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The Starfish and the Spider Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

If you cut off a spider's leg, it's crippled; if you cut off its head, it dies. But if you cut off a starfish's leg, it grows a new one, and the old leg can grow into an entirely new starfish.

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? How could winning a Supreme Court case be the biggest mistake MGM could have made?

After five years of ground-breaking research, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom share some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider argues that organizations fall into two categories: traditional "spiders", which have a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership, and revolutionary "starfish", which rely on the power of peer relationships.

The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders (such as the music industry vs. Napster, Kazaa, and the P2P services that followed). It 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. This audiobook explores:

  • How the Apaches fended off the powerful Spanish army for 200 years
  • The power of a simple circle
  • The importance of catalysts who have an uncanny ability to bring people together
  • How the Internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations
  • How Alcoholics Anonymous has reached untold millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader

The Starfish and the Spider is that rare book that will change how you understand the world around you.

©2006 Decentralized Revolutions, LLC; (P)2007 Gildan Media Corp

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (415 )
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  •  
    Chan Meng SingaporeSingapore 12-07-07
    Chan Meng SingaporeSingapore 12-07-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Centralized and decentralized models"

    Starfish -- decentralized communities or organizations, like the Apache tribes, Alcoholics Anonymous, P2P music sharing communities. (Starfish because starfish has no heads; if you cut a starfish into two, both will grow into new starfish)
    Spider -- traditional hierarchical organizations with strong central control.

    This book describes the various aspects of Starfish organisations / communities, and how such communities can pose a threat to traditional Spider businesses. While acknowledging the importance of Spider organizations for efficient resource utilization, the book discusses how we can look out for the emergence of Starfish business models, and even capitalize on them.

    This book will be an interesting introduction to the idea of decentralized models for listeners / readers unfamiliar with the centralized-decentralized dichotomy. However, I finished the book with a "so what" feeling. I did not feel there was any takeaway I could readily apply. Nonetheless, it did provoke my thinking about current operations in my organization.

    The book also talks about hybrid organizations like Amazon and Ebay. These are traditional organizations that have managed to tap on a wider starfish-like community to generate value for their businesses.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin 03-30-08
    Justin 03-30-08 Member Since 2016
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    "10,000ft Bungee Jump View"

    For those of you looking for precise methods and answers on how to change your business structure to incorporate a more de-centralized business system, this is not the book for you.

    Having said that, if you are looking for a way to broaden your mind's eye view of how social structures directly and indirectly affect business and commerce in the past, present and future then this book will be an invaluable tool.

    This book will really help set your mind racing and drawing colorations between the two types of structures in not just business but in all aspects of society. It is up to the reader to take the examples given, the pros and cons of the structures presented, what happens when the two structures go toe-to-toe and relate it to their specific business and industry.

    I can tell you this though, if you read this book and grasp the concepts and your competition doesn't, then you will have a definite advantage in recognizing current and future opportunities that your competition would NOT even be aware of.

    If for the above reason only, this is a MUST READ for any student of business.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim 06-10-12

    mostly nonfiction listener

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    "Loved It"

    Academic technology organizations are "starfishes" - in that authority and knowledge are distributed - and that we are mission driven. Recommended to anyone who thinks about organizational effectiveness. This book fits beautifully within the genre of short works that communicate serious academic research by telling interesting stories and providing fascinating examples. We don't assign enough books like this in our college courses - thinking that since is a "popularizing" book it must therefore be "inferior". I'm starting to think that we've been too snobby....and that in privileging good writing and storytelling over total academic rigor we may be inhibiting our students from absorbing the central points.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Colorado Springs, CO, United States 12-08-08
    Linda Colorado Springs, CO, United States 12-08-08 Member Since 2012
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    "Wonderful insight into modern organizations"

    The Starfish and the Spider offers a new look at how organizations run and what can make them successful (or not). Also the outlook on different leadership styles is telling. The real life examples from contemporary history and the present day are fascinating. It's a great book for people who are interested in organizational behaviors and attitudes, how to motivate people, and lovers of history. This is a well written and well read audiobook.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 12-15-10
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 12-15-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Needs Editing"

    This would be an interesting book if its contents weren't so repetitive. I got bored and frustrated with it, and ended up not finishing it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ambrose 06-25-12
    Ambrose 06-25-12

    Software Designer & Armchair Philosopher

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    "Misleading Title; So-So Text"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Skip all the first part. Most of it anyways--the bits that talk about the Apache, PETA, Napster, etc. So much of the book is wasted on things only marginally applicable to the main theme, at least what seemed to be the main thing--applying the leaderless approach to business. Also, holding up marginally legal/moral examples up as some of the prime examples wasn't a great strategy.


    What could Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Spend more time on the business aspects, less on the general.


    What does Sean Pratt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He was very understandable/clear voiced. Good balance of tone. Easy to listen to.


    Who do you think would benefit most from listening to The Starfish and the Spider?

    I would only recommend a cliff's notes for this one. Too much text, not enough substance.


    Any additional comments?

    Saying they are "unstoppable" in the title and then explaining how they can be stopped is kind of silly. Also, they seem to have very limited applicability in business--the promotion of the book makes it sound revolutionary, but it's just not that insightful, IMO.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rene V. Sotomayor 06-01-16
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    "AWESOME"

    The book is great and it help you better understand organizations their impact and ypur impact in them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MPK613 05-27-16
    MPK613 05-27-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Not what you are expecting"

    Though there is great basis behind these theories. if you are looking for a "how to incorporate". This is NOT the book to buy.
    if you enjoy a history lesson this is the book for you. couldn't even finish, too repetitive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lu Phillips Seattle, WA USA 05-25-16
    Lu Phillips Seattle, WA USA 05-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Powerful perspective, with implementation issues"

    Distinguishing between two types of organizational ideologies that both tend to exist in our blind spot was illuminating. Why impossible organizations like al Qaeda even exist, let alone thrive, is a fascinating look at the silent impact of our cultural way of working.

    That said, where is the road map and workbook to roll up our collective sleeves and go to work on generating a similarly fantastic result? The rules are more like guidelines to point readers toward accidental results like creating eBay.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 03-05-16
    Dan 03-05-16
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    "Intriguing, but insanely repetitive"

    Best part about this book? The narrator is quite good.

    That being said, this is the most repetitive book I have ever listened to. Each point is driven home so many times and with so many examples that it gives new meaning to the idea of beating a dead horse.

    To be fair, there is some fascinating material in here. I probably enjoyed the first chapter the most, being that I love music and it discusses the changes that recently occurred in the music industry... but from there the redundant style of writing set in. I think I could have learned this stuff from someone's summaries of each chapter on the Internet (which someone has probably posted somewhere, right?).

    The authors are clearly quite smart, and I'm sure the principles outlined here would be extremely meaningful to someone in the world of business.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Miles
    Northampton, United Kingdom
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Open your mind to a new type of leadership"
    Would you listen to The Starfish and the Spider again? Why?

    Yes, great stories and a wonderful metaphor of how a non-led organisation can change the world...


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Starfish and the Spider?

    Cut of the spider's head it dies... cut the starfish in two... you get two starfishes


    What does Sean Pratt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Yes, very well read


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Francine
    3/28/10
    Overall
    "A MUST read"

    An outstanding book that gives some great insight into decentralised organisations. The authors give you some great examples of how this works in some businesses today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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