Friday, February 15, 2008

The Starfish and the Spider

I'm getting ready to re-read a book that I think is one of the best books I've ever read about the church. I've decided to post here a review that I did then for another online group. This book is entitled "The Starfish and the Spider: the Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations" written by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. WOW! What a book! It really is one of the most exciting books I've ever read. Although this is a business book written for business leaders and not written for the church, I believe it is a wonderful description of the church that Jesus is building.

Spiders, as the authors explain, have a central body with a head which has a brain. Destroy the head and you destroy the spider. A starfish, however, is a set of neural networks with no central head. Cut off one of the arms and the starfish grows another arm. Some starfish can be cut into pieces and each piece will grow into another starfish.

The authors say there are two types of organizations - spider or starfish. Spider organizations have a head - a CEO, a president. They also have a headquarters where decisions are made. They have a rigid structure with rules and they have a hierarchical, command and control form of leadership. Starfish organizations, on the other hand, have no visible leader and no headquarters. Decisions are made by the members and the organization is policed by the members. The structure is flexible and can very easily mutate as necessary.

As I was reading this business book, I was thinking about the church the entire time. The early church met with leaders (apostles) in a set place (the temple) but because it had many starfish qualities, when persecution came, it was able to mutate into a predominately starfish organization. There was no longer a set headquarters and, when leaders were killed, new ones rose up to replace them. For example, when James was killed, Stephen and Philip rose up as new leaders and the church continued moving forward.

Another interesting characteristic is that starfish organizations are led by catalysts. A catalyst is a leader who leads by inspiration not by position. People follow him because they want to not because they have to. People respect this catalyst and, because they do, they'll follow his example even though he's not necessarily trying to get others to follow him. An example that came to mind while reading is the movie Braveheart. William Wallace started fighting and others followed him. He never sought to be a leader. He just inspired people to follow him. Also, catalysts just want to help people. They don't want to be in the limelight so, when the job is done, they leave.

Anyway, I could go on and on about this book. I kept reading portions of it to my hubby but there was so much I wanted to read to him. Maybe the whole book. This is a great book and I believe it is another example of how Father will often work through non-believers to reveal a truth that religion has kept hidden from the church.


Joel Brueseke said...

I really like this. In fact I linked to it at the end of my latest post. :) I'm going through quite a delightful time in which a whole bunch of thoughts that I've had for quite some time, as well as some new thoughts, finally seem to be coming together in somewhat of a cohesive way, and what is said in this post really goes along well with it all.

lydia joy said...

I like the spider and starfish anology for the church too!

Aida said...

Thanks, Joel and Lydia. I think it's a great analogy too. The book is a real eye opener regarding the church. Maybe I'll do another post with some additional thoughts.

Joel, I like what you've been sharing on your blog lately. I really think it helps to talk things out with others even if the conversations take place in cyberspace. I know it helps me to develop my thoughts as others share their thoughts.


Nicole's Godblog said...

Hey Aida!

I love this analogy! I never knew that a starfishes particals would grow back if they were cut off, that is some cool stuff! You learn something new everyday!

I love it!

Love In Freedom, Nicki!

Aida said...

Hi Nicki,

I didn't know it before either. I'd never thought about starfish one way or another until I read this book. Just to make sure, I did an online study of them and the authors are right. They really are fascinating creatures.