The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

The Wisdom of Fireflies

Posted by kenhoward on July 25, 2008

Business sociology can be very interesting – the dynamics of departments, groups, teams, or other blobs of people working together toward a common goal. In business school they called this organizational behavior, but I think organizational sociology sounds much cooler.

Incidentally, the Org Behavior question was the only one I missed on the comprehensive final I took when I got my MBA, but I’m a lot wiser in they ways of how groups operate now. I’d probably still fail that exam question, though, because memorizing categories and lists of labels from theorists hasn’t been particularly useful to me in the real world.

So, in terms of useful information we can use, I’m hip to how (despite the hassles and overhead of group dynamics) groups are more successful than individuals. Always. If you want to learn more about the science behind this; to hear about how fireflies the in Thailand all flash on and off in synchronicity; to hear the original exercise that inspired James Surowiecki’s jelly bean jar guessing exercise — tune in to the best Podcast on the web (imho) — Radiolab. You can download a free standard MP3 or podcast of the “Emergence” episode here.

Afterwards, you can thank me for turning you on to Radiolab. Then you can join me in complaining that they only put out 5 new episodes per season.

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