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What can teams learn from elephants?

March 9, 2011

If only there really was an elephant – or two – in the room, teamwork might improve.

Team of elephants

Researchers have documented elephants in the wild helping each other

Research just published by Cambridge University and featured on BBC news confirms that elephants will cooperate and work effectively as a team: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9417000/9417308.stm.

Previously scientists had demonstrated that a single elephant will pull on a rope in order to bring food within reach. The most recent experiment required two elephants to tug each end of a rope simultaneously to draw a platform with food closer. The rope was threaded all the way around a platform – like a belt through belt loops – so if one just end was pulled, the rope simply slipped and the platform did not move. Even when one lone elephant had access to the rope the researches found that it would wait for its team-mate before attempting to pull on the rope.

Many team members could learn much from elephants’ combination of patience and co-operation.

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