To RoboBee or Not to RoboBee

I was watching the National Geographic channel the other night and there was a short film, from a series entitled Innovation Explorers, about a scientist working in robotics. He starts with what he admits is a grand statement; that “robotics will be the next internet”, before explaining the project they’re working on; building a drone of bee-like robots, inspired by nature. He explains that while individual bees cannot fly far, by working together, they are very successfully before adding that his robobees “could be useful in applications where you don’t want to put a human or animal”.


Taken at face value, this appears to be a great example of “innovation for the sake of innovation”. It’s not clear how this innovation could be put to practical use; what currently unsolvable problem will suddenly be unlocked by the appearance of a robobee (or, indeed, a hive of robobees) on the scene. They’re going to have to wait and see if someone else can find the problem that only a robobee can solve.

This set my mind off in 2 directions. The first is the parallel with what I see happening in many organisations. Innovation is important (it must be because everyone says so). Innovation is “the next big thing” and “if you don’t innovate, you die”. Now, there’s obviously truth in that; think of all the former global giants who’ve been on the wrong side of a disruption and are now desperately playing “catch-up” or have retired from the race altogether. But many organisations don’t stop to think about the basic questions: what, where and why do they need to innovate? They start with a generic “how?” and, in many cases I’ve seen, the result looks something like a mid-90s “Employee Suggestion Scheme”. The focus is on ideation, and generally it’s quantity over quality.

Without a clear focus, ideas may come thick and fast but very few are addressing the “big issues”. And, more often than not, the system becomes overloaded as the process for sorting the “gold from the dirt” cannot cope. The organisations that “get it” focus the creative energy and talent of the people, and other stakeholders, on the strategic challenges they face. They start with a set of specific problems that need to be solved. They don’t start with a solution, then go looking for the problem it solves.

Which takes me back to the other direction my somewhat scrambled brain wandered off in; what do bees actually do? For years, scientists have tried to work out how such a tiny, fragile and, let’s face it, not very agile creature manages to survive. How can they fly such long distances with those wings? How do they communicate the location of food sources so effectively? How do they even remember where those food sources are with such a tiny brain? The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed these are the “how”, not “what” questions. With all the coverage of COP24, it’s clear the scientists are now understanding the “what” better than the “how” as, with global bee populations declining, we’re finding out the hard way what they do. It may be too late to find out how.

Which leads me back to our intrepid inventor and his robobees. Maybe this is his niche – the problem that fits his solution. Maybe his robobees can help the eco-system survive by doing what real bees do, while someone else works out how we can help the bees recover their numbers sufficiently. But, if we’re going to be able to successfully create a robobee capable of doing this job, we would have to have a better understanding not only of what they do, but how they do it.

However, as a species, maybe we have taken a step forward. At least we have now identified a problem that needs an innovative solution. Get your thinking caps on.

BEX partners with CIMMO

The Institute is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement with the Chartered Institute of Marketing Management of Ontario in Canada to promote excellence and to collaborate on marketing excellence. “We are delighted to partner with the Chartered Institute of Marketing Management of Ontario,” commented John Bourke, President of The Business Excellence Institute, “the cooperation will add value for our members in Canada and will benefit both organizations”.

Season’s Greetings & Best Wishes for an Excellent 2019

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and Holiday season and all the best for an excellent year in 2019

Feliz Navidad  –  Joyeux Noël  –  Buon Natale  –  Frohe Weihnachten  –  Veselé Vánoce  –  Boldog Karácsonyt  –  Glædelig jul  –  Vrolijk Kerstfeest  –  Hyvää Joulua  –  Wesołych Świąt  –  Feliz Natal  –  Καλά Χριστούγεννα  –  С Рождеством  –  З Різдвом Христовим  –  Maligayang pasko  –  Nollaig Shona  –  God jul  –  Mừng Chúa Giáng Sinh  –  メリークリスマス  –  สุขสันต์วันคริสมาสต์  –  חג מולד שמח  –  मेरी क्रिसमस  –  聖誕快樂  –  圣诞快乐  –  메리 크리스마스  –  كريسمس مبارك  –  كريسمس سعيدة

Excellence Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees

Dublin, Ireland, 5 December, 2018

The Business Excellence Institute is delighted to announce that the successful nominees, elected to the Excellence Hall of Fame for 2019 are, in alphabetical order by first name, Clara Shih, Feargal Quinn, and Henry Mintzberg.

Clara Shih,

Clara Shih

Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Henry Mintzberg

Henry Mintzberg

Clara Shih – Founder Hearsay Social & Board Member of Starbucks

Clara started her career aged 15 in Femilab. She later earned co-terminal Bachelors and Masters degrees in Economics & Computer Science from Stanford before earning her second Masters from Oxford while working for Google in the UK. After Google, she joined prior to starting her own company, Hearsay Systems. She has since written two bestselling books, been appointed to the board of Starbucks, and has been named one of Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs”. You can learn more about her here.

Feargal Quinn – Founder Superquinn & Senator

Feargal is one of Ireland’s most popular entrepreneurs. He founded the Superquinn supermarket chain which helped introduce supermarkets to Ireland in the 60s. An internationally respected retailer, he has served as chairman of the Irish Post Office and as a Senator in the Irish Senate. He has written 3 books and has been a Marketing Professor in NUI Galway. He shared a “Listener of the Year” award with Oprah Winfrey and has been awarded both a Papal Knighthood and the Ordre National du Mérite. You can learn more about him here.

Henry Mintzberg – Professor of Management, McGill University, Montréal

Henry has been one of the world’s leading management thinkers for many years. After earning his PhD from MIT, he joined the faculty in McGill University in Montréal and, while there, has served as a consultant to numerous businesses and governments. He was the first management academic to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has recieved many other accolades including 18 honorary doctorates. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and an Officier de l’Ordre National du Québec. You can learn more about him here.

The Induction Ceremony is a Black Tie Gala Dinner with a “fireside chat” that will take place in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, on Thursday, 28 March, 2019.


About The Business Excellence Institute

The Business Excellence Institute is a membership body that promotes business excellence as a multi-disciplinary profession, excellence in management, and the use of innovative approaches to personal and organizational development. It works with individuals and organizations ranging from small family businesses to federal governments to help them deliver outstanding results for all their stakeholders. It has members on 5 continents and while predominantly practitioner focused, it also has academic members.


Tickets for the Induction Ceremony Gala Dinner, can be purchased here

Dianne Tyers, Jennifer McDonald & Tom Butterly elected Fellows

We are delighted to announce that Dianne Tyers (Canada), Jennifer McDonald (Jamaica), and Tom Butterly (Switzerland) have been elected as Fellows of the Institute.

Dianne Tyers FBEI

Dianne Tyers

Jennifer McDonald FBEI

Jennifer McDonald

Tom Butterly FBEI

Tom Butterly

Dianne Tyers

Dianne is an educational consultant and entrepreneur with almost two decades’ experience running her own company. She has developed products and services – including teacher education – for educational bodies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. She has also conducted numerous educational sector quality assurance projects around the globe. Dianne holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical and Health Education (University of Toronto), an MA in Applied Linguistics (University of Queensland), an MBA (Ivey School of Business) and a PhD in Entrepreneurial Education (University of Toronto).


Jennifer McDonald

Jennifer is an international management consultant & corporate brand transformation specialist. She began her career as an economist with the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica. She was later instrumental in building Jamaica’s National Land Agency before taking on the role of Chief Executive of its Passport Immigration & Citizenship Agency. Jennifer holds a BA in Geography & Economics, a Diploma in Management Studies, and an MBA in Marketing (University of the West Indies). She has also studied Energy Project Management at the University of Connecticut and Organizational Development at Harvard.


Tom Butterly

Tom is a leading international trade facilitation and development expert and a consultant to organisations including the OECD, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, and a number of UN agencies. He has experience working in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and previously served as Deputy Chief of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Trade & Economic Development Division and as its Chief of Trade Facilitation. Tom holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Economics (Dalhousie University) and a Diploma in Telecommunications Technology (Technological University Dublin).

International Business Learning Games Competition Results

Lisbon, Portugal, 24 September 2018

Congratulations to all the competition finalists and to the games that took home awards at this year’s International Business Learning Games Competition. The competition, sponsored by Banco Santander, saw a large number of entries reduced, after multiple run-throughs by the judges, to only 12 finalists:

  • ActeeLeadership   (Denmark)
  • AdVenture   (The Netherlands)
  • Bedaux Mythical Mailbox   (The Netherlands)
  • Entrepreneurial Thinking   (Canada)
  • Future of Energy Simulation   (Norway)
  • Innovate or Dinosaur Game   (Canada)
  • Innovation Management Game   (The Netherlands)
  • The Collaboration Journey Challenge   (USA)
  • The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine   (USA)
  • Trip Game   (Portugal)
  • Unlock: Project Management   (UK)

The Award Winners were:

Award Game Entrant
Game of the Year Future of Energy Simulation Specifique (Norway)
Game of the Year Runner Up Innovate or Dinosaur Traction Strategy (Canada)
Most Ambitious Game ActeeLeadership Actee (Denmark)

About The International Business Learning Games Competition

The International Business Learning Games Competition was created to encourage the use of new, innovative approaches to professional development by promoting the use of Learning Games as an educational technology. It recognises achievements and acknowledges the best games in the field from around the globe, inspiring the development of new innovative learning games for business.

Games are judged by an international panel of judges that combines expertise in business, pedagogy and game design, using a specially developed evaluation framework with input from educational experts and serious game designers. For more information on the competition see:

About The Business Excellence Institute

The Business Excellence Institute is a membership body, with members on five continents, dedicated to helping people – and the organizations they work for – deliver outstanding results for all their stakeholders. It promotes business excellence as a multi-disciplinary profession, excellence in management, and the use of innovative approaches to personal and organizational development. Through its members, it supports organisations ranging from small family run businesses to federal governments on their journeys to excellence.

Game of the Year Award

Lars Pedersen, Petter Engelstad, and Adrian Helvik of Specifique for Future of Energy Simulation

Specifique Future of Energy Simulation

Game of the Year Runner Up

Tamara Eberle of Traction Strategy for Innovate or Dinosaur

Traction Strategy Innovate or Dinosaur

Most Ambitious Game

Lief Sørensen and Maja Spangsberg Krogstrup of Actee for ActeeLeadership


Contact: Matt Fisher Tel: +353-1-5134500

High Resolution Photos
Game of the Year
Game of the Year Runner Up
Most Ambitious Game

Dwight Mihalicz elected a Fellow of the Institute

Dwight Mihalicz

Dwight Mihalicz FBEI

We are delighted to announce that Dwight Mihalicz has been elected a Fellow of the Institute.

Dwight is a management consultant, thinker, and author with over 40 years’ experience working at local, national, and international levels in not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. He started his career in 1973 with the Canadian Red Cross and rose to the position of Director of Revenue Generation for the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies in Geneva. He has served on the board of UNICEF Canada and as Director of the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. He has also served as the Treasurer of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes.

Dwight is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Management Consultants and holds MBA from the University of Ottawa.

NEW: the Pragmatic Manager Development Program

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Pragmatic Manager Development Program. The highly interactive program consists of twelve 2.5 hours sessions – spaced a month apart – over the course of a year. It combines work on real-life business challenges with exposure to global good practice. Participants are required to apply learning in their workplace during the program, which brings benefit to their companies and develops management know-how along with the focus and commitment needed to achieve both rapid impact and long-term, sustainable improvement.

Neal Traynor, the Institute’s COO, says “We’re excited to launch the program, which is carefully crafted to equip practicing managers in small and medium sized businesses and family businesses with the know-how, skills, and confidence to develop their management and leadership abilities. It’s been developed by practicing managers, not by academics, and requires participants to work on challenges they face at work as part of the program.”

The program commences on 19 November 2018 for people in Dublin prior to further roll-out. Enrolment is now open and spaces are limited – for more information see The Pragmatic Manager Development Program.