Mention the term "swarm theory" and people typically think of robots that work together or accident-avoiding cars, but conversations I've been having recently are all about bringing swarm theory to work for human behavior. In a nutshell: how can we set up structures within our businesses, organizations, and communities that incentivize individuals to work together toward a common goal?
I've written about swarm theory in relation to communication issues in a previous entry, and building on that, how can we leverage the mechanisms behind this innate behavior to create strategic alignment for our businesses and communities? The mechanisms in swarm theory are simple: individual organisms working together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts. Through information transparency, multiple sensors, and simple rules, flocks and swarms are able to leverage the self-interest of the individual to work together and mitigate disturbances, such as predation. The biological mechanisms are simple, but translating them to a human context is anything but elementary.
Perhaps you are asking yourself:
How can I grow my business while keeping my culture intact? How can my organization cut through the noise to spread the word on an important initiative? How can I organize my community to collectively tackle initiatives that mitigate the effects of urban flooding, crime, and climate change?
Let's start learning from billions of years of nature's R&D and work together to bring natural solutions to work for our businesses, organizations, and communities. Contact us to learn more!
Resources to learn more!
- The B-Collaborative's Naturally Resilient Workshop.
- National Geographic's interesting introduction to swarm theory (bit of a long read);
- For a shorter experience, NatGeo created a picture essay on the subject;
- HBR article for a Capital One case study that applies swarm theory to human behavior;
- And for an example of it applied to energy management, the REGEN case study.