by Shanny Basar, Financial News 22 Jun 2012 

Nature – The Great Teacher

Michael O’Malley, vice-president of human capital at Sibson Consulting, took up beekeeping as a hobby and was surprised to find that it provided insights into his day job of advising on risk management.

WE NEED OUR BEES, ALIVE NOT DEAD

O’Malley writes in the Harvard Business Review that beehives are structured for long-term growth and as a result the pollen gatherers have become masters of risk management, unlike many “too big to fail” banks.

He writes: “When a colony gets too large, it becomes operationally unwieldy and grossly inefficient and the hive splits. Eventually, risk is spread across many hives and revenue sources in contrast to relying on one big, vulnerable “super-hive” for sustenance.”

Other lessons he has taken from his hobby are that queen bees do not appear to be subject to short-term quarterly pollen and nectar targets. “No queen bee is under pressure for quarterly pollen and nectar targets. The hive is only beholden to the long term. Indeed, beehives appear to underperform at times because they could collect more,” he writes.

Instead, decision-making is decentralised with individual bees empowered to take decisive action, bolstered by a “disciplined career development program”: “By the time bees are sent into the field, they are prepared — and, even then, novice foragers are frequently accompanied by veterans who show them how to efficiently and productively move among, and work, the flowers.”……More

Read O’Malley’s full article at Harvard Business Review Why bees are better risk managers than banks.

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