Human society has a lot to learn from the honeybee – these social insects live together harmoniously in colonies with tens of thousands of bees in a single hive. Every bee knows its role in the hive and executes on it without conflict, with a single-minded goal of producing honey. Driven by survival, there is a clear work ethic and all the bees work together to grow and maintain the hive.
I couldn’t help but think that characteristically, a well-planned and focused marketing or business development initiative in a law firm needs to be executed in the same way as a beehive. The professionals find a ‘business source’ (bees find pollen); and should be inclined to share the source across the organisation to collaborate on, build and secure the commercial opportunity for the benefit of the entire firm. Bees do this when they find a rich pollen source – they travel back to the hive and communicate the location to other bees through a special ‘dance’ which has been well documented over the years. What would happen to the hive, if the bee kept the pollen source all to itself?
Bees don’t wait their turn to bring in the pollen either, they do it simultaneously and collectively. They have also learnt to implement and deploy the most efficient internal structure – the hexagon – which offers the bees a safe location to store their pollen and nurture their larvae without hindering any other insect’s activity or effort; and so collectively strengthen and grow the hive for the well-being of all the inhabitants – the perfect evolutionary balance.
In business development speak, the hexagon shape represents the ideal client profile – proven to deliver profitable and rewarding mutual value for both the firm and the client. A continued focus on the hexagon is also representative of the internal effort involved in winning business. Bees don’t try to ‘make do’ with triangles or squares, they know that the most efficient and rewarding shape is always the hexagon and so to invest in constructing other shapes (clients) can be disastrous for the hive. Firms need to make sure that their CRM systems are supporting that ‘hexagon focus’ and are not inadvertently creating ill-fitting distractions. The more hexagons are built, the more repeatable the process becomes.
Visualise the business development function of a law firm as a beehive – a series of highly efficient “workers” all communicating in the same well thought out and understood way, designing their “products” for maximum efficiency, driven by a common, shared purpose and goal – to thrive.
There’s truly a case for law firm business development functions to be being more like bees!