BOOK SUGGESTION: The Smart Swarm
The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies
Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things
Done by Peter Miller
Peter Miller takes a look at our behavior in teams through the lens
of natural history and shows us examples of intelligent group behavior,
which he calls the "smart swarm". Peter shows us the
intelligence of the group even in many cases where the individual only
focuses on a few animals that are close to them because the smart
swarm's biology (even in leaderless groups of ants, bees and others)
unlocks secrets of group behavior.
Animals like ants with low individual intelligence perform remarkably
complex feats in a community while other animal types, e.g. locusts
produce dangerous results that sometimes turn the mob against itself.
What does this have to do with your business?
At the core of all great partnerships are people who make time to
really listen to each other. We really listen to each other when we
really know each other and we really know each other when we have lots
of shared stories and we know a lot of the other person’s personal
stories. This is no different in business than it is anywhere else. In
fact it’s probably all too common that we “erect” walls in
business that inhibit the knowledge of our partner’s stories. After
all, isn't business about being sober and logical? Not!
Business is at least as much about having emotional sensitivity,
connecting with others , as it is logical prowess.
Peter Guber is a guy who knows something about telling a story. He
has been a force in the entertainment industry for over thirty years and
has personally produced or executive produced, many films including Rain
Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Gorillas In The Mist,
The Witches of Eastwick, Missing and Flashdance.
According to Guber, most people in business forget that they are
dealing with humans, and in order to reach people, a message or
conversation has to have an emotional component. He emphasizes that good
stories that contain a challenge, struggle, and resolution. This is,
according to research in the book, hard-wired into our brains as a way
to connect with other people’s life experiences and they help to
persuade them to see our point of view.
The book is an easy and quick read and while it is not a how-to
manual, there are plenty of lessons scattered throughout the book on the
essential elements necessary for crafting and telling a story. One of
the real tests is if the listener remembers the story and retells it
Most of us get caught up in the urgency and efficiency of “doing”
business and we accomplish a certain amount of success in that way; but
those of us who go home feeling fulfilled as well as accomplished do so
because we appreciate the people we work with. We know them and look
forward to sharing what’s important in and outside of business, which
becomes an opportunity to create great stories that you can share as
your success and fulfillment grows.
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