Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Smart Swarm

I have been busy so today I quite enjoyed having time just to kick back and relax.

Weed the garden a bit. Harvest lots. A friend of mine calls it garden therapy. Great way to reframe weeding.

I also read a book. The Smart Swarm - How understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making and Getting Things Done. Yes - long subtitle.

I loved it and found it captivating.

The book explains how things like ant colonies interact (more interesting than you would think). First thing in the morning the scout ants take off. When they return, the gatherer ants leave but only if there is the right number of scouts returning - not enough or too many at once - danger. And if they find food, they carry it back to the nest and release a scent that other ants follow to find the food. Fascinating.

Ant colonies accomplish great things (especially termites that build termite hills to vent the carbon dioxide from the colony and provide fresh air from the wind).

Although colonies accomplish great things, the individual ants are not too bright.

Case after case in the book (like why birds that flock don't bump into each other) point out the intelligence of the group even if the individuals only focus on the few individuals around them. They are leaderless groups. Even the bee hive does not have a leader. The queen lays eggs but does not decide where they live or where the food is. Specialists each do their job.

So how does this relate to business? Studies have shown that the collective group is more intelligent than the individual.

So what does this say about the CEO or leader? As I always knew - often a leader can hinder decision making. It is incumbent on the leader (whether by formal position or just by reputation/expertise) to make others feel worthy of speaking up. And in many senses, minimizing themselves so the group can make the best decision.

Awesome book - captivating read.


At 10:06 AM, Blogger Patti said...

Awesome book - captivating read.

As your blog ... captivating reading ... great content.

thank you


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