Teamwork (what we can learn from birds)

Birds flying in V-formation is a good example of the benefits of teamwork. For example, this way of flying results in energy conservation and visual assurance compared with flying alone.

i) energy conservation

"...Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired..."

Weimerskirch at al, 2001

In this way the birds can fly for a longer time before they need to stop for a rest. Compared with birds that fly alone, the ones in formation beat their wings less and have lower heart rates, ie expend less energy and have lower stress.

Those in formation also tend to glide more (use less energy)

ii) visual assurance, ie easier to keep track of each bird in the group

It is thought that flying in formation improves communications and coordination within the group.

Furthermore, it may increase safety as predators are less likely to attack when there are numbers when compared with a single bird flying.

NB Fighter jets normally fly in V-formation

Other impacts of V-formation relevant to teams include

- there is less drag (less resistance, etc)

- they can take advantage of the lifting power of those around them (appreciate others' unique skills, talents, capabilities, etc to help each other work as a team, etc)

- rotate the leadership role, ie the birds take turns at being in the front (depending on the situation, having the most suitable person leading; sharing the workload, etc)

- help each other, ie if one bird leaves the formation, 2 other birds will go with him/her to protect him/her (need to understand and appreciate each other's professional and personal challenges in order to to help them; one's misfortune is shared by others, etc)

- overt celebrations, ie at different times birds in the V-formations make a lot of noise (especially when they reach certain milestones - they to celebrate overtly; encouraging others to keep going; being brave and courageous, etc)




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