I found this to be utterly engrossing. The metaphor of the starfish vs. the spider is bound to enter common parlance - the same way as "Tipping Point" did. This book is a sober but enlightening account of the issues of centralisation ("spider") vs. decentralisation ("starfish"), as well as suitable mixtures of the two.
The book also shows why there's a great deal at stake behind this contrast: issues of commercial revenues, the rise and fall of businesses, and the rise and fall of change movements within society - where the change movements include such humdingers as Slave Emancipation, Sex Equality, Animal Liberation, and Al Quaeda.
There are many stories running through the book, chosen both from history and from contemporary events. The stories are frequently picked up again from chapter to chapter, with key new insights being drawn out. Some of the stories are familiar and others are not. But the starfish/spider framework casts new light on them all.
Each chapter brought an important additional point to the analysis. For example: factors allowing de-centralised organisations to flourish; how centralised organisations can go about combatting de-centralised opponents; issues about combining aspects of both approaches. (The book argues that smart de-centralisation moves by both GE and Toyota are responsible for significant commercial successes in these companies.)
The book also spoke personally to me. As it explains, starfish organisations depend upon so-called "catalyst" figures, who lack formal authority, and who are prepared to move into the background without clinging to power. There's a big difference between catalysts and CEOs. Think "Mary Poppins" rather than "Maria from Sound of Music". That gave me a handy new way of thinking about my own role in organisations. (I'm like Mary Poppins, rather than Maria!)