MORE EFFECTIVE, LESS CLEVER STRATEGIES:
"If you place in a bottle half a dozen bees and the same number of flies, and lay the bottle horizontally, with its base [the closed end] to the window, you will find that the bees will persist, till they die of exhaustion or hunger, in their endeavor to discover an [opening] through the glass; while the flies, in less than two minutes, will all have sallied forth through the neck on the opposite side.
It is [the bees'] love of flight, it is their very intelligence, that is their undoing in this experiment. They evidently imagine that the issue from every prison must be where the light shines clearest; and they act in accordance, and persist in too-logical action. To [bees] glass is a supernatural mystery .. . and, the greater their intelligence, the more inadmissible, more incomprehensible, will the strange obstacle appear.
Whereas the featherbrained flies, careless of logic . . . flutter wildly hither and thither, and meeting here the good fortune that often waits on the simple ... necessarily end up by discovering the friendly opening that restores their liberty to them." (Gordon Siu, in Peters and Waterman, 1982:108)
Do we have too many bees making strategy and not enough flies?
Thanks to Henry Mintzberg for referring me to this story which explains why really smart people can over think strategies and be quite surprised when the "flies" seem to be doing much better than them!
Discover the peer learning topic on Strategic Thinking as Seeing before your next strategic planning retreat.