Bioteams and bioteaming are the most
appropriate ways to think about
teams, networks and organizations in today's interconnected world.
Using the principles of bioteaming,
command-and-control leadership gives way to connect-and-collaborate, where every
member of an organizational team is a "leader." In nature and in bioteams,
leaders don't give commands, they transmit information, trusting the team
members' competencies and gaining accountability through transparency. True team
leadership is about cooperation, not control. It's about acting on
opportunities, and letting others lead the leader when they know best about
getting stuff done.
What They Are Saying
If you are looking for the book that describes the radical new model for teams
in today's world―this is it!
--Toby Coppel, Managing Director of Yahoo! Europe
Bioteams is a handbook for a new business model in which ideas are no longer
developed behind closed doors, but across company boundaries and amongst diverse
groups of people. It is this spirit of collaboration, not competition that will
be critical if we are to address the major social and economic challenges that
lie ahead. --Jonathan Kestenbaum, CEO, The National Endowment for Science,
Technology and the Arts and Board member of the Design Council, the UK
Technology Strategy Board and the Royal Shakespeare Company
When I heard that Ken Thompson was writing a book to support the concept of
bioteams I was very excited. To have a book of proven rules, techniques and
ideas with examples that enable teams to be more agile, more effective and
overcome the natural latency in responding to business situations is
--Charles Bess, EDS Fellow
Ken Thompson's mix of decades of practical business experience, a new idea about
the way teams work together online, and his insights and analogies from
nature's teams give his writing a freshness and a new perspective that I find
compelling. He's not an expert handing down pronouncements; instead he's an
active, still curious, researcher on the track of something new and important.
--Kevin Jones, Former Columnist at Forbes, Principal, Good Capital
There is a spectre haunting the world: the spectre of peer to peer
collaboration. This is how trillions of social insects, arguably the most
successful species on the planet, organise themselves. Ken Thompson not only
describes how, but also what happens when human beings start to work this way
and the transformation it makes to the teams in their enterprises, communities
--Leon Benjamin, Author of Winning by Sharing and co-designer of the social
networking site, Ecademy.com
In Bioteams, Ken Thompson has identified that the use of nature's most efficient
collaboration techniques can enable dynamic and productive changes in both
consumer and enterprise peer interaction. In fact, I was an early adopter of
Ken's mind-expanding theory when I designed Inequity, my latest collaborative
innovation and technology transfer venture, using bioteaming principles.
--Cory Sorice, Director of New Business Development, Black & Decker Corporation
and Co-Founder of Invequity
Arguing that nature offers the best inspiration for creating effective teams,
Bioteams offers solutions to the "command and control" shortcomings of the
traditional organizational teams approach. Thompson describes key bioteaming
implementation techniques based on tested, real-life applications, from Fortune
500 companies, to sports teams, to wikis. Bioteams is the innovative solution to
your organizational challenges. But don't just read it--use it!
--Patrick Cannon, Ph.D., The Patrick Cannon Group
The mark of the human kind is
the ability to manipulate information outside the human body. The mark of a
winning organization is the ability to form high performance teams.
Got a team you can count on? You'd
better! To succeed in today's dynamic, technology-enabled environment, you must
be able to function in and through teams. Bioteams offers a vision of what
successful teaming experiences look like in the interconnected world of the 21st
century. More than a book about team dynamics, Bioteams offers stories,
principles, and guidelines showing how any individual can successfully
participate in almost any work or learning-related situation faced today.
Bioteams reveals, how business enterprises, supply chains, high-tech ventures,
public sector organizations and not-for-profits are turning to nature's best
designs to create agile, high performing teams.
With the emergence of global Internet collaboration, social networks and mobile
communications, the very meaning of the word "team" has changed--changed utterly.
If we stick with our current "command-and-control" approach to teams, we will
not be able to meet the growing needs of our customers or our communities in the
high-change global economy.
We need a way to manage our teams that fits the new Internet environment. We
need a model that has been tested in the most demanding of environments. We need
more than just a model. We need a detailed "how-to" guide for creating business
networks, mobile workgroups, and virtual communities.
Bioteams satisfies all these requirements. It offers a way to build
exceptionally agile, high performing teams based on a thorough examination of
the key principles that underpin nature's most successful groups. And, it
includes a complete set of practical techniques that have been proven with real
teams in the field, whose stories are described in a comprehensive set of case
studies. Want to build a winning team? Read Bioteams --then act on what you've
For corporate and educational orders, please email
info @ mkpress.com
Visit Ken's Bioteams Blog
Dr. Humberto Maturana and Dr.
Franciso Varela, two Chilean biologist/ neuroscientists, in their groundbreaking
work on Self-Organizing Living Systems chose to illustrate their core concepts
with a little graphical symbol with each component having a very significant
logo visually reminds us to always keep three very important things in mind as
we design team interventions, processes, roles, behaviors, strategies, tools and
1. All Bioteams are Self-Organizing Networks
2. All Bioteams have Nervous Systems
3. All Bioteams are Communications Systems
Bioteams and bioteaming are the most
appropriate ways to think about teams, networks and organizations in today's
Foreword -- Dr. Curtis Bonk
To succeed in work environments today, you must be able to work in teams. In
response, Bioteams offers a vision of what such successful teaming experiences
look like in the twenty-first century. As synectics research has shown for
decades, lessons and patterns from nature offer clues and insights into creative
new products, procedures, and problem solving. With Bioteams, however, such
research insightfully extends into team performances and interactions that lead
to such new product inventions and effective business practices.
Ken Thompson not only lays out the
research and theory, as well as an integrated set of principles related to
bioteams, he backs that up with rich and insightful examples, stories, and
experiences. The forms and types of bioteams covered in this book are highly
intriguing and pull one into each page and chapter wanting to learn more.
Bioteams is a book about teams for teams, but it is more than that; it offers
many stories, principles, and guidelines for how any individual can successfully
participate in most any work or learning-related situation faced today and on
into tomorrow. As such, it extends many recent management principles to the
world of virtual networked business teams in which nearly everyone now
participates to some degree. This book offers a chance not only to understand a
wide range of interesting success stories in teaming, but outlines a set of
principles and procedures to easily create your own successes.
When reading Bioteams, you will not solely think about the teams in which you
participate, but in your role within them. To what degree are you performing as
a bioteam member should, thereby, foster team creativity, innovation, and
success? If you are not sure, read this book and quickly find out. If you think
you know, read it anyway to find out more about how you can enhance your role.
This is the age of employee participation, multiple leaders and yet no leader,
and prompt communication, as well as the technologies that make all this
possible. In this intriguing book, Bioteams, Ken Thompson brings many separate
management movements and strands together and makes sense of them. His depth and
breadth of knowledge in this area is fascinating.
--Curtis J. Bonk
Professor of Instructional Systems Technology, Iniana University, Author, and
President of CourseShare, LLC and SurveyShare, Inc.
Foreword -- Jay Cross
The biggest challenge businesses today face is unlearning what was successful in
the industrial age and learning how to prosper in the network era. Most
companies are somewhere between being stuck in the past and embracing the
future. Think of organizations with industrial-age beliefs as ice, because they
are rigid. In addition to their orientation to control, ice organizations think
business is a zero-sum game; for me to win, you must lose. They have a
black-and-white view of the world; things are rigid; the fundamentals still
apply. Secrecy is competition advantage; hoarding information is the norm. Water
companies are those that embrace the future. To them, reality is the
unpredictable result of complex adaptive forces. Nothing's perfect; stuff
happens. Cooperation is a win-win game. Relationships are all-important, and the
more open you are, the easier it is to form them.
Ken Thompson has written an important book, a guidebook to help companies move
from vestiges of the industrial age to the efficiencies of the network era.
Companies are not machines; they are living organisms. Yesterday's
organizational teams are giving way to organic, self-organizing bioteams.
Drawing on lessons from biology, ecology, and the natural world, Thompson
provides wise counsel for setting up and nurturing bioteams. Here's the bottom
line: "After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are
fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. Like the viceroy
butterfly imitating the monarch, we humans are imitating the best and brightest
organisms in our habitat. We are learning, for instance, how to grow food like a
prairie, build ceramics like an abalone, create color like a peacock,
self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a
Thompson believes that today's managements misunderstand the dynamic and living
nature of the team as an entity over and above its membership. The natural
attributes of bioteams include:
- Collective Leadership. Any group member can take the lead.
- Instant Messaging. Instant, whole-group, broadcast
- Ecosystems. Small is Beautiful -- but Big is Powerful.
- Clustering. Engaging many through the few.
Thompson provides a prescription for managing bioteams naturally. Most of his
advice applies equally well to the enterprise the bioteams collectively support.
For example, managers should communicate information, not orders: "Give me the
dots but let me connect them for myself." It's the team's job to find and
process new information.
You plant a seed and expect nature to do the rest. Give workers the resources
and challenge them to do what's required. Rather than give them an extra push,
enable them to achieve accountability through transparency, not permission.
Thompson wants to define the team in terms of "network transformations" -- not
outputs. I think of this as "Trust the force, Luke." As Henry Ford once said,
"If a man thinks he can do something or that he can't, he's right."
The conclusions about bioteams are bolstered with examples from high performing
banks, manufacturers, sports, and more. Thompson highlights the future norms of
doing business: transparency, trust the team, shared glory, incremental
improvement, and clear accountability.
The core messages of Bioteams provide a guide to the managerial future. We are
all leaders. We must keep one another informed in real time. We trust living
systems to self-organize.
Thompson describes the best practices of business in the network era. Read this
book if you want to know what's going on. Ironically, these are not really
Thompson's rules; they are Mother Nature's.
CEO, Internet Time Group, LLC, and author of
Informal Learning and Implementing E-Learning
Table of Contents
FOREWORD -- DR.
FOREWORD -- JAY CROSS
PART 1: BIOTEAMS INTRODUCED
1. BIOTEAMS AND BIOMIMICRY
2. ORGANIZATIONAL TEAMS JUST BECAME EXTINCT
3. WHAT NATURE TEACHES US ABOUT TEAMS
4. HOW CAN WE DO BETTER THAN NATURE'S TEAMS?
5. AN OVERVIEW OF BIOTEAMING
6. BIRDS DO IT AND GREAT TEAMS DO IT, TOO
7. THE STATE OF BIOTEAMING
PART 2: BIOTEAMING -- THE DETAILED MODEL
8. HIDDEN BELIEFS OF HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS
9. THE BIOTEAMS LEADERSHIP ZONE
10. THE BIOTEAMS CONNECTIVITY ZONE
11. THE BIOTEAMS EXECUTION ZONE
12. THE BIOTEAMS ORGANIZATION ZONE
PART 3: THE MECHANISMS OF BIOTEAMING
13. PHEROMONE-STYLE COMMUNICATIONS
14. FOUR UNIQUE WAYS BIOTEAMS GET THINGS DONE
15. THE SIX KEY PROCESSES IN A BIOTEAM
16. THREE COMMUNICATION PATTERNS IN BIOTEAMS
17. THE 4 TYPES OF TEAMWORK IN A BIOTEAM
18. THE THREE TYPES OF RECOGNITION IN BIOTEAMS
19. THE THREE RINGS OF COMMITMENT IN A BIOTEAM
20. USING "LIVING SYSTEMS THEORY"
21. "REQUISITE VARIETY" IN BIOTEAMS
22. ECOSYSTEMS AND BIOTEAMS
PART 4: MEASURING BIOTEAM SUCCESS
23. A TEAM PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT SCORECARD
PART 5: SEVEN KEY BIOTEAMING TECHNIQUES
24. INTRODUCTION TO THE BIOTEAM TECHNIQUES
PART 6: BIOTEAMING CASE STUDIES
25. OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDIES
PART 7: FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN BIOTEAMS
26. BIOCROWDS -- THE NEXT EVOLUTION
INDEX -- NOT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Networked Enterprise:
Competing for the Future Through Virtual Enterprise Networks