Break Down Barriers: How to Achieve Buy-In and Consensus Through Effective Communication

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Deolu Akinyemi

This is also an extraction from the Beehive masterclass. There is a lot of wisdom available to the ants, let’s dig in a little deeper.

In a swarm of bees, when scout bees return from exploring different locations, they engage in a fascinating process of communication known as the “waggle dance” to share information about the potential new nesting sites they have found. This dance helps the colony reach a consensus on which location to choose for their new opportunity.

The waggle dance is a complex and precise form of communication that involves both movements and sounds. When a scout bee returns to the swarm after finding a promising location, it performs the waggle dance on the surface of the comb. Here’s how the process works:

The Dance: The scout bee moves in a figure-eight pattern, waggling its body from side to side and vibrating its wings rapidly. This dance is performed with great enthusiasm and precision.

The Angle: The angle of the waggle relative to the vertical axis of the comb indicates the direction of the potential site in relation to the position of the sun. For example, if the bee waggles straight up on the comb, it means the location is directly facing the sun. If the dance is at a 45-degree angle to the right, it indicates a location 45 degrees to the right of the sun’s position.

The Duration: The duration of the waggle dance provides information about the distance to the site. The longer the bee waggles, the farther the potential location is from the swarm’s current position.

The Intensity: The intensity of the dance represents the quality of the site. A more intense and vigorous dance indicates a more promising location.

Other scout bees in the swarm closely observe the waggle dance and decode the information provided. They may then leave the swarm to verify the reported locations before returning to share their findings through their own waggle dances.

Over time, more and more scout bees join in the dances, advocating for their preferred locations. As the communication and dance intensify for specific sites, a consensus gradually forms within the swarm. Eventually, the majority of bees start to favour one location, and the swarm collectively decides on the best new opportunity.

This intricate process of the waggle dance and the collective decision-making exemplify the remarkable intelligence and social organization of honeybee colonies. Through their democratic and highly effective communication methods, they ensure the survival and prosperity of the entire community.

Do you have any ideas how to explore this for your team? Can you share some of your thoughts ahead of the next article where we try to parallel these lessons for human organisations

Adeolu Akinyemi

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