By: Rebecca Kersting & Annette Perez Issue: Vision Section: Inspiration The previous two issues of ICOSA featured stories that exemplified the building of a functional infrastructure, similar to a spider’s web, and the storing and sharing of resources, like bees in a hive. However infrastructure and resource management are only two of the five components necessary for true collaboration to occur. The third component is vision represented by the dragonfly and its many eyes.
Dragonflies and their close relatives, damselflies, are the only surviving representatives of the ancient flying insects. In fact, there are nearly 1,000 different varieties of the dragonfly on the planet.
The dragonfly’s large compound eyes are among its most notable features and arguably, its most important attribute. Each compound eye is made up of many smaller eyes. The individual smaller eyes are able to create images on their own. However, the real advantage to this adaptation is the ability to form a big picture by synthesizing all these images together instantaneously. As one of the first orders of flying insects, another important characteristic of the dragonfly is its four lattice wings. These wings are not true appendages, like legs, but are actually extensions of the exoskeleton. Although they appear to be quite delicate, the coordinated movements of these sturdy wings make it possible for the dragonfly to fly forward and backward, and even hover. These maneuvers are possible because the forewings of a dragonfly beat independently from the hind wings, increasing flight stability. Their wings are strong enough to propel them forward at 100 body-lengths per second. Interestingly, it is much more difficult for the insect to fly backward, which it can only do at a rate of three body-lengths per second. Both organizational infrastructure and resource management are key to creating a strong and efficient collaborative team. And once an organization has these systems in place, a plan—a vision—must be prepared.
Like the dragonfly, a collaborative organization must see all individual images simultaneously by drawing them together into one flawless image. Vision helps to direct the team to a common goal. Comparable to the image created by the compound eye, imagine the big picture of an organization as being the sum of multiple perspectives combined to form one complete image. Collaborative vision combines past experiences with the constant presence of ideals to establish goals, dreams, and ideas for where organizations will go in the future. In this issue we will look at real examples of individuals and groups, who, like the dragonfly, are using their “compound eyes” to see the big picture.