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
Belbin sees Bioteams as the next step. Dr R Meredith Belbin, regarded as the father of "team-role" theory and one of the worlds foremost experts on teams predicts that we will evolve into bioteam forms. In his book "The Coming Shape of Organisation" Belbin picks out five observations human teams need to learn from "a diminutive masterclass" of social insects such as bees, ants and termites.