How Superorganisms Work Together to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World
For hundreds of millions of years, ants, termites, and vast underground fungal networks have worked together. In huge cities, tens of millions strong, compound their wealth from one generation to the next with no management whatsoever. With just four simple principles—Collective Intelligence, Distributed Leadership, Swarm Creativity, and Regenerative Value—Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker’s groundbreaking book, Teeming, shows how these diverse and independent individuals pool their experience to creat rich hotspots of abundance. Dr. Woolley-Barker is an evolutionary biologist and biomimicry pioneer. Her work shows how business can mimic the techniques of superogranisms to create generating long-lasting value in an unpredictable world.
The most successful species are those that adapt to change, and the same is true in business. Today’s global organizations need a new way of sensing and responding to unpredictable conditions. Earth’s most ancient and successful societies can show us how.
Reviews / Endorsements
“Instead of re-inventing the wheel while setting up an organization, why not look at cooperatives that have been around for millions of years. Tamsin Woolley-Barker uses modern knowledge of animal societies to show us what works, how it works, and why animals from ants to our fellow primates perhaps know something that we don’t.” – Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
“Teeming is a terrific book. As with colonies of ants, clouds of bats, packs of wolves, schools of fish, and huge gatherings of all other social organisms, a swarm of humans (a rally, an army, a corporation) does not behave like the sum of its individual parts. People return home, whether from a war or the office, thinking “I can’t believe I did that!” Teeming offers a scintillating, provocative, mind-bending marriage of sociobiology, biomimicry, and organization theory, chock full of facts and theories that help explain these often-mystifying superorganisms composed of people like you and me.” –Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day
“Teeming is a full and excellent account of the Whys and the Hows of organizational biomimicry for enterprises and teams. It is packed full of biological examples and fascinating anecdotes, all beautifully written in a personal, engaging, and thoughtful style. Well done!” –Ken Thompson author of Bioteams, The Networked Enterprise and The Systematic Guides Series
“What might be possible if we could lead our organizations to become thriving interconnected networks of collaboration, ingenuity, and self-organized wealth accumulation that embody, and contribute to, the evolutionary power of life, itself? In this critical time of transforming the essential structures of society and our economy, Tamsin Woolley-Barker peers into nature’s enduring intelligence to show us how. Teeming is a great read, and a must for any leader curious about the simple rules that can lead us to a better future, together.” –Toby Herzlich, Founder, Biomimicry for Social Innovation and Senior Trainer, Rockwood Leadership Institute
“Evolutionary biologist Woolley-Barker draws on the ancient R&D of living systems to show how nature can help us challenge Silicon Valley’s vertical hierarchies and billion dollar unicorns with self-organized systems that are functional, flat, agile, adaptive, and resilient. Teeming is a timely, insightful, inspiring, and enjoyable exploration of one of the deepest challenges facing not only the sustainable movement but all modern organizations: how to ensure the adaptive benefits of emergent coordination without the deadening impacts of command and control.” –Gil Friend, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, California, founder of Natural Logic Inc.
“Teeming should be required reading for everyone working in (or managing) a team. Creative and design teams will find invaluable insight into applying the lessons of Nature to their own company, culture and process. I wish I had this book 20 years ago!” – Eric Corey Freed, Architect, facilitator Institute for Living Futures, and author of Green Your Home for Dummies
“An easy-to-digest book with profound implications for the future of our social systems, overflowing with poetic and scientific insight, Teeming is also an entertaining read. This timely book explores how competition and cooperation play out in all social systems. With gracious ease, Tamsin Woolley-Barker blends her passion and expertise for sociobiology, facilitation, ecology and systems thinking to provide the theoretical insight and practical application we sorely need in redesigning our organizational systems for flourishing far in the future. Diverse, self-organizing, collaborative, participatory, purposeful, outward spiralling superorganisms provide powerful insights for how the firms of the future can adapt and thrive amid these transformational times, while creating the conditions conducive for life to flourish. A must read for those with an eye on what our future could hold.” – Giles Hutchins, author of Future Fit and The Nature of Business
“Tamsin Woolley-Barker does a superb job explaining what we can learn from other super social species, ranging from naked mole rats, ants and bees, to elephants and humpback whales, to become happier, more creative, and more successful members of companies, organizations, and society.” –Peter Gloor, author Swarm Creativity
“Have you ever found yourself stuck in an endless, pointless business meeting, wondering how we could operate in a better way? Well, wonder no more! Teeming is chock-full of relevant wisdom from our most reliable and ancient source, Nature herself. Tamsin Wooley-Barker’s training as an evolutionary biologist and biomimicry professional are evident on every page, as she illuminates lessons from the natural world that can dramatically improve our businesses, our teams, and our lives.” –Katherine Collins, founder, Honeybee Capital and author of The Nature of Investing
“Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker is a gifted and creative writer, and a scientist with wide-ranging experience and knowledge. This book is of great value to anyone interested in self-organization in living nature and how we can apply our understanding of it to human organizations. We know how our the cells in our bodies work together, but we know so little about the principles that drive us as individuals within our larger groups. Teeming describes powerful principles that we can borrow from nature’s societies to help our own organizations evolve to cope with rapid change. For me as an expert in system theory and sociobiology, this book will now be a permanent resident on my desk.” –Olga Bogatyreva, PhD, DSc, director of BioTRIZ, Ltd and author of Inventor’s Manual and Biomimetic Management