yea” or “nay.” The starfish doesn’t have a brain. There is no central command. (Location 409)
  • second principle of decentralization: it’s easy to mistake starfish for spiders. (Location 416)
  • It’s not that open systems necessarily make better decisions. It’s just that they’re able to respond more quickly because each member has access to knowledge and the ability to make direct use of it. (Location 465)
  • third principle of decentralization: an open system doesn’t have central intelligence; the intelligence is spread throughout the system. Information and knowledge naturally filter in at the edges, closer to where the action is. (Location 467)
  • The fourth principle of decentralization is that open systems can easily mutate. (Location 474)
  • the fifth principle of decentralization: the decentralized organization sneaks up on you. Because the decentralized organization mutates so quickly, it can also grow incredibly quickly. (Location 489)
  • This is the sixth principle of decentralization: as industries become decentralized, overall profits decrease. (Location 534)
  • Units of a decentralized organization are by definition completely autonomous. Cut off a unit and, like a starfish, the organization generally does just fine. In fact, the severed arm might grow an entirely new organization. (Location 572)
  • In starfish organizations, power is spread throughout. Each member is assumed to be equally knowledgeable and has power equal to that of any other member. (Location 584)
  • We learned an important lesson—from the user perspective, people don’t notice or care whether they’re interacting with a spider or with a starfish. As long as they’re given freedom, as long as they can do what they want to do, they’re happy. (Location 738)
  • This brings us to the seventh principle of decentralization: put people into an open system and they’ll automatically want to contribute. (Location 825)
  • When you give people freedom, you get chaos, but you also get incredible creativity. (Location 913)
  • As a result of this self-enforcement, norms can be even more powerful than rules. (Location 983)