Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reaching the World by Becoming a Starfish

A couple of weeks ago I read "The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations". I probably drove Robin crazy talking about it.

To me it has huge implications about our world: how fast things have changed (like someone could create a blog about their cat if they wanted to for example), the war the terror, and for me launching spiritual movements everywhere.

The general gist is easy to grasp. A starfish has no central control center. If you cut off a leg, it will regenerate itself and therefore has the potential to multiple exponentially. A starfish organization is one in where everyone contributes and leader isn't one who controls but influences.

I remember back 22 years ago when a guy named Eric Johnson came to my dorm room in Russell Hall at UGA and challenged me to join his Action Group bible study. He pulled out this chart showing how the world could be reached through a chain of discipleship. Sometimes I still wonder why we haven't done that. Well.. its in Brafman and Beckstrom's book the structural drawing of a spider organization looks just like that discipleship chain. We haven't done it because we can't control such a chain. If we could it would be about us and not Him defeating the whole purpose of discipleship and building his kingdom.

But if the body of Christ (or more specially CCC) could become like a starfish... give up control, pass on DNA in a simple way, and just let it happen, we could see movements everywhere.

Yet my biggest angst after reading this is that we are becoming more spider-like as we age. We have systems that are meant to support us but may actually be holding us back (HR, OPs, Legal Department, Risk Management, Training requirements...). Now that all not all bad but they should support us as we go after the vision of movements everywhere not hinder us. Protect us, not slap our hands.

I realize I could get in trouble for this last paragraph since my boss now has a blog and might read this. I wasn't referring to him. (Not the capitalized Him, Matt.) He fits more the starfish model of a catalyst leader...

CEO / Catalyst
boss / peer
command and control / trust
rational / emotionally intelligent
powerful / inspirational
directive / collaborative
in the spotlight / behind the scenes
order / ambiguity
organizing / connecting

Hmm.. now it sounds like I am brown-nosing. I will move on.

Another analogy that I heard last week from a fellow WSN Leader was about a failing company that this guy inherited. He changed the paradigm from where they saw the company as one that 'sold drill bits' to one that 'sold the ability to make holes'. In turn, they cornered the market on laser drills.

I think we need to change the paradigm from where we send college students to the world or we do evangelism to one where...we bring God's glory to the nations by partnering with the body of Christ to launch movements everywhere.


Jane said...

Sounds very intersting Andy. It is obvious this book got you to thinking. That is always a positive.
Have a great weekend.

Matt Mikalatos said...

I like how when you say you aren't talking about your (our) boss you say, "I'm not talking about Him." Wow! He gets a capital "H"! You must really respect him a great deal. Sometimes I don't even capitalize his name, just to remind myself that he's just a man, just like us. It's hard to keep that in mind sometimes. :)

Joan said...

These are some interesting concepts about leadership. I love to read material that makes me think about something in a different way. I think that is the beginning of changing paradigms.

Andy McCullough said...

Jane and Joan - Yeah I like books from time to time that make me think outside the box. Don't know if that would qualify me as a 'Cozy Reader' or a teacher.

Matt - Thanks for pointing out my captialization error. I like to make errors to remind me that that I am just a man. It's not hard to keep that in mind sometimes.

Global Road said...

Its so hard to be outed as just a man. After all these years of hiding and pretending, I've lost my special boss much for my compelling thoughts on arachnids and crustaceans.