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The Starfish and the Spider
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About the Author

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.

Reviews

Brafman and Beckstrom, a pair of Stanford M.B.A.s who have applied their business know-how to promoting peace and economic development through decentralized networking, offer a breezy and entertaining look at how decentralization is changing many organizations. The title metaphor conveys the core concept: though a starfish and a spider have similar shapes, their internal structure is dramatically different-a decapitated spider inevitably dies, while a starfish can regenerate itself from a single amputated leg. In the same way, decentralized organizations, like the Internet, the Apache Indian tribe and Alcoholics Anonymous, are made up of many smaller units capable of operating, growing and multiplying independently of each other, making it very difficult for a rival force to control or defeat them. Despite familiar examples-eBay, Napster and the Toyota assembly line, for example-there are fresh insights, such as the authors' three techniques for combating a decentralized competitor (drive change in your competitors' ideology, force them to become centralized or decentralize yourself). The authors also analyze one of today's most worrisome "starfish" organizations-al-Qaeda-though that group undermines the authors' point that the power of leaderless groups helps to demonstrate the essential goodness and trustworthiness of human beings. (Oct. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"The Starfish and the Spider is a compelling and important book." --Pierre Omidyar, CEO, Omidyar Network and Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc.

"The Starfish and the Spider, like Blink, The Tipping Point, and The Wisdom of Crowds before it, showed me a provocative new way to look at the world and at business. It'salso fun to read!" --Robin Wolaner, founder, Parenting Magazine and author, Naked in the Boardroom

"A fantastic read. Constantly weaving stories and connections. You'll never see the world the same way again." --Nicholas J. Nicholas Jr., former Co-CEO, Time Warner

"A must-read. Starfish are changing the face of business and society. This page-turner is provocative and compelling." --David Martin, CEO, Young Presidents' Organization

"The Starfish and the Spider provides a powerful prism for understanding the patterns and potential of self-organizing systems." --Steve Jurvetson, Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

"The Starfish and the Spider lifts the lid on a massive revolution in the making, a revolution certain to reshape every organization on the planet from bridge clubs to global governments. Brafman and Beckstrom elegantly describe what is afoot and offer a wealth of insights that will be invaluable to anyone starting something new--or rescuing something old--amidst this vast shift." --Paul Saffo, Director, Institute for the Future "The Starfish and the Spider is great reading. [It has] not only stimulated my thinking, but as a result of the reading, I proposed ten action points for my own organization."--Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

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