These 4 Lessons that Procurement can Learn from Bees

In the beginning, it may be quite startling for a procurement professional to think if there is anything bees can teach humans. Aren’t humans the most evolved of all species-the most intelligent one? Indeed humans are the most discerning of all species, and that helps human learn from anything and anywhere. So, won’t it be smart to learn from bees as well?

In this article, am I talking about generic learning? No. I am referring to leadership strategies that procurement professionals can learn from bees. Excited? Read on. Sometimes the smallest of cues from the most absurd of places can help solve the biggest of problems.

Work Integration

Bees are very single-minded about their survival, which is possible only through hard-working. They also ensure they work in a team and look at the bigger picture than individual interest. Their focus is impeccable, and it is never easy to distract bees when they are hard at work or brainstorming for their next honey spot.

For your procurement function to perform as efficiently as bees do, you have to culture single-mindedness, team-working & collaboration. You have to inspire your procurement function to think of cost savings before individual comfort of avoiding technology. During tough times, think like a bee, gather your herd, and brainstorm together.


Bees dance in small circular movements to alert fellow members about the food available within 50 meters of the hive. They dance the sickle move to indicate fellow members to supplies within 50-150 meters. And the waggle dance to indicate the presence of food beyond 150 meters. Isn’t such a bright communication scheme?

What you can infer is the importance of a robust communication structure within your procurement function. Your communication can improve drastically with state-of-the-art Source-to-Pay technology. Like the bees, you don’t need to do the circular or the sickle or the waggle move to indicate your members toward best sourcing venue.

Procurement Agility

An average beehive has 20,000 to 50,000 bees. Division of labor and training aids their coordination that is inspiring. Each bee has a different responsibility, but they all work in unison. They acclimatize themselves to extreme environmental conditions to deliver on their key goal: to build the colony!

The dynamism that bees have can teach procurement to build on their agile management behavior. Consider a non-sequential workflow with a flat hierarchy where teams work parallelly in discrete projects through constant stakeholder interaction. In this entire eco-system, each member realizes their duty to execute without compromising compliance.

Strategic Leadership

At the end of it, there is the queen bee. This queen bee is not despotic contrary to popular notions of kings and queens. This queen bee is a modern-day leader who leads by example. She charts laws through demonstration. The queen bee lays eggs for the hive to flourish and entrusts duties to the most capable. She makes it all-inclusive.

As a procurement function leader, your task is to orchestrate your team to the vision of your organization. You also need to represent your team in the best light to your management. The idea is not just to save money but help your function scale to strategic leadership. You cannot invoke leadership through micromanagement. You need to demonstrate empathy and sharing best-practices.


Interesting, isn’t it? And of course, you agree with all the points; they are so relevant in the business of procurement. So, what’s next? Are you ready to work with the bee mentality and sting impossibilities through strategic measures? I am eager to hear from you and your team members. Let’s transform procurement and brand the function as an advantageous unit for the whole organization.

aishika bhattacharya

Published by
aishika bhattacharya

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