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The Widsom of Bees
by Michael O'Malley

Release Date: 4th Nov 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978 0 6709 1948 2
RRP: £9.99

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How the humble honeybee can help improve your business...

Synonymous with hard work, efficiency and extreme organisation; Bees are an obvious association when it comes to discussing how to improve the inner workings of your business. What is perhaps less obvious is how to implement the concepts available. O’Malley’s The Wisdom of Bees is a no nonsense, no frills manual of 25 ‘lessons’ that can be put to practical use regardless of the type of business you run or the structure of organisation you belong to.

For the sceptics, the foreword is not exactly encouraging. Highlighting the observation that bees tend to be devoid of personal agendas, emotional displays of jealousy or rivalry and ambition can only lead to the stumbling block: humans are all of those things! It would seem that a beehive is an organisational utopia: but how? Even without the office politicking, backstabbing and self-centred nature of human beings; businesses rarely run as smoothly, economically or as soundly as a beehive. This is where The Wisdom of Bees illustrates its true value. Focusing instead on the achievable, whilst acknowledging the enviable and desirable aspects of a bee community turns a sense of fatalism into something akin to hope. Even better, the vast majority of the ‘lessons’ are sensible and practicable. Most are also commonsense-based, even if you hadn’t considered their business application before. For example, consider the notion of future-proofing your business. On the surface it makes complete sense; however, does your organisation take future-proofing as seriously as it should? What percentage of profits is reinvested in R&D? How about training staff? Or, how about the decision to make ‘good enough’ decisions? – Consciously enabling the business to act promptly rather than being paralysed by a need to know every last minute detail. Such concepts and their respective arguments are compelling.

An abundance of great ideas is great: If you have the authority or impetus to initiate them. And let’s face it: the only way The Wisdom of Bees can impact your business or organisation is if you have both the authority and desire to implement their lessons, but such is true of all self-help books such as this. What O’Malley provides in bucket loads is calm, assured and accessible narrative that makes itself at home inside your head and makes this one of the top business books of 2010.


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