The Starfish and the Spider is a great – and quick – read for anyone interested in introducing flexibility and adaptability in to centralized teams and working environments, and in making decentralized organizations more structured.
More and more in project management I see this tug of war between flexibility and rigidity. Leaders and managers can drive themselves up a wall trying to find that right balance. It can be a daily struggle giving team members the freedom to organize and execute in a way that is efficient for them, while maintaining a background system necessary to foster effectiveness and deliver solid results for project stakeholders and sponsors.
The Starfish and the Spider, which spends a great deal of time examining catalysts for change, is a catalyst in itself in helping the reader understand how too much emphasis can be placed on “the leader.” In many instances, leadership is less about position and more about action. The newest and most junior member of a team can become one of the most influential leaders by recognizing what needs to be done and doing it… provided they are empowered to do it.
That’s where the book comes in with innovative reflections on how positional leaders can create the environment necessary for a successful leaderless team or organization to grow.
If you are looking for ways to jumpstart a team or environment bogged down in an ossified mindset dependent on centralized leadership, give this book a look. Even if you are not formally empowered to change the landscape in which you work, you will find ways to do so given what autonomy you do have to expand the idea that everyone can lead a team to powerful results.