Ideation in Flies Mode

Henry Mintzberg, in his book “Understanding Organizations…Finally!” brings many interesting analogies between organizations and bee hives, showing that we might learn quite a bit from bees in designing and running our organizations.

There is an important exception, however.

According to an experiment done by Gordon Siu: ”If you put half a dozen flies and the same number of bees in a glass bottle, lie the bottle down horizontally and turn it so that the bottom of the bottle faces the window of the room.”

What do you think, who gets out sooner – the bees or the flies?

Let’s see what happens next: “The bees struggle for hours to find a way out through the glass bottom before finally dying of exhaustion and hunger, while the flies have escaped to the opposite side through the neck of the bottle in less than two minutes”

🐝 The intelligent bees know very well that the way out and their rescue is there where the light is. So they try this familiar option over and over again, which does not serve them well in this new situation.

🪰 Meantime, the feather-brained flies, careless of logic, perform all kinds of movements in all possible directions, and this strategy works very well here: the flies regain their liberty very fast.

And while our brains and logic are not usually that bad things to have, when ideating and innovating, we need to free up ourselves from what we know, from our habitual thinking and iterating through old familiar options – and instead try to go in many different directions, come up with some crazy ideas, build on new ideas on top of them, and finally find some gems (well, with further validating that these are real gems).

So, when ideating, let’s be more like flies rather than bees! 💡





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