The Starfish and the SpiderI read a fascinating book this weekend (after hearing the author speak live) called "The Starfish and the Spider - The Unstoppable power of Leaderless organizations" by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.
The thesis of the book is that organizations that are organized in autonomous cells are unstoppable and require different competitive techniques than those that are centralized with a leader. The analogy he uses is the starfish. If you cut a starfish in half, you get 2 starfish. If you cut it into 5 parts, you get 5 starfish. Unlike a traditional organization (the spider) where you cut off the head and you kill the organization.
Starfish - decentralized, get stronger if broken up, decentralize more when attacked, smaller win (diseconomy of scale), flat is better than heirarchy.
Spiders - centralized, die if the head is cut off, centralize more when attacked.
The books cites many examples of leaderless organizations (or ones that have some characterisitcs of one) including Al Qaida, Napster, Kazaa etc, the Apaches during Spanish times, Craiglist etc.
Good book, interesting read. Challenging thoughts.