What You Need to Know About Birds and People

This week I was on the search for an image for a new page on my website. And so I began looking for the perfect picture, one that reflected the message.

I got  a little abstract in my search, straying all over the place until I received the tap on the shoulder to remind to stay on task!  

OMG thank you...'focus' and magic happens.

My search was targeted towards finding a pic with birds. I know what you're thinking...what have birds got to do with it? Let's say it's symbolic.

What I learnt was enlightening...

Birds like people are individual and then they flock, wheeling and swooping in unison, just as if the performance was choreographed! How do they do this?

Zoologists Wayne Potts said this 'birds aren’t simply following a leader, or their neighbours. If they were their reaction time would need to be very fast. Instead, they anticipate sudden changes in the direction of their motion. Once a change in direction begins in the flock, it then spreads through like a wave.' 

He called this ability among flocking birds the chorus line hypothesis - the idea tested through study. He said, birds are like dancers who see an approaching leg kick when it’s still down the line, and anticipating what to do. 

He found that the flock typically responded only to birds that banked into the flock, rather than away from it. That makes sense, since flocking among birds serves the purpose of protecting the birds from predators, while individual birds separated from the flock are more likely to be picked off.

Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.
— Navy Seal Team saying


So what's the relationship between a flock of birds to teams of people?

I ran a quick stocktake of the teams I've played on, the groups I've been involved in and the communities I have lived in through to the present.

Reflecting quickly it's the teams that come to mind first then the individuals, not the reverse.

So what's in this?

The powerhouse teams drew people in, contributed to the overall result, protected each other, anticipated the next move, and had fun throughout - could this relate to whooping and swooping in bird talk? There is little comment to be made on individuality as the efforts of the group are the standout memories. 

The people who strayed from the team, like the birds who stray from the flock, hanging out around the edges, do so at their peril. More often, they're not understanding how their actions have an affect on every other person in the space - people making decisions to move toward or away.

For those of us without the visible wings, we fly together, anticipate the next move, we're willing to follow, then step up to lead when it's our turn. 

We know when it's our time to lead and without being asked