Corporate lessons from ants

I was watching a program about driver ants and they have a lot to teach most corporations that I encounter.  The millions of individuals in a colony each know their role; they know how they add value.  They focus their energy on common goals and support each other.  From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

They find their food by ceaselessly exploring, and never writing off any avenue for progress without first trying it.  When one succeeds, they communicate their findings and then they co-operate to exploit them.  Where one cannot succeed, many can.  They are the very embodiment of synergy.

They are masters of logistics and transport back 150,000 food items from a single raid with the ants turning themselves into a living rolling road.  The largest ones take the front end, with little guys bringing up the rear, whilst the soldiers guard them and mark the route home.

When the colony gets too big to sustain, it splits, with a young queen (new leader) taking half the colony to literally explore pastures new.  Once ensconced in her new nest, she produces up to 2 million eggs to carry on the work.

They are able to take on superior, seemingly impregnable opponents like crabs by co-operating and exploiting their vulnerabilities.  They attack the crabs joints to gain access to their soft internal parts.  Slugs are covered with sticky slime in which a single ant gets stuck; however the others soon turn up with particles of soil that neutralises and absorb the slime and then the slug becomes ant food.

It all comes down to communication and co-operation.  I recently worked with a company with ambitious growth plans and guess what their issues were?  Maybe they should have hired an ant queen?

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”  John Donne

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”  Kenyan Proverb”Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.”  Henry Ford

”None of us is as smart as all of us.”  Ken Blanchard


  1. Stigmergic SystemsStigmergic systems combine information technology with stigmergy and other structures found in nature – to create self-organizing Web sites and low cost knowledge management systems.

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2 Responses to “Corporate lessons from ants”

  1. Lucas_W says:

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you so much for your great article about self assembling stigmergic systems where corporations can learn the power of collaboration and why it’s so superior to competition!

    Have a great and happy day!



  2. Thanks for a great link Lucas, very interesting… and you have added to vocabulary!

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