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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Business Structures Help Fight War on Terror

That’s right, small businesses have what it takes. And the U.S. military is finally starting to see that. Recently, the Pentagon has been passing around The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, a book originally written for businesses.

The basic idea of the book is that “centralized organizations are like spiders and can be destroyed with an attack to the head . . . decentralized organizations transfer decision-making to leaders in the field [and] are like starfish — no single blow will kill them, and parts that are destroyed will grow back.”

Sound familiar? That’s because our war with terror is against organizations that are decentralized. We can take out leader after leader, but until we understand their mentality completely, we won’t get very far because there are leaders all over the place.

How does this connect to small business? Well, actually, many small businesses across the national have long embraced the “starfish” mentality. Only now is the U.S. military catching on to the fact that they could learn a lot from fellow citizens on the home front.

A great example of a centralized organization (a “spider”) is Enron. The CEO went down, and took everyone with him. That wouldn’t be the case with a decentralized business. Employees are split into parts of the whole unit based upon their task, given goals to achieve, and then all given equal opportunity to achieve them.

Everyone is trying to be the best, so everyone is doing their best, which results in a well-oiled, fit business machine. Each person is equally important to the best possible function of that machine. Granted, occasionally someone will malfunction, and may even slow the machine down a bit, but it quickly repairs itself.

And, yes, there is someone to answer to, but the idea of CEO is a bit different. Instead of always looking over your shoulder and giving orders, he is more or less there as a guide. What he tells you to do is more like a suggestion, and, out of respect (not fear), you take his advice.

Decentralized businesses don’t always work, however. As you might expect, there are instances where things get out of control… one or more people trying to take over, etc. It just depends on the number of employees and the personalities you’re dealing with. Decentralized businesses are for those who want to share the glory, not hoard it all for themselves.

It’s those weaknesses that our military intends to focus on in the war against terrorism. Taking hints from The Starfish and the Spider is a good start. We may just be well on our way to a victory… not to mention some rocking places to work.

• Can Small Business Help Win the War?

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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, February 11th, 2019 @ 12:04 AM CDT

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