Janine Benyus, talking at TED, describes biomimicry as learning an idea from an organism and then applying it – the conscious emulation of life’s genius. Bioteaming, then, is the biomimicry of social structures- taking ideas from Nature about how groups perform and intra-operate, and applying them to enhance how we humans work together in groups and teams. Doug Philips aka teamite#222* and bioteams guest author muses.
Dr R Meredith Belbin, regarded as the father of “team-role” theory and one of the worlds foremost experts on teams, predicts that our organizational teams will evolve into more biologically inspired forms.
Fritjof Capra says organisations are not just like living systems – they are living systems!
Sunday Times Online, May 07, 2006 reports in Dolphins ‘know each other’s names’ that DOLPHINS may be even closer to humans than previously realised, with new research showing they communicate by whistling out their own “names”.
A significant body of research into evolution now indicates that survival of the fittest is only a part of the story. Life did not take over the globe by combat but by networking!
Pheromone-based messaging is the oldest and most evolved form of biological signalling. It uses chemicals to effect communications between animals and insects through smell and taste. There is an excellent opportunity for today’s virtual teams and mobile groups to re-organise the way they use their internet, email, messaging and presence-aware technologies to gain huge benefits from it.
The Trinity of all Living Systems – A Design Framework for Bioteams. Dr Humberto Maturana and Dr Franciso Varela, 2 Chilean biologist/neuroscientists, in their ground-breaking book “The Tree of Knowledge – The Biological Roots of Human Understanding”  suggest a simple but profound model, represented graphically below, which wonderfully captures the essence of living systems.
Image Source: Chalkdust Magazine
I have been reading Lord Sacks daily thoughts “Celebrating Life” and was impressed by his piece on “The Prisoners Dilemma”. The Dilemma in a nutshell is that 2 prisoners are given the chance to do a deal and betray each other.
Lord Sacks is the UK’s chief Rabbi and highlights one vital aspect of the dilemma which I had not previously paid enough attention to – the fact that the two prisoners are not allowed to speak to each other!
What do we mean by “Teamwork”? We often talk about Teamwork as if its a singular thing however in nature there are 4 different types – each of which have a very precise meaning. I call these Solowork, Crowdwork, Groupwork and Teamwork itself. An effective team knows how and when to use each type – an ineffective team only uses one!
Whilst it’s true that the rise Artificial Intelligence threatens industries and jobs alike, it also presents an opportunity for humans and teams to embrace the new paradigm by staying one step ahead and making themselves smarter and more capable in harnessing collective intelligence. The term collective intelligence refers to the resulting knowledge or wisdom that ensues when many agents or individuals are involved in a group and where this type of ‘intelligence’ cannot exist through an individual endeavour. It is therefore important that in the face of tectonic shifts in technology and the rise of intelligent machines coupled with the threat of automation; teams and humans embrace a form of ‘swarming’ in order to not only future proof themselves but create the right type of environment to achieve outcomes that could not be reached through individual pursuits. In this article, I refer to various examples of how Nature’s team achieve this ‘swarm intelligence’ and appropriate how these can be achieved in the organisational setting through Bioteaming.