The tricky thing about learning leadership from nature is that in the natural world, no one is in charge. There is no ED or CEO in nature, and yet very complex tasks are accomplished. Life builds from the bottom up, guided by simple rules and adapting through feedback loops. Complex challenges are sorted out among individuals within a system, who self-organize using a small set of simple rules.

Flocking geese follow four evolved agreements to stay in the V-formation across long migratory distances:

    1. Stay close enough to get an updraft benefit
    2. Give enough space to avoid collisions
    3. Move randomly side to side to get an unobstructed view
    4. Set speed and direction to that of the closest neighbor

No one is choreographing the dance – they are staying locally attuned to each other, while globally aware that they are in a whole system with a mission. A pattern emerges solely from numerous interactions among individuals in the system, operating only on local information, without centralized control.

What could we learn from this?

As our organizations and strategies get more complex, it becomes essential to let go of highly controlled top-down leadership, and move toward more self-organizing systems.

Simple rules become most important where there are bottlenecks in the system, simplifying decision points with a set of evolved agreements.

What are the simple rules that could allow for self-organization and emergent collaboration in your systems? Leave a reply