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.
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. For more on this.
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.
Bioteams Books Reviews
In his unique book Dialogue and the art of thinking together William Issacs introduces the Four-Player System originally developed by David Kantor. This is a very important technique for supporting real collaborative thinking in teams.