Thursday, May 21, 2009

Starfish and Spiders

Superficially, starfish look like spiders. A spider is a creature with eight legs coming out of a central body. If you chop off the spider’s head, it dies. It could maybe survive without a leg or two, and probably even stand to lose a couple of its eight eyes, but it certainly couldn’t survive without its head. The spider has a centralized control system that is similar to most organizations.

A starfish, at first glance, is similar to a spider in appearance. Like the spider, the starfish appears to have a bunch of legs coming out of a central body. But the starfish is decentralized. It does not have a head. Its central body is not even in charge. In fact, the major organs are replicated throughout each and every leg. If you cut the starfish in half, the animal doesn’t die, it regenerates.

Similar to the starfish, there are a host of emerging organizations that function in a decentralized manner like the starfish. Examples include such entities as Visa, Skype, Craig’s List, Wikipedia, Alcoholics Anonymous and Apache Software, to name a few.

See also
More at