Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Beekeeper's Perspective on Risk


A decade ago, I embarked on a new hobby — one that many more people have taken up in the meantime. I became a beekeeper. At the same time, I became a bee observer [..].

What I didn't expect was to learn lessons about organizational strategy and behavior that would inform my work as a human capital consultant. Professionally, I help large businesses manage risk by focusing on how their recruiting, compensation, training, and other systems encourage people to behave. What I came to recognize was that beehives were organizations that naturally got things right. The honeybee colonies I was cultivating were structured for consistent long-term growth and the prevention of severe loss due to unpredictable environmental surprises. Bees are masters at risk management.

Take, for example, their approach toward the "too-big-to-fail" risk our financial sector famously took on. Honeybees have a failsafe preventive for that.

It's: "Don't get too big."