Management Lessons From Bees

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Bees terrify me.

The thought of getting stung makes me cringe and want to head for the hills. So, when my darling hubby announced that he wanted to raise bees (like his grandfather did before him) I thought he lost his mind. He persisted and eventually I caved (only after extracting a firm promise that I wouldn’t have to go any closer to the bees than I felt comfy with). A few months later, he became the proud owner of about 9,000 buzzing little ladies, enough for one hive.

Over the summer, I accompanied my husband when he went out to tend the bees. At first I kept my distance, but eventually curiosity got the best of me and I started getting closer and closer to the hive, badgering my husband with questions like a rabid 4 year old. I learned all about the dynamics of the hive and how it’s not really different from how I like to manage my team(s) here at Metaverse. It seems certain aspects are important to project management, no matter your size (or species).

Part of the reason why bees are such awesome little honey-making machines is that they communicate with each other about everything. For example, a worker bee that comes across an excellent source of pollen will let the rest of the hive know using a little thing called the waggle dance. The waggle dance is particular set of moves that provides the direction and distance to the pollen source.

Luckily for us humans, communication is a little easier to decipher than the waggle dance. Talking to each other, sharing vital information, keeping goals and objectives transparent helps to keep the team on the same page.

Bees work in groups, collaboratively. They universally fly in and pick up any slack from those who may struggle, or as not as swift in execution of tasks.
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Individual success is only as great as the whole hive’s ability to act and overcome. Failure can cause suffering or even death to the entire hive, so it’s always in the best interest of the hive to work together.

Each mod on my project makes up an important part of the team. Everyone brings a little special something to the group that makes us stronger. Identifying strengths, and working together in support and completion, makes us successful.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.03.35 PMBees are extremely adaptable. With drastic changes (and challenges) in their surroundings, such as weather and pests, they make adjustments quickly to routines in order to return swiftly to their duties.

Let’s face it, not all projects are going to be textbook ‘cut and dry.’ Flexibility is key. The team has to bend with the wind (so to speak), and adapt to the market, clients, and/or customers’ needs.

At the end of our first season as beekeepers I was still a little afraid of being stung, but I won’t let it keep me from enjoying the experience long-term. We even managed to get a little honey from our first hive (yum!) and render some wax for future projects (homemade lip balm? Yes please!). And this time, I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.

Crystal Litzau
Project Manager

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