Many people have been enchanted by the amazing video “The March of the Penguins” and most know that they have no leader. However few people go on to ask the obvious next question “If they have no leader then how do they know where to go?”….
We all know more than any of us
This is a very important question because it is right at the heart of the difference between traditional human teams and nature’s teams.
The answer is, of course, no one penguin knows where to go but collectively together they know where to go. In other words no single penguin may know the whole route – perhaps only fragments but if you add all these fragments together then the group as a whole know the route.
This is known as ‘collective intelligence’ and is also a key feature of other biological teams such as ant colonies and bird flocks.
Humankind is the only species who trust that a small group of “leaders”can know the best way for their whole group
Human team management is classic ‘command and control’ leadership – great for warfare but lousy for organisational teams especially when they are distributed or mobile or semi-formal or with loose boundaries.
Biological teams use a style known as “self-organising teams” where instead of relying on a few leaders every member of the group has the potential and capability to be a leader in some domain and at some time.
This is the first pillar of bioteams – converting ‘command and control’ teams with elite leadership structures into ‘self-organising teams’ with distributed peer-peer leadership structures.
This does not mean leaderless teams – nothing could be further from the truth – rather teams with many leaders each of whom operate in different domains – all interacting together in a highly co-operative and effective way.
Recover your lost ‘group messaging instincts’
The other major pillar of bioteams is the use of short messages rather than documents to produce effective action.