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Starfish Leadership
Plexus Institute is collaborating with Ori Brafman, author of The Starfish and the Spider, to produce highly interactive and experiential programs for leaders incorporating cutting edge ideas including:
  • Developing and leading networked organizations
  • Using the complexity framework to understand organizational dynamics
  • Innovation and design thinking
  • Liberating structures to engage everyone across organizational boundaries
  • Trust based collaboration
If you cut off a spider's head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish's leg it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. Traditional top-down organizations are like spiders, but now starfish organizations are changing the face of business and the world.
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? After five years of ground-breaking research Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have discovered 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 US government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success. - from the book jacket
The program has already been adopted by the US Army as part of an intensive experiential training for officers with a goal of "developing individuals with the ability to exploit opportunity, continuously learn, and deal with uncertainty by empowering those with the most knowledge at the edge to act in ambiguous and complex environments. They will develop, empower, and integrate networks of peer to peer relationships by building circles and creating a learning environment across the organization."
Comments from participants included:
"I learned more about my own personal leadership and where I lead from during Starfish than I did in three tours as a company grade leader in Iraq."

"A life changing experience, unlike any leadership development program in the Army today."

"I am an order of magnitude better as a leader as a result of being part of this process"

Complexity Leadership New Conceptions for Dealing with Soldier Suicides by Robert M. Hill, Ed.D. from Military Review, January-February 2011.
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