Why Honey Bees Don’t Need Managers

Honey bees have the ultimate structure in that every bee understands the objective of the colony and every bee understands their place in achieving this. There is no hierarchy, even the queen has no authority over the others and yet everything operates perfectly. They have the ultimate communication system and that’s why honey bees don’t need managers. Those who don’t understand them say it’s all done by instinct but as a result of the honey bee being the most studied animal on the planet we know it’s much more than that.

Turning to a rather less effective species – namely human beings, let’s see what we can learn from this.

In his book Measure What Matters: The Simple Idea That Drives 10x Growth, John Doerr quotes Peter Drucker on the subject of the professional employee. He states that “the professional employee requires rigorous performance standards and high goals” importantly, and this is where the comparison with the bee colony kicks in he goes on to say “but how he does his work should always be his responsibility and his decision.”

In other words, if you have the right standards and the right employees then they don’t need managing, exactly why honey bees don’t need managers. If you want the ultimate well run organisation then look to the bees. Or as John Doerr puts it “the company’s leadership might present its objectives and key results to everyone at once and trust people to say okay, now I see where we are going, and I’ll adapt my goals to that.”

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