Bottom-up is better than top-down decsion-making

The study of bees shows bottom-up decision-making works.

Bees are an example of a bottom-up approach to decision making.

Bees are an example of a bottom-up approach to decision-making.

Bees run their bee hives without a central control, no managers and no team meetings.  In most corporates humanity needs a central control, managers and team meetings. The bees suggest that humanity can do away with centralisation, managers and team meetings.

In bee society every bee has the skills, resources and knowledge to meet their role.  Bees operate in real-time a communication system that is sending information backwards and forwards quickly across the colony.  If a bee encounters a problem it shares this information with other bees, who all deal with the problem immediately.  Bees need no managers because they are capable of dealing with problems on their own, whilst as the decision makers at “ground zero” they have no need for a centralised control system.

The internet, smart phones and GPS provides the means to build an instant communications system so that people can share information and coordinate in real-time without the need of meetings.  If every individual has the skills, knowledge and resources for their role, the manager role is redundant.  If the individual has the authority to resolve problems at the local level without need to ask permission then no centralised control system is required.  Feedback mechanisms can be created for the purposes of quality control that can identify and communicate problems for immediate rectification.

What does this all mean to you and me? If there is a good communications system; access to resources, knowledge and skills; and authority to make the decisions and take action at the local level; then a bottom-up approach to sustainability is possible.  What do you think?



Sustainability Action 13: I joined Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth is an international organisation that campaigns for sustainable solutions to problems in politics, economy, society and the environment.  Friends of the Earth came into being after some members of the North American focussed Sierra Club broke away over nuclear energy; they are a decentralised organisation found throughout the world with chapters in most large population centres.  I joined the Friends of the Earth chapter in Colchester.


15 responses to “Bottom-up is better than top-down decsion-making

  1. Absolutely. But it would put into question the grounds and structures of our current society, which as established people in power who won’t shift, as well as a system where both work and pay are unfairly balanced. The question remains how to effect the shift?

  2. Sorry to disagree, but I’m not sure it’s true that bees don’t have team meetings. When a swarm rests, a small number of older scout bees (managers?) go out and look for suitable new nesting locations. They then return and dance on the surface of the swarm. Better locations are danced for more enthusiastically, until eventually all of the scout bees and some of the hanging bees are waggle dancing for the same location. Could this be interpreted as an (extremely well run) team meeting?

  3. Good idea, but just won’t work with people. We’re not as smart and cooperative as the bees.

  4. I am just not sure that bees are worried about angling for a promotion and worrying about who get the credit/blame. If it can be pulled off, though, when the egos can be set aside, it is the nearest to perfection that it can be. Honey is the result. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen that often with humans.


    • Hi Tim, egotism is a major barrier to human cooperation, which has to be set aside if we are to have a sustainable future. Bees provide a possibility of what humans could achieve.

  5. I see a day Alex when in the future we will need to form local ‘Co-operatives’ so that we can pool our resources, Food, Skills, etc .. Many can not envisage a world that I was shown via my spirit friends, but we are seeing the fabric of Central Governments failing all over the world… The unfortunate thing is that People do not think they can co-ordinate themselves, and again people panic and become greedy, out for themselves.. So if such a day arose, many would go on the rampage as we have seen happen.. as the riots would take hold people panic to survive, as they have no idea how to sustain themselves.

    I live in the hope that one day the ordinary man and woman can tip the balance in the Calm before the Storm day arises.. For We make governments to bring about Order. but we also tare them down .. But without the ‘People’ governments have nothing to govern.
    But only by embracing the Peace within and undertaking to change our own selves can we ever hope to make a dint in the way of the world…
    It all begins with Me .. and You and that is what will make a difference in the world… The way we Think and Perceive and Live our lives… Being more tolerant, less judgemental, and living kinder, caring lives as we help each other not compete with each other or try to out-do one another as the selfish, greedy, race the majority of us have become as we worship ‘Things’ instead of Putting People first..

    Wishing you a good day… and PS great you joined Friends of the Earth!

  6. In order for humans to work like bees we would have to realize that we are all equal, intelligent and capable beings. The ones at the top of the financial ladder will never let us realize that.

  7. Excellent point Alex…at the corporation where I work, the meetings multiply and the low level are becoming robots resulting in less and less efficiency.

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