Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Review: Finishing the Starfish and Spider

The reading list off to the right has stayed the same for embarrassingly long. I had a little time today and thought I would knock off one of them, The Starfish and the Spider.

So I've now read chapter 4: Standing on Five Legs (in decentralized organizations):
1) the role somewhat independent circles of groups play (Bibleheads, practioners, church leaders)
2) the role of catalysing personalities (me and Drury for the seminary)
3) the centrality of common ideology (real denominations have seminaries!)
4) connecting with pre-existing networks (IWU and the Wesleyan Church)
5) having champions who make it happen (President Smith and Russ Gunsalus for the seminary)

I've read chapter 5: The Hidden Power of the Catalyst

I've read chapter 6: Taking on Decentralization
Interesting stuff on Al-Qaeda in here, stuff I've been saying since I started this blog in 2004.
1) Changing Ideology
2) Centralize them (give their catalysts cows to compete over)
3) Decentralize yourself (if you can't beat them, join them)

I've read chapter 7: The Combo Special: The Hybrid Organization
Had an MA student do a final project on the Hybrid Church. Watch out!
1) Some centralized companies decentralize the customer experience (eBay is the model here)
2) Some centralized companies decentralize parts of the company (GE, for example)

I've read chapter 8: In Search of the Sweet Spot
That is, the right hybrid mix between centralization and decentralization. GM is the loser in this chapter, Toyota the winner. The sweet spot can shift rapidly, which is why those who were massively on top in the music industry 9 years ago are going out of business today. Apple brilliantly capitalized on the change with iTunes.

And I read chapter 9: The New World:

1. Diseconomies of scale--smaller can be better
2. The Network effect--overall value increases with each member added to the network
3. The Power of Chaos--which optimizes creativity. Increased, tidy organizational structures can be an organization's downfall (knowing looks to friends)
4. Knowledge is at the edge--The best understanding of the organization is often at its fringes
5. Everyone wants to contribute
6. Beware the hydra--cut off one head and two more come back in a decentralized setting (which is why I said the Bush administration with terrorism and Israel with Lebanon were like a couple fools stomping on an ant hill.
7. Catalysts rule
8. The values are the organization (ideology, common goals and values are what make a decentralized organization go)
9. Measure, monitor, and manage (that is, the circles)--but do it as a cheerleader
10. Flatten or be flattened.

Sometime this week you should see my next book purchase in this area (what's wrong with me... I haven't read a fifth of the books I bought just last month!):


Anonymous said...

anything on the role of having a "vision" for the organization?


Ken Schenck said...

I think the author's would say that the "catalysts" do the lion's share of stirring up vision, but that in starfish organizations, vision is the ideology that is shared by everyone. It is a key feature that keeps something like Craigslist or eBay or AA going.