“Creative swarming” is highly beneficial for individuals and compa-
nies alike. It is the best way of coming up with cool new ideas. As groups
of people, we are coolfarmers of new ideas, reusing old ideas, combin-
ing them, and converting them into new ones. The question now is:
What do these basic insights in swarm creativity mean for coolfarmers?
To take a first deep-dive into the inner workings of creative swarms,
let’s leave the human coolfarmers for a moment and look again at the
bees, those intrinsically motivated coolfarmers in the animal kingdom.
Lessons from the Beehive
Swarms of bees are unbelievably successful at coolhunting and cool-
farming. A bee hunting for honey is like a human coolhunter. While
the human coolhunter is hunting for the latest cool trends, the bee
coolhunter is hunting for honey. The parallel also applies to cool-
farming. A bee doing her waggle dance to recruit other bees to her
honey source corresponds to the coolfarming members of a COIN
recruiting other people to join their cause. So let’s look at what
human coolfarmers can learn from the way bees do their coolhunt-
ing and coolfarming.
Bees are exemplars of self-organization, accomplishing the most
complex tasks seemingly without central coordination. Bees build
perfectly shaped hexagonal honeycombs without any obvious leaders.
They raise their brood in perfect communal sharing. The swarm
decides who will become the new queen; the old queen does not, as
one might expect, make this decision through laying a special egg.
Their self-organizing system to allocate resources to honey collection
through waggle dancing is so effective that operators of web server
farms have started copying it. In a waggle dance, a bee, which has
found a promising honey source, starts “dancing” in the hive, with
other bees joining her dance. Her dance tells the other bees where to
find the honey source. The more excited the first waggle dancer is,
the more other bees will join the dance and subsequently start flying
to the same honey source. In fact, it makes more sense to look at the
entire swarm of bees as one immortal superorganism rather than
focusing on the individual bee. The way that bees swarm—creating a
superorganism—can be a blueprint for the “creator-COIN-CLN-
CIN” process. While a swarm of bees splits and replicates to carry on
and improve its gene pool, the members of COINs grow in number
and split as carriers of new ideas and trends.
Figure 2–3 illustrates the four-step coolfarming process for hon-
eybees. The creator of a new swarm is the queen bee, setting out to
create a new hive. Once the swarm has left the hive by following the
queen, it first temporarily settles on a branch, clustered around the
queen (Figure 2–4). The swarm then sends out scouts to hunt for a
permanent location for the hive. These bee scouts are the equivalent
of the COIN members and coolhunters. They need to convince their
sisters back in the swarm of the merits of the new location for the
swarm. First, they individually try to influence their sisters through
active waggle dancing. The bee whose waggle dance is the most con-
vincing will slowly but steadily grow her following. Other bees will
pick up her waggle dancing and pass on the location to other waggle
dancers. This gradually growing group of coolhunters corresponds to
the Collaborative Learning Network (CLN), where new members
How swarming bees do their coolfarming.
join the original COIN by learning the tricks of the trade—or the
location of the new hive—from the core COIN members.
Once enough bees in the swarm accept the merits of the new hive
location, the swarm literally explodes, which means it gets over the
tipping point. This explosion is triggered by the coolhunting bees, the
CLN and COIN members beeping at other bees, climbing from one
bee to the next within the swarm cluster. Beeping is different from
waggle dancing; it is a much faster way for the CLN and COIN
members to convince their sisters of their idea by simply telling them
that the time has come to move on to the new location. The bees
being beeped at pick up the beep; consequently, they also slightly raise
their body temperature, gradually increasing the temperature of the
entire swarm. Once the swarm temperature is over a threshold—the
tipping point—the swarm explodes, all bees start flying, and then,
guided by the coolhunting bees, follow them to the new location of
There, the entire swarm gets down to business, and—turn-
ing into a Collaborative Interest Network (CIN)—starts building
honeycombs and a new home for the hive.