Teams: Mother Natures Master Class, on ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Show

Ken Thompson and Scott Andrews discuss how we can make our teams, groups and communities much more satisfying, more productive and more agile by adopting some simple principles which Mother Nature has successfully evolved over millions of years to organize her teams. To listen to the show click here or to find out more about ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business RADIO SHOW click here

ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Radio


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Just finished listening to the interview... I like "failure is fossil", very nice aphorism.

It struck me as interesting that later in the show you contrasted wasps and bees. I couldn't help but think: Hmmm, wasps aren't fossils despite the innuendo/implication that they're not so good as bees because they don't swarm after attackers...

It might seem that a lot of what modern companies do is wasp-like. And they could justify their culture: "See! We're like wasps... we're good-stuff-from-nature..."
The difference is subtle, of course, because wasps don't have the command and control structure that most companies do.
From what I know of it Semco, Ricardo Semler's company is not only very successful, but it seems to be very wasp-like, or perhaps a kind of hybrid. I am very curious what you think of Semco (assuming you know much about it) esp. how you think it fits into your taxonomy of bioteaming...

Thank you for the interview and link, and for being, as usual, interesting and provocative!


P.S. What I know of Semco is from his books and videos: (10 minutes) (14 minutes) (48 minutes)
(found via

Hi Doug

Thanks for your comment and you are right we should not think that bees are "better" than wasps

Wasps are natures best design for their particular eco-niche which is one of the principles of "community assembly" regarding how which species end up in foodwebs

I think the bioteams argument is more that human teams can usefully adapt different things from different species

In the area of powerful responses to crises then bee and ant swarming is more interesting than solo wasp behavior

You made me think however what is the main thing we can learn from wasps a) in teams and b) in companies?

In terms for a) for example the importance of being part of a community (the nest) AND a highly autonomous individual?

I think Semco is probably one of the best examples of a bioteaming approach from what I have read about it (in those same books) - a number of people have mentioned it to me before - what do you think?

Probably worth a bit more research

Many Thanks



Energy is always a scarce resource... which got me wondering: why would bees swarm and spend so much energy attacking something already attacked? It would have to be because they are protecting something worth even more than all the energy they expend, the honey of the nest. Wasps don't have that, so they don't need to swarm since they have no central resource to protect? Also, can't wasps sting more than once, so it doesn't take multiple individuals to deliver multiple attacks. Perhaps there is a magnification of individual effort of wasps over bees in this particular aspect?

As to the application of waspness to human teams...

one thing that comes immediately to mind are startup incubators: Useful little hives of individuals (or small groups of individuals) that can find it helpful to co-locate.

Also, from what little I could quickly find on the web, it seemed as if some wasps dispatch small teams to defend the nest, so perhaps that is also applicable to human "tiger teams" (Hmmm, that does sound cooler than a "wasp team")...



The start-up incubators idea is interesting - I have found research which shows that team-based start-ups are more successful than lone-ranger start-ups. Its part of a new book I hope to publish in the next month on the topic of Virtual Enterprise Networks

And yes Tiger Teams sounds much better!!!

Thanks for the thoughtful comments

Best Regards



Looking a little bit further, I found this tantalizing article:

So perhaps another lesson from wasps is belonging to multiple groups, spreading effort/knowledge horizontally between teams?

Do bees do that?



Just released talk on Ant behaviour:

Probably you already have some bioteaming post about how similar patterns evoke different behaviour when the size of the teams change?



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