I’m reading The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. I was fortunate enough to talk with Ori the other day (was it 2 weeks ago, Ori?) on the phone, and we really hit it off right out of the gate. He loved how PodCamp was organized and executed, with minimal figurehead status and with lots of distributed responsibility. Further, he loved how the future PodCamps were the product of other people’s efforts.
The book is amazing, because as I’m moving through the chapters, it tells me a few things at the same time:
1.) I favor decentralized lower-level leadership and execution, though I function well with benevolent dictators, too. I’ve personally worked my entire life on the hybrid: finding folks I am willing to follow, and then running hard and fast alongside these people until I understand enough to split off and carry on my own missions. This book seems to validate my methodology.
2.) Podcasting, Videoblogging ,and the whole new media unempire (go “un”) is basically related to this book, too. The fact that I am now the media, that YOU are the media, that nobody on a television network is going to keep my signal off the net, is very much a decentralization play. So this book is necessary reading material for the revolution.
On page 55 of the hardcover, there’s a table showing the traits of decentralized organizations. Here’s the quick precis:
- There’s no one in charge.
- There are no headquarters.
- If you thump it on the head, it survives.
- There’s an amorphous division of roles.
- If you take out a unit, the organization is unharmed.
- Knowledge and power are distributed.
- Units are self-funding.
- You canot count the participants.
- Working groups communicate with each other directly.
Boy, you can apply that entire list to PodCamp as an entity, can’t you? Ditto half the other things I’m working on right now. I’ve crafted Grasshopper New Media to need minimal top-down contact for this reason, as well. Sure, we have some maintenance and logistics efforts that we’ve centralized, but not because they HAVE to be. Technically, every single show could spin off and do its own thing.
Get This Book
Get online and see if your library carries this book, or ask someone if you can borrow their copy. But I think this is certainly a reat text to be used as a manifesto for getting things done in the new media revolution. I think Ori and Rod have something here for us to consider, and we should read through it, see if we agree, and keep the mindset in our thoughts as we organize our new future networks.
Take Network2. It’s a place to share with you some of the best independent TV shows created for the internet. There are folks managing the servers, but really, it’s YOUR place, your directory. If you see something missing, you can submit it to be added. In the future, that might even open up to be an “add it yourself” scenario (who knows?).
Take Grasshopper. We’ve got leadership and vision, but the executive producers are their own people, and are on the hook to go create their own pools of talent, grow their own shows. It’s fairly close to the model, or it’s getting there.
What about you? Are you a starfish organization?
Check out The Star Fish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.”
And Ori, I’ll see you at the party.