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Kelly Odell

- A blog for leaders
24 Oct 2006

Smarter than an ant and dumber than a pike!

I suppose everyone has heard about the research that was done in which minnows where put into a glass cylinder in an aquarium with a pike and after the pike had bumped his head on the glass cylinder about 7 times he quit trying to eat the minnows. Then when the glass cylinder was removed the pike still would not eat the minnows even if the minnow swam right in front of his face. The pike had learned once and for all that there was no point in trying to eat the minnow. Been there, done that!

There is another story told by a professor (I don’t remember who, sorry!) who said that ant’s have a very low intelligence as individuals but very high intelligence as a group. People on the other hand have high intelligence as individuals and low intelligence as a group. I think anyone who has worked in very large organizations recognizes this problem. I am frequently amazed at what sound views many people in large organizations have about the problems facing their companies and what actions need to be taken to improve the situation. When all of these clever individuals get together the end result often turns out much worse than it would have if just one person had done the thinking.

Considering these two stories I have come to the conclusion that our ambition should be to be at least as smart as ants are when working in groups never losing sight of the groups overriding mission. We should at the same time be relentless in our strivings to excel in fulfilling our mission, continuously re-evaluating the situation and never letting the long shadow of history block our vision of the future.

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