Based on more than five years of research, this book compares decentralized organizations (“starfish”) and centralized organizations (“spiders”), with an emphasis on how decentralized organizations are changing the competitive landscape.
The book is full of insights for any CEO, much less compliance executives in regulatory affairs and quality systems.
There are several worthy points:
First, the authors make the case that the hybrid organization, like eBay, IBM, Google, Sun, Apple, Amazon, Intuit and GE, represents the corporate structure of the future.
For those in compliance, studying the profile of GE and its decentralization within a central structure will provide multiple strategy clues.
Second, self-enforcement of norms is inevitably more powerful than rules because norms are based on trust, commonality and shared purpose.
And third, Toyota (download the PDF of my article, “Elucidation: Lessons from the Auto Industry,” June 2007, BioProcess International) is used as an example of an organization that has found the profitable middle ground between decentralization and sufficient structure and controls to ensure quality and consistency.
If you’re planning your long-term strategy, The Starfish and the Spider is a required (albeit, quite enjoyable) pre-read.