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Starfish and the Spider

By       Message Burl Hall     Permalink
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Are linear systems of management truly the best? Or are systems that are more diffuse, such as the 99% movement or, even, some of the Native tribes throughout the world? If the on-line radio show, Envision This, is any indication, the diffuse structure wins hands down....or should we say, the entire body wins for in every decision, there is no cell that is not involved.

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The following is written by Meredith Hall.

A book called THE STARFISH AND THE SPIDER is helping me to understand why Burl and I may have failed in past ventures to promote a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future and why we are apparently succeeding with ENVISION THIS! our blog talk radio show. ( I see 2600+ listens on one episode as almost "viral" although that's probably low by some people's standards. It's sure an encouraging start.) First off, "starfish" enterprises are leaderless, without a head that can be chopped off, and able to regenerate if a leg is chopped off or even the whole entity chopped up. "Spider" organisms/organizations also stand on multiple legs, but die instantly if the head is chopped off. For some of our past ventures, we have been the head (and have chopped off our own heads on the guillotine of self-doubt at the first signs of failure.) In the case of one of the ecovillages we tried to create, someone was certainly queen of the national funding project, and somebody else claimed to become the HEAD locally, so we chopped him off, being fed-up with top-down cultures. In another ecovillage attempt, the landowners (and therefore virtual heads) self-destructed in a marital breakdown. For our self-published books, we have failed to have an adequate platform (publisher) and aren't very good champions (salespeople).

So what is different this time? It appears we're now a "starfish" venture. According to Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, the authors of the book, such ventures have five legs: circles, the catalyst, ideology, a pre-existing platform, and the champion. We have built up our supporting circle through lasting friendships, communication, support, and respect with contacts from prior ventures. We have divested ourselves of pyramidical relationships. We are acting as catalysts (primary facilitators) by interviewing prominent visionaries who are succeeding in creating the kind of future we envision, providing them the opportunity to shine and to personalize their message to the public and stepping into the background ourselves. Our ideology--a firm belief in the crucial need for a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable lifestyle, community, and culture--has grown stronger through all our experiences and has now become something we are willing to dedicate our lives, work, and energies to.

Our pre-existing platform, the web and its offshoot, blog talk radio, is firmly in place and thriving. This is a truly new element in this venture. Our champions (notice the plural) are the successful visionaries we interview weekly. They are the salespeople who are spreading the word of their episodes (and thereby our show) and drawing in new listeners on a weekly basis. They are even teaching us to become better salespeople although we aren't champions. We don't need to be. We need to be ourselves=catalysts and let them be the champions=themselves. It's like magic!

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Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)
 

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