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THE BEEKEEPER by Katie P. Desiderio


by Katie P. Desiderio & Michael G. Frino

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2023
ISBN: 9781394165261
Publisher: Wiley

A fictional work highlights leadership principles.

In the tradition of the blockbuster book Who Moved My Cheese? (1998) by Spencer Johnson, corporate veterans Desiderio and Frino have crafted a business fable that metaphorically compares beekeeping with leading a business. The story centers on Catherine, now a successful organizational consultant, who narrates a flashback story of how she evolved from her role as owner of a rapidly growing essential-oils business. While vacationing with her family on a tourist farm, she crosses paths with the place’s owner and beekeeper, Henry Ives, the former CEO of a marketing firm. Her chance meeting with Henry and subsequent conversations with him about how bees function inspire her to send motivational emails to her managers while she is away. For example, when Henry explains the nature of the honeybees’ hive, Catherine sends her leadership team an email that reads: “The hive is at the core of learning and growth and bees provide the nourishment for all things to grow. Bees work together and are focused on the same mission.” As the story unfolds, a number of leadership principles derived from what Catherine learns about bees are revealed. Of course, all these principles begin with the word Be—“Be Transformational,” “Be Curious,” “Be Growth-Minded,” and so on. The authors keep readers engaged by adding other characters and depicting various educational and sometimes amusing farm scenes, as when Catherine’s family feeds the pigs. Particularly enlightening is the last part of the book, which steps away from the farm narrative to expose how staffers back at the office are reacting to the emails sent by Catherine, who is not fully aware of the transformational impact she is having on her organization’s culture. The similarities of the beehive, worker bees, and even the queen bee to a well-oiled company run by humans are not only relevant, but at times startlingly accurate as well. The authors very effectively make the connection, although some readers may roll their eyes at the overabundance of bee-related puns. Still, as business fables go, this one largely succeeds.

Creatively written, cleverly packaged advice for organizational leaders.