BRAIN FOOD: It just might work - Swarming to the task

BRAIN FOOD: It just might work - Swarming to the task - 'Go to the ant, thou sluggard' turns out to be great managerial advice, if you believe a pair of contributors to the Harvard Business Review (May 2001). They argue that social insects like ants offer

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

'Go to the ant, thou sluggard' turns out to be great managerial advice, if you believe a pair of contributors to the Harvard Business Review (May 2001). They argue that social insects like ants offer better solutions than computers to scheduling, dividing tasks and working out strategy.

Southwest Airlines, for example, looked at how ants forage and discovered that it was better to leave cargo on a plane heading in the wrong direction and redirect it on its arrival than to reload it there and then. Similarly, imitating bees (sticking to specialised tasks unless a more important job pops up) is the best way of scheduling automotive paint booths. Eric Bonabeau and Christopher Meyer claim that 'swarm intelligence' is self-organising, adaptive and succeeds even if individuals fail. Try it and see: it could give you quite a buzz.

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