Talking to the waggle dancers

Waggledance At Hall and Partners book breakfast this morning I met Howard Wright author of 10 steps to Innovation Heaven which I am reading and will be reviewing shortly. This posting is a straight steal from an idea from his talk – and I haven’t even read the relevant chapter on the dance of innovation yet. Its a very practical book soaked in loads of attempts to innovate. You know its for real because he reports the alarming levels of failure – which is also a characteristic of doing new things. One of the key insights is that you have to innovate from the outside in. Top down rarely gets anywhere. And he takes the idea of the bee dancing to show its mates where to find the nectar. Which is so close to what planners do working in teams I thought I’d try to codify the rules of waggle dancing. (this may of course change when I read the relevant chapter!)

1.  What matters is not what’s in your head but how effectively you can communicate by waggledancing.

2. If you’re not a good mover then go and do something else. It doesn’t make you a bad person but I’m afraid you’ll never cut it as a waggle dancer.

3. Waggle dancing is not an artform – good waggle dancing produces nectar – creative waggle dancing which doesn’t get the hive lots more nectar isn’t worth squit.

4. Its great if your dancing energises the other bees to go and have a look. But if they can’t find the nectar it doesn’t count.

5. A lot of waggle dancers are good at pointing in the general direction.  The waggle dancers who everyone likes to watch are those who pinpoint the nectar everytime. Having a good waggle dancing average is great – having a perfect 10 is what makes everyone want to watch you when you dance.

6. If you’re the sort of bee who likes to stake a claim on the nectar (because you found it) then you’re a wanker – not a waggle dancer at all. Waggle dancers help other bees to find the nectar – they don’t waste time arguing over whose nectar it is.

7. If you’re the sort of bee who likes to rate themselves by how much nectar they can carry then don’t waggle dance. Go and become a bodybuilder.

8. If you’re the sort of bee who enjoys cataloging nectar locations then become an accountant or an academic.

9. If you’re the sort of bee who enjoys reminiscing about all the great nectar you’ve found then retire from waggle dancing. Become a historian or get a job writing nectar casestudies for your local business school.

10. In summary the reason waggle dancing exists is because there’s always more nectar than one bee can carry. So you must must must get other bees to help.

It reminds me of a client of mine who insisted (dammit) on giving me feedback – he told me that he liked working with me because I got him a gem everytime (good)- I played nugget back to him – no not a nugget a real gem. Every time(great). The trouble he said to me – is that I have to go and locate it myself (not so good)

Thank you Howard – who then accompanied me to Russell’s coffee morning at the Breakfast Club. That was very useful!!




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