What teams can learn from spiders

Our old friend the spider gets a lot of bad press. For example he/she has been used as an example of the weakness of centralised leadership models versus so-called “leaderless organisations” in The Starfish and The Spider. However spiders can teach teams, enterprises and networks two very important lessons: Strategic Readiness and Appropriate Response.


Spider Web in Dew

The unflushable power of alert spiders

But first a short story…..
My children hate spiders in the house and hold to the belief that if you just release them into the garden they will return (and in a pretty foul vengeful mood at that).
So the other night when I found a big spider (big in UK terms – tiny, I admit, in other hot countries terms) I confess I attempted to flush it!
I had captured it in an upturned glass with a bit of paper over the bottom of the glass to form a spider prison.
I entered the bathroom and held the glass over the WC bowl…..
Suddenly, like an experienced executioner, I ripped the paper away and looked to see the poor spider floating in the bowl.
But … no spider in water – spider still in glass….
I start to shake the glass with fast downward movements – still no spider in the water – spider still in the glass – what has gone wrong?
I take a closer look – the spider has spun an instant web from one side of the glass to the other and is clinging on for dear life.

Here are the lessons I learned from my spider:

LESSION 1: Strategic Readiness
The spider was totally ready at the drop of a hat to make a response – this resonates for me with the writings about “Strategy as Strategic Readiness” – be ready to execute but you may not know exactly when you need to.
LESSON 2: Appropriate Response
The spider’s response was totally appropriate to the threat – how often do we respond in an inept way to a threat or opportunity. Effective Teams know all about swarm responses.

A Happy Ending!

So what happened to my spider – I was so impressed by my spider I quietly put it in the garden.
What if he/she comes back – I don’t care – in fact I am looking forward to meeting it again.

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