6/6/17

Be like a bee at work

When I urge you to be like a bee, you probably think I mean you should
Be busy as a bee
Many are busy. Busy managing their inbox, attending all the right meetings and ticking off items on their to-do lists.

Sometimes people keep themselves busy rather than making a difference. Like checking the mail instead of taking on the difficult task that really needs to be managed.

These people are busy doing nothing at all.

That is not at all what I mean when I say you should be as a bee.

What I am referring to, is what bees do in the winter. They gather into a ball of bees to keep each other warm. The ones that are in the outmost layer will be colder than the rest. Here comes the nice part; the task of being in the cold - of being in the outer layer - rotates.


Photo: PaoSan
The bees make sure they take turns doing the hard work. So should we.

Where I work, we do this by limiting the amount of times one person takes on certain tasks. Like task force work that I have handled many times:  intense work to solve a problem that shouldn't have reached our customers in the first place. Or tough transformation projects where a lot of significant data, related to how our customers bill their customers, is moved from one version of a product to another one and absolutely nothing may go wrong.

We ensure these tasks are rotated between people, just like the bees rotate the task of being in the outer layer during winter.

Another thing we can learn from bees, is the way they risk minimize by letting just a few bees go away to find new places to gather nectar. They do not all go away on a whim, leaving the bee hive empty.

Bees make sure the bee society keeps working at the same time as they explore new possibilities. 

Similar to what we do at work when a few persons investigate future technologies and work with innovation and disruption, while the rest make sure the company continues to develop and sell the products that make money today.

One thing that bees do - and that we do too little where I work - is to tell where the nectar is by dancing. The bees come back and dance in 8s. The longer they dance, the further away the nectar is.

The bees communicate by dancing. I would like to see more of that at work. 
To conclude:
this is what I mean when I say we should be like bees at work:

  • Taking turns doing the hard work
  • Let some colleagues investigate the future possibilities while the others make the most of the current ones
  • Use dancing as communication. That will be a lot more fun than the standard power point presentations. 

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