January 25 , 2016 /


I watched two garden spiders, connected by the same web, work their magic. I sat there in amazement as they worked to restore and expand their web, eat or store a few insects along the way that had signaled their arrival and entrapment.   You have no doubt seen a spider scamper across a few strands in order to wrap up this unsuspecting invader for a later meal.
These two spiders appeared to be of the same variety, small, yellow spots, long nimble legs, the larger one about 25 millimeters including large, jointed legs and the tiny one less than half that size.  At first I wondered if these two were from the same family, cooperating and collaborating, or if they were competitors, the larger ready to consume the smaller at any moment.  Or might it become a David and Goliath scenario?
You have probably heard that spiders eat their young and it turns out that a mother spider will often feed herself to her young in order for them to grow.  Talk about the ultimate sacrifice!  There is also a tremendous amount of research about spider webs as they are extremely strong and resilient.  Materials scientists have taken numerous lessons from what a spider web is and how it functions.
As the wind blew and the web seemed to stretch about 30 centimeters and spring back to its original form, I kept watching intently at both the web and the two spiders.  They would work very fast and precisely for a short time and then go back to a spot and wait, I thought possibly resting from their intense work.  Or maybe they were making more silk. Or waiting for the next morsel. There are people who spend their lives studying these things.  I am just a casual observer.
While watching all of this activity, I kept thinking about how those of us who have worked with organizations could have a field day with this exercise.   Take your team to the garden, find a spider web, look carefully and quietly for at least half an hour to an hour and see what you might learn from the experience.  Let your minds wander, take notes, and then gather and share your observations and reactions.  And while you’re at it, you might check out some of the research.
I just went outside to check on my two spiders and sure enough, they are there, ready for this new day and so am I.   I think they might also have been working all night in the repair and replace mode although they do have circadian rhythms that vary by species.

Comments (2)

  1. Team building around the spider web! I read an article earlier today about brainstorming too and the author suggested that when the group gets together to brainstorm you actually get less ideas than when individuals go away individually to do their creative thinking and then come back together with the team. Very much consistent with what you're suggesting. I'd be interested to see the variety of ahas and applications from the visit with the spiders.

  2. Thanks, Alli. The spider appears to work as one individual creating this awesome work of art and engineering. I have not looked into the research on spiders and the applications of both materials and design, although its intriguing.

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