The butterfly effect of collaboration

The butterfly effect of collaboration

While preparing a lecture on complexity the idea of showing examples from nature popped up. Two examples from nature that seemed distant from each other proved to be related. I refer here the complexity of sand dunes and ant's colonies. It amazes me how these seemingly unrelated "societies" have much in common. More, these two examples show us how small acts of collaboration a butterfly effect in which unexpected and overwhelming results may emerge.

Let me start with the ants' colonies example. Ants collaborate in many ways to build their nests, to prevent their sinking in water and to build bridges from their bodies to speed their forage excursions. Recent studies have revealed the simple rules to which every single ant abides by without having a central authority. These three simple rules or guidelines are:

1. The ants should pick up grains of sand at a constant rate

2. To drop the collected grains near other grains to form a pillar, and

3. To preferentially select grains that were handled by other ants (they have a smell from the excretion of certain pheromones).

Equally amazing is the ants' ability to change excavation rules depending on the type of soil they encounter to build their nests. Simple rules allow for the emergence of wonderful ants' nests. Ants know how to build castles from sand grains. Equally striking the ants protect their nests. Guard ants hold themselves at the mouths of tunnels to seal the moisture into the nest. In extreme temperatures these ants forgo their lives in order to keep those inside safe.

The collaboration of ants extends into many facets of their lives using simple rules. This has a price. Collectively, the ants can build and defend their nests; individually they are less able to face an approaching predator. For the sake of the colony, the individual must be ready to sacrifice.

There is no collaboration without effective communication. The queen ants are characterized by a coating of chemicals. It doesn't pass orders as a central authority. The division of labor follows simple rules. Young ants work in the nest. Worker ants go for foraging. Some ants build bridged of their bodies to accelerate the reach to the food source. Ants allow individual ants to choose the work they enjoy most, interactions with other ants and the needs of the environment. Some ants are ready to sacrifice their lives if needed during harsh weathers to save the lives of young ants inside.


The amazing fact is now the similarity of self-organizing in both ants and sand dunes. Sand dunes show wavy patterns. Studies have shown that such ripples self-organize. They do not result from some predetermined pattern in the wind that is somehow impressed on the surface, but rather from the dynamics of individual grains in motion across the surface. The sand grains slowly organize themselves into more regular waves whose low crests are aligned perpendicular to the wind direction and begin to march slowly downwind. This is a very interesting finding as sand grains don't communicate; yet they self-organize to produce sand ripples of repeating patterns. Is self-organizing then a force with such strength so that even sand grains may be prompted to self-organize?


The power of self-organizing is amazing. Look at ants carrying more than ten times their weight of objectives. An individual ant is weak; in self-organized ants collaboration makes a giant out of the weak. It is the butterfly effect of collaboration leading to self-organizing.

The "I" mentality in humans may be the main barrier to adapting to the environment by all individuals so that the effort of collaboration may show the butterfly effect. Transparency is following simple rules by all individuals so that new structures may emerge. Ants build varieties of colony structures by following same rules and by adapting to the soil and climate requirements. Are humans less able to do so?


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Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

AS I am trying to interpret your emjoys Harvey Lloyd.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #51

#56
Lance \ud83d\udc1d Scoular there is a bit of irony in your comment. We seek cave paintings to discover early man from their cave paintings. We now use emoji s as a form of communication. When archaeology digs up a thumb drive 3000 years from now how will they interpret?๐ŸŒฎ๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿฅ™

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#61
๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š

Lance ๐Ÿ Scoular

Lance ๐Ÿ Scoular

4 years ago #49

#59
Perhaps๐Ÿ˜Š

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #48

#58
If i have made your day, then mine is complete in purpose. I am honored that i have stimulated thought within your day.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#56
Writing equations with emjoys is your next project. A mi correct Lance \ud83d\udc1d Scoular?

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#55
I am truly elevated by your comment my dear friend (and I mean it faithfully). In fact, you changed my writing plans and my next buzz shall expand on our exchanges of comments here with you and Sara Jacobovici and other comments.. In fact, i shall discuss purpose in a new format. I am thrilled. You wrote "The rules would have to establish that my brand is based on the communities success". I shall discuss the viability of this line in detail in my next buzz. You made my day, Harvey.

Lance ๐Ÿ Scoular

Lance ๐Ÿ Scoular

4 years ago #45

๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿœ ๐Ÿ‘ฅ๐Ÿค๐Ÿณ ๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #44

#54
I enjoyed your presentation Ali Anani have discussed is the challenge to purpose. The ants do not engage in such duality. They have a singularity of purpose. The ant serves the community and the community serves the ant. If i am building my brand and you are building yours, can a higher purpose really be served? The rules would have to establish that my brand is based on the communities success. Most animals require a habitat and the basic elements of existence. Humans have the same but we also have a higher level of social need. This social need requires us to exist cohesively within a community, yet personal brands are sometimes in direct conflict with this need. When a community loses touch with its purpose as a whole then our personal brands become the filler. Creating a self fulfilling prophecy of social deprivation. This can be seen in history many times over. However there is a self correcting mechanism that always comes along that brings the community back to its purpose. One would hope that this will be civil discourse and intellect. In history it typically involved major conflict. Interesting discussion.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#53
Harvey Lloyd- your comment stirred my mind to the extent I couldn't respond to it in a timely manner. You reminded me of a presentation that I wrote almost three years back titled "The Three Simple Rules ARe Everywhere": https://www.slideshare.net/hudali15/the-three-simple-rules-everywhere I wonder if you have two minutes to read it because I give many examples of the three simple rules that lead to complexity. Meanwhile I am still thinking about the three simple rules that would lead to generating a binding or gluing purpose. I promise to comment again, but I need to firm up my mind first. May be you could help me.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #42

Ali Anani ants are an amazing social group when you watch them. Humans cant get three people in a room to agree and commit to something 100%. Yet ants, in the hundreds, operate without verbal discussion and attack a goal with their whole self. I drew a point of reference from your post. The point is at that transaction where choice has to be made. Where do i put my grain of sand in ant world, or how would you like for me to interpret the report in human world. Ants seem to have some very clear yet complex understanding of what to do in each situation and execute. The task from the single ant perspective is seen as pretty elementary, but from a social structure is quite complex. The rules are simple in execution but there is no feedback loop within the choice. Meaning the choice once executed is not compared to another ant. What does this tell us as individuals when we face a choice of execution? Our choices seem to be challenged by variables that have no bearing on the impending goal or milestone. In making choices at the transaction level within humans what three rules would be necessary to cut through the variables that don't apply? Can it be that simple? Keeping in mind, there are two things going on, a person speaking and a person hearing. Both or all would need to adhere to the three rules. Challenging stuff.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#51
ANts are successful and we may learn from their successes . I could write a buzz on the successful ideas that humans implemented by learning from ants. Yes, I concur fully with your comment.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#49
Yes, nature is sending a message to us- to use our senses and learn from nature. Your message is sound Robert Cormack

Robert Cormack

Robert Cormack

4 years ago #39

Ants are amazing at working together, @Ali Anani, but we'll never know if any ant stood out or distinguished itself in any form of sand collection. As long as ants are willing to accept the anthill as it exists, there never will be a distinguishable ant. Maybe nature is telling us something.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

"it is primarily determined by the surface on which wind blow" dear debasish majumder this shall be included in my forthcoming buz Part/ 3 on Nuggets of Wisdom. Bravo, Deba

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#45
I am reading few of your buzzes Anne Thornley-Brown and soon I am sharing my impressions in a buzz. You are an outstanding thinker and your sharing of my buzzes is honorable to me.

Anne ๐Ÿ Thornley-Brown, MBA

Been a bit busy lately but when I have time I will come and participate. I shared 3 of your excellent posts on Twitter last night..

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Engaging discussions are going on- you are invited to take part i them.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#42
At least I find a mind like yours Praveen Raj Gullepalli

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#39
You to my friend drive me in the right direction.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#38
I am on the same boat as your are Praveen Raj Gullepalli. The illumination you seek is the illumination I seek myself. However; I progressively realize that as my knowledge expands, my knowledge also shrinks exponentially o many other issue. Your comment deepens this feeling in me.

๐Ÿ Fatima G. Williams

#36
Why we fail to understand such visual and striking examples of collaboration and what it can do for the sake of us all. A question I ask myself everyday ! Thank you Ali Anani for we need constant reminders of learning the art of power of self-organization. This buzz drives me in the right direction.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

I meant true in my previous comment and not tre

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#34
Your comment is shockingly tre dear @Fatima Salama. As you wrote "As for the ants and us - I don't think we can compare ourselves to them. They are so noble. Humans are less able to be like that and this buzz throws more light of thoughts on the message of my buzz " One day at a time". We have seen ants working together to move a rubber tree. Individually they are weak; in working together they can move the unthinkable. I wonder my dear friend why we fail to understand such visual and striking examples of collaboration and what it can do for the sake of us all. Your comment reflects the sad reality.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#33
Absolutely an absorbing and refreshing comment yours s dear Praveen Raj Gullepalli. Sand grains don't speak, but they self-organize? Is it because of their varying shapes or weight? That they make organized and stratified repeating ripples is amusing to the mind. Hence, your writing " there does seem to be a code or program in everything and to everything. We think we know till we face such questions to realize how little we know.

๐Ÿ Fatima G. Williams

Cyndi's comment is spot on and so are the rest of the comments "Perhaps if more of us took on the task of addressing our own individual fears first, we could serve to shift the winds of change in favor of collaboration within the forces that govern our nations and move from conflict into a unified awareness of the long standing beliefs and cultural practices that no longer serve our growth as a 'global community." Ali Anani I am enjoying reading a buzz with the comments as it enables me to see how the same thing is perceived by different people. The sand dunes video is amazing. As for the ants and us - I don't think we can compare ourselves to them. They are so noble. Humans are less able to be like that and this buzz throws more light of thoughts on the message of my buzz " One day at a time". Like Franci says "Can we find the the missing link or the missing piece in a puzzle, which slows down ideation " Are we the missing link ? Self-organized ants collaboration makes a giant out of the weak. I want to be a part of the self-organized human collaboration makes a giant out of the weak. My quest continues.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#28
With such encouragement in words AND action- I have one option, which is to keep buzzing. I thank you dear for your unfailing support

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#27
27 Believe me @Aaron Skogen that I have the same issue like you do and this results in making many typos. However; from the context one can easily figure out the typos.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#27
Believe me Aaron Skogen that I have the same issue like you do and this results in making many typos. However; from the context one can easily figure out the tyopos.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#26
You said what I meant to say perfectly well dear Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman. Yes, humans can be their worst enemies. The community well-being transcends to the individual own well-being. It is short-sightedness that makes uss fall miserably.

David B. Grinberg

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #22

Thanks for the intriguing insights and astute analysis, as always, Ali. I've shared this buzz in three hives, two nature-related. Buzz on, my friend!

Franci ๐ŸEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

Outstanding buzz, Ali. The comments via Cyndi wilkins reflect my thoughts, as well. The "I" mentality in humans can have a major impact on collaboration. Those that aren't community minded present hurdles for themselves and more important, create hurdles for others. They are the missing link or the missing piece in a puzzle, which slows down ideation. This reminds me of teamwork in an organization and one of the team members separates his or herself from the team. This action can easily jeopardize the strength of the structure resulting in collapse. I believe humans can be their own worst enemy.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#24
Thank you so much Ian Weinberg. I hope Aaron would read it and I would surely love reading his response. I loved your term "organizing energy banks".

Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

4 years ago #19

Once again, an inspiring and thought provoking article Ali Anani Immediately triggers thoughts of Sheldake's morphogenetic fields - animate and inanimate entities organized by timeless and spaceless energy fields. All entities contribute to that 'organizing energy bank' and are in turn, influenced by it.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Controlling nature is uncontrollable my friend Aaron Skogen and nature shall defy the efforts of those people who try to control it. Yes, it is through understanding of nature that we may move forward. As for sand with its different forms it may sound dead, but it is a source as a chemical and for making great products such as fiber optics. It is amazing then that a lifeless material is a main source of our communication!. I shall explore your comment very shortly in a buzz. Thank you for your illumination.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#17
Your two cents are of gold dear Cyndi wilkins. I love the way you called for more collaboration and your extraction of what I believe my main two lines of the buzz. You see beyond "lines' and I am truly pleased with your comment. Thank you

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#16
Absolutely relevant comment and I thank you dear Tausif Mundrawala for sharing your thoughts. Yes, on beBee when we share each others minds and buzzes we are actually self-organizing around a grand purpose- to publicize what we think are good posts. This is not an act of selfishness and will surely lead to some order. I do appreciate your meaningful comment.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

I thank you for commenting and sharing my buzz dear Aaron Skogen. I wonder if sand are indeed inanimate?! Would a lifeless thing teach us life? I am very happy with your comment. I am thinking of expanding on it by giving a host of example of self-organizing objects from nature. I have few more examples in mind. What do you think? Is it worthy?

Cyndi wilkins

Cyndi wilkins

4 years ago #14

"There is no collaboration without effective communication...The "I" mentality in humans may be the main barrier to adapting to the environment by all individuals." That speaks volumes to the self-serving nature of humans doesn't it... To which Sara Jacobovici comments: "The irony is that when an individual separates him or herself from the community, the potential for individual success is diminished." And people still scratch their heads about how we managed to create such a global mess for ourselves and our children...perhaps if more of us took on the task of addressing our own individual fears first, we could serve to shift the winds of change in favor of collaboration within the forces that govern our nations and move from conflict into a unified awareness of the long standing beliefs and cultural practices that no longer serve our growth as a 'global community.' Just my two cents for what it's worth;-)

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#13
Great point Sara Jacobovici would say.

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #12

#4
I'm glad you said something siraj shaik. It's the different experiences or perspectives that make the discussion interesting. You see, I didn't stop to think of weddings as something that can take place in different ways depending on the culture or community. The expression I used is one that is used to reflect the need to make a choice from a community or culture in which the weddings take place one couple at a time and at times a person may have to choose to which couple's wedding he or she will attend. I wonder what expression you may have to reflect the need to make a choice?

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#11
This is a magnificent contribution dear CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit. Yes, water is a vital source and the conflict that arises because of its possible depletion cause conflict instead of being a source for life. Being an unsustainable resource the only way to avoid conflict is to create a great purpose to use it efficiently among all concerned nations. This is a grand purpose that allows for self-organizing around it; else the sands shall form more ripples of conflict.

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #10

#9
As a global population we better get serious about self-organizing principles because the Sahara Desert video revealed a fascinating story of aquifers which are under vast regions of Africa and the Middle-East, with the the proviso that they occupy across various nations https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn15030-atlas-of-hidden-water-may-avert-future-conflict/ The need for freshwater is considered a source of future conflicts but to discover that much freshwater under this region can lead to practices which flood those very resources with sea-water or create unsustainable urban development that assumes that aquifers are replenished by nature. Whatever becomes viewed as a resource can create its own conflict and whatever is unsustainable creates the need for human migration, which itself is a movement that creates friction for conflict. Water has collected under these continents due to geological processes but it is human processes of collaboration that is required to use this resource, and at present we run from one crisis to another because globally we are insufficient in practices of collaboration, yet highly adept to financing wars that see short-term gains and opportunities from newly discovered or existing resource.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#6
Thank you my dear friend for the great comment and links. Yes, I concur fully with you. Even though we may use different approaches we arrive at same conclusion. I shall have to read your links for I write a more sensible reply to your fascinating comment.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#5
Great comment dear CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit. I fully agree with your writing "The reality is that we don't have the patience to wait for self-organization nor the trust to accept this kind of transformation". This what I keep thinking about and found that self-interest and egoism are prime factors. If these are predominant then the community interest will not rate high and self-organizing becomes more unattainable. I wonder whenn we discuss self-organizing teams if we are serious about it. Your Sahara Desert example is very interesting and I thank you for sharing your ind with us.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#4
Your examples are beautiful dear siraj shaik and would love to witness one of those marriages. True what you said about disturbing ants and only soon too self-organize agai. A good example this one is too.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#3
Yes my dear friend Alan Culler- in simple words you summarized the main concepts of the buzz elegantly. Your mentioning of the quantum world has sent waves of thinking in my head. I do appreciate your feedback and will refer to this comment in a future buzz.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #5

Yes dear Ali Anani, I beleive in the butterfly effect of collaboration. Thank you. "You Are a Social Leader? The Butterfly Effect", LinkedIn long-form post, published on June 30, 2015 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-social-leader-butterfly-effect-milos-djukic "You are one in a million, equally unique, unrepeatable and unpredictable. A single flap of a butterfly's wings may provoke a new Renaissanceโ€ฆ It is your global social impact. Maybe you are one of the most important butterflies. The blue one, who will never feel blue again. Let's see how, it will not be easy." - from You Are a Social Leader? The Butterfly Effect", LinkedIn long-form post and about "Micro dynamic equilibrium in self expression, Self - similarity concept": "I'll be Back, Innovation in Self Leadership", LinkedIn long-form post, Published on May 5, 2015 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ill-back-innovation-self-leadership-milos-djukic "When we are an authentic self-similar whole, only then a neutral equilibrium is possible. We are on the way, a little bit of idealism never hurts. We'll be backโ€ฆ" - from I'll be Back, Innovation in Self Leadership, LinkedIn long-form post

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #4

When we view the self-organizing power of a desert, we can go even further than seeing the ripples revealed through time-lapsed photography, we can marvel at the environment - that a place like the Sahara Desert was once a rich oasis of ecological activity and is instrumental in its contribution to ecology millions of miles away from it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICSaQcgVdXU Ant life is a great observation in self-organization also and here for me it is a motivator to recognize self-organization as a reality. That itself challenges preconceived notions we take for granted such as the order we impose, without examining the actual source and roots of that human directed form of order. The reality is that we don't have the patience to wait for self-organization nor the trust to accept this kind of transformation. Ants do because there is nothing stopping them from accepting anything other than a pattern of self-organization . For sure this is a fascinating subject of discovery. Margaret Wheatley has made a career out of studying and accepting the power of self-organization as an intelligence, but her studies come up against an existing order that we are far more accepting of. The good news is that a few human beings today bring these realities back into human view. The bad news is that our focus on education and media largely ignores this view. Margaret Wheatley - Self-Organization http://www.margaretwheatley.com/articles/irresistiblefuture.html

Alan Culler

Alan Culler

4 years ago #3

Thank you again @Ali Anani for such inspiration and Sara Jacobovici for continuing the thread. It is interesting to me that both animate (ants) and inanimate (sand grains) "individuals" participate in a self-organizing system or "community. This has many lessons for individuals in organizations, but also for the way in which we understand ecology, the quantum world or collective unconscious. It is a wonder-filled world.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#1
A comment of this high quality is a bonus for me. Thank you for the bonus dear Sara Jacobovici. You captured the essence of the buzz and added much thoughts to it. Yes, writing this buzz showed me that being part of a community with a great purpose aligns all individuals to form a pattern. It is in the spirit of the community that in which we find ourselves. I am referring here to your great buzz of today on Personal Branding and this is why I don't feel comfortable. An individual must sacrifice own purposes for the sake of the community. I am not less bewildered by you on the sand self-organizing pattern.For the sake of brevity I shortened the buzz. But it is amazing how sand grains organize so that all sand grains work in harmony. That ants and sand grains do it in a similar fashion is mind-bewildering. But the lesson as you highlighted in your brilliant common is there. SO much to think about. But the thing that I need not to think about is acknowledging the depth of your comment dear Sara.

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #1

What tremendous examples in nature for us to learn from when it comes to the individual's relationship to the corporate community. Thank you Ali Anani. What stands out for me in the ant example is the tremendous potential of aligning with a common goal or vision; when the focus is on the success of the corporate community versus the individual. The irony is that when an individual separates him or herself from the community, the potential for individual success is diminished. There's an old saying, "You can't dance at two weddings at the same time." In other words you have to choose where to be in order to participate fully and enjoy that experience. In reference to this discussion; choose to succeed on your own or in the success of the community. The beauty of the complexity of the human being is that we can choose beyond our survival mode. An ant can sacrifice its own life for the good of the whole but humans need not place themselves at risk or fear losing their identity if they choose to be part of the community. The gain is in individual growth and development through collaboration. Regarding the self-organization of the sand grains, I find it tremendously intriguing because it reframes or redefines communication as we know it. On the one hand we are told there is no communication between the grains themselves but they receive information and use it to self organize. How that is then transmitted, and I can't imagine it isn't transmitted, is the part that would be amazing to explore further. Dr. Ali, you inspire so many thoughts, but there is so little time!

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