“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” – Psalms 133:1.
Agneta Winquist’s book on Wabi Sabi, which inspired this series of columns on Nature’s Wisdom, has a succinct description of five observations and corresponding lessons that we can learn from geese flying in V- shaped formation. I think these lessons are very important from a business perspective and are worth repeating here. Further information about the formation is available from http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/15.
“Every bird flies with its own wings. But by flying in a V-shape, the speed of the herd increases by 71 percent compared to the speed of a single bird flying on its own.” Lesson (1) – Cooperation speeds up progress.
“If a goose falls out of formation, it will get back into place in order to benefit from the lifting force of the goose ahead.” Lesson (2) – Stick together and support each other.
“When the leading goose is tired, it moves backwards in the formation and another goose takes the lead.” Lesson (3) – Share leadership roles.
“The geese in the far back of the formation will call out to encourage the front geese to keep the speed up.” Lesson (4) – Encourage each other.
“When a goose is sick or hurt and can no longer fly, two other geese leave the formation to help and protect it. They stay until the goose can either fly again or it dies.” Lesson (5) – Protect the weaker ones in the group.
Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.
What can geese teach us about cooperation and leadership in business?
I recall leading a strategic visioning session many years ago for a company which was ruing its inability to inspire rapid growth. It took the seven-member management team, which was for the first time attempting to develop a mission statement for the company, almost an entire day to conclude the exercise. At the end of the day, two members of the team resigned because, in the absence of a mission statement (a beacon to guide them forward), it was clear that they were going against the flow of the majority of the team. If only they had been flying in V-shaped formation!
Recently, we introduced another beneficial concept in the armory of Shepherding leadership tools. It is the Shepherding Innovative Growth Squad (SIGS) where three, say, retired experienced business persons (with, collectively, 140 years of business experience) give back to society. We have had several young entrepreneurs with little business experience sit in the hot seat for a 90-minute brainstorming session. The positive impact on the young entrepreneurs has been overwhelming. An example of flying in V-shaped formation!
Let us promote cooperation and leadership first through attitudes of the mind. And let us seek divine guidance to engender the shepherding spirit as we create bonds between the fledgling and the experienced.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)