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Rob Pardon


Organisational Development Consultant

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Compare with the Meerkats…


The Meerkat is currently one of the most popular animals in the public eye, mainly thanks to Aleksandr Orlov of Television adverts and Timon from the Lion King, and his own spin-off with Pumba - but what else can we learn from these fellows of the Mongoose family

There are two interesting elements to the Meerkat that I found particularly interesting...

Firstly, the Meerkat is unlike it's Mongoose relatives, the larger Mongoose is a either a solitary animal or they operate in pairs. The Meerkats form a community called a 'mob' or 'gang' of up to 40 members, they are dependent on this community for survival, though community living is not unique within the Animal Kingdom, this community works wonderfully together

Roles within the community include Foraging, Babysitting and Sentry duties,  no duties are specific to males and females, and all Meerkats can perform all duties regardless of social standing within the group, with the exception of the Alpha Male and Female. Unlike like many 'team' environments roles become easily identified, for example, to determine which Meerkat stays in the burrow babysitting the young is very simple - it's the least hungry. In addition to a wonderfully fluid team system, the Meerkat community is a flexible unit, when food is short, the Sentry must look out as well forage and when excavating burrows, the whole community work in lines excavating dirt together

How many organisations can boast a team ethic as successful as this? I'm sure lessons could be learnt from Meerkats...

The second interesting element to Meerkats is how they develop their young. In the Animal Kingdom, most young learn by observation and by failure, however the Meerkat is the 'trainer' of the animal world. A elder Meerkat will take on the responsibility of teach a pup the do's and do don'ts of being a Meerkat.  This includes how to raise young, how to forage for food, and what dangers lurk about.

Take hunting for example, the elder Meerkat will show the young how to hunt a scorpion, then, will present the young with dead scorpion for the young to 'hunt' - the elder will then catch a scorpion and remove the sting for the young to 'practice' on, and so on until the young can hunt successfully

So, the Meerkat is the natural trainer/instructor in the animal kingdom

I think this calls for a Meerkat 'team-building' exercise 


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Rob Pardon

Organisational Development Consultant

Read more from Rob Pardon

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