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Flock of birds

Treat this as an off the wall, whimsical post – with a serious intent….

One thing that we all see far too much of –  Management.

One problem with many organisations is that we spend too much time managing, we create too many rules and practices and processes for management, in fact we create entire departments (HR, finance, training) to support managers.

All these people cost money.

All that time costs money.

However, we work within it, use it, accepts its rules.

But what if things were simpler?

In whimsical moments, I look at flocks of birds.

These are complex social groups (Just like companies and organisations) completing a task (Just like people in organisations)  – flying safely from one food source to another, from one continent to another (just like most organisations).

To look at the beauty and complexity of what is happening you would think it was complex to describe.   But here is the rub.  It is not.

There are only three basic rules that govern how a flock of birds work and fly together:

  1. Separation – avoid crowding neighbors (short range repulsion)
  2. Alignment – steer towards average heading of neighbours  (local alignment)
  3. Cohesion – steer towards average position of neighbours (long range attraction)

Now that is probably a surprise.  With these three simple rules, the flock moves in an extremely realistic way, creating complex motion and interaction that would be extremely hard to create otherwise.

In more whimsical moment I wonder if this would map across to an organisation.   Look again at those rules…  and interpret them for business and organisations…

  1. Separation – avoid doing someone else’s job  (short range repulsion)
  2. Alignment – make sure you are heading in the average direction as others (local alignment)
  3. Cohesion – steer in the general direction that everyone else is heading… (long range attraction)

What if we found the few rules that dramatically simplified how we manage?