What’s being read around the Pentagon

USA Today: Can small businesses help win the war?The U.S. military is studying small companies such as 24-employee Craigslist to see how the online bulletin board has all but terrorized the newspaper industry by siphoning classified advertising. Such research may unearth ideas that will help the United States fight the war on terror.

How large, traditional companies fare in this fight may prove invaluable in developing a strategy against al-Qaeda. That’s why the military is going to school. A book making the rounds at the Pentagon is The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. It was written for a business audience, but military strategists are saying, “This is the best thing I’ve read that applies to counterterrorism,” says Lt. Col. Rudolph Atallah, a Defense Department director in international affairs.

The premise of The Starfish and the Spider 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. They are like starfish. No single blow will kill them, and parts that are destroyed will grow back.

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