School of Herring: Leadership in a Distributed Collaborative World

When we improve leadership, we can improve anything. In this new millennium, society is changing and leadership is facing new challenges. Command and control is ceding to peer-to-peer collaboration. The importance of vision and values is heightened.

The School of Herring brings you leadership insights in short videos and blog texts. It strives to inspire the skills required in the era of global organizations.

My name is Marten Mickos. I am a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and business leader. The knowledge shared in these pages has been gathered first-hand through my various experiences of utter failure and smashing success. As the CEO of MySQL we pioneered open source software and built a company worth a billion dollars. At Eucalyptus we recovered strongly from near-fatal hardship. As SVP at Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard I have experienced leadership at the largest scale.

Why the name School of Herring? Although we all have unique skills and strengths, at the end of the day we are all similar human beings, striving to collaborate in order to accomplish our goals. A modern organization is like a school of fish, operating at great precision through subtle coordination of vast numbers of essentially equal members. The organization is led from the front, center, back and sides. A common vision and common values keep the group together. The group is powerful, effective and protected. Everyone has a voice. All are needed; no one is irreplaceable.

The School of Herring is a voluntary and independent non-profit project.

Marten Mickos on Twitter – LinkedIn – Wikipedia – Email [email protected]

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School of Herring in the Media

School of Herring Credits

Marten Mickos

Herring aggregate together in huge numbers. Chains of schools can be up to one hundred kilometres long. They can occupy up to five cubic kilometres, totalling three billion fish in a single school. The schools have very precise arrangements which allow them to maintain relatively constant cruising speeds. The fish have excellent hearing, and their schools react rapidly to a predator. They keep their distance from a cruising predator like a killer whale, forming a vacuole, which looks like a doughnut from a spotter plane.


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  1. HI Marten, great initiative and great content. Your advice might not be easy to follow but it is certainly very easy to understand. It makes a ton of sense. Question for you. Why creating your own independent blog rather than trying to collaborate with any existing education if not even communication platform? Obviously this approach gives you freedom but the other one would have given you reach and the possibility of collaborating with others.

    • Thanks Luigi! We will be experimenting with various formats and channels. Nothing is cast in stone. But I can admit that I have a curiosity about HOW to create a video and text blog site, and I am eagerly learning as we go. At a later stage we may collaborate with other sites.

  2. Great initiative Marten. Your advice has always been very practical and very easy to understand and follow. I hope to have more interviews sooner having rich contents with very pragmatic advices..

  3. You should create a playlist into your Youtube site so it would be easier to follow. People could play the whole list without changing the pages…

  4. Great content, Mårten! I really like the practical, hands-on approach to leadership. At some point, if you’re interested, we at would love to collaborate with the School of Herring and share your leadership advice with our followers. Keep up the good work!

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