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Dung Roamin'

Optimize Blog - February 4, 2013 - 0 comments

So there we were thinking about strategy when the lowly Dung Beetle sprang to mind. Bear with us on this…… It seems that the beetle uses our Milky Way as a reference marker for navigation. This is being investigated by Dr. Dacke from the Lund University in Sweden.
According to Dr. Dacke “The Dung Beetles are not necessarily rolling with the Milky Way or 90 degrees to it; they can go at any angle to this band of light in the sky. They use it as a reference”.
Dung Beetles like to do their work in nice straight lines, mostly with their heads down and their butts up!! When they find a pile of droppings, they shape a small ball and start pushing it away to a safe distance where apparently they will eat it, usually underground.
Getting a good bearing is important because unless the insect rolls a direct course, it risks turning back towards the dung pile where another beetle might try to steal its prized ball of dung – in other words, they would be going around in circles and be taken advantage of by a competitor.
Dr. Dacke had previously shown that Dung Beetles were able to keep a straight line by taking cues from the Sun, the Moon, and even the pattern of polarized light formed around these light sources. But it was the creatures’ capacity to maintain course even on clear Moonless nights that intrigued the researcher. She took some of the insects into the Johannesburg planetarium where she could control the type of star fields a beetle might see overhead.
Importantly, she put the beetles in a container with blackened walls to be sure the animals were not using information from landmarks on the horizon, which in the wild might be trees, for example.
The beetles performed best when confronted with a perfect starry sky projected on to the planetarium dome, but coped just as well when shown only the diffuse bar of light that is the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dr. Dacke thinks it is the bar more than the points of light that is important.
Strategy is like the Milky Way. It is the frame of reference for the decisions made about the organization’s direction or course. So just as the lowly Dung Beetle needs a bearing to navigate from, so too does a company require a clear line of sight and sense of direction.
Like the beetle, avoiding going around in circles and being stripped of our prize by a competitor is an organizational imperative. Having a clear strategy and sense of direction will enable us to steer a course to our goal and like our friend the Dung Beetle, a place to enjoy the spoils of our efforts.
So there you have it – strategy and the Dung Beetle. And you thought that we might just have lost it…….

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