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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bio Teams - Watching Nature To Understand Teamwork

Here is a link to the BioTeam Blog Interview with Ken Thompson:

Ken Thompson - Bio-teaming and Swarm Teams

Summary notes added by P. Frischer: Information obtained from observing nature’s team. For example, in migration, there is not one leader who knows the way. Instead everyone has a bit of the knowledge and the leader changes as the journey progresses.

Team Intelligence – working for collective success

Treat every member of the team as a leader

Everyone communicate to everyone – short messages (texting or emails or blog communications)

Learn by experimentation – don’t spend too much time planning

Work may start from a nucleus but expand the team to get full benefit from all members.

Summary of video above:

1. Karma Check – set goals of the team, set expectation. Trust Breakers –free loader comes to the meeting to see if it will work. If you are free loader of the month twice, you don’t contribute and are out. If you don’t come to three meetings you are out with the three strike rule

2. Clear rules of engagement - Write down all that is agreed. The 5% that is not agreed caused 95% of the problems. What information is shared. Try to agree on shared values and behaviors

3. Don’t fly to close to hit each other, but stayed alignment and stay close together.

4. Look for collective success – if you only looking out for yourself, the team will fail. Have early warning systems to see if the team is still functioning

5. Strong ties to ask for help when you need it and trust that is OK

6. Weak ties to get new input – use as grapevine, use for short term solution

7. Three types of wisdom – a. wisdom of group, the average answer is the best, b. collective intelligence (identify the one who know the subject the best and use it) or c. the leader decides. All are useful at different times.


  1. The link seems to be broken - try this one!


    Ken Thompson

  2. Our thanks to Ken Thompson for letting us share this information with our future art and science teams.

  3. I really love the 3 rules below for shared behavior. The challenge seems to be how one stays creative and shoots toward the middle. Generally speaking I feel that creativity is a synergetic conflation achieved through the fusion of dichotomies. -- You take two opposing ideas and fuse them together such that the result resembles neither of the two original ideas. So in effect what seems to be required is that the conflation must be pointed at the center movement of the flock. In other words the process behaves much like a vector sum - the two opposing idea's (dichotomy)that move in diverse directions away from the center movement of the flock, when combined, result in an idea that points toward the center movement of the flock.

    1 separation - don't run into your neighbor
    2 alignment - steer toward the average heading of the flock
    3 cohesion stay together but remember rule one

  4. Thanks, Kaz. Creativity as two separate ideas that one would normally not put together, but merge into a new whole, is one of the basises of "out of the box" thinking. If you force the brain to connect two, even random, ideas, you usually can get a break through. This is one of the tools of imagination expansion that usually works for both left and right brained people .

  5. Its really a wonderful video which learn us about team work.All the given points are very important if we are handling a team.I will shared it with my team members.


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