Summary of The Perfect Swarm

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The Perfect Swarm book summary
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  • Analytical
  • Innovative
  • Concrete Examples


As its title suggests, this lively book often makes its points with humor and wit. Physicist and author Len Fisher draws on laboratory experiments, observations of the natural world, well-known historical events, contemporary cases and examples from his own life, making a complex subject accessible. His book covers some ground that will be familiar from other books on group intelligence, collaboration and the wisdom of crowds, but the material on “swarm intelligence” is new. Fisher’s numerous examples from all facets of nature provide highly fascinating case studies of group behavior. getAbstract recommends this book to professionals in marketing and strategy, and to trainers and readers who are interested in new ways of thinking.

About the Author

Len Fisher, Ph.D., wrote How to Dunk a Doughnut, Weighing the Soul and Rock, Paper, Scissors. He is a visiting fellow of physics at the University of Bristol.



The “Science of Complexity”

Have you ever watched a swarm of insects and wondered why the individual flies do not collide? They avoid one another and work better together than they could alone because they follow certain rules. The science of complexity studies these rules, analyzing the patterns and processes of “self-organization.” These rules allow complex structures and relationships to emerge out of chaos, without any “central director” or single intelligence guiding the process.

Chaos turns to order at different rates of speed depending on the system: Think of the difference between the swirling pattern in your coffee after you add the cream and changes throughout an entire ecosystem following a temperature rise. Systems exhibit two types of “dynamic patterns”:

  1. “Cycles” – These sequences repeat themselves over and over, going nowhere, like a family quarrel.
  2. “Adaptive systems” – The elements in these systems adjust according to changes in circumstances, for example, when a cheering audience begins to applaud in unison.

Certain kinds of relationships among the individual components characterize ...

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