Biomimicry is defined as follow:
Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Other terms often used are bionics, bio-inspiration, and biognosis.
I’d go a step further and include the cosmic level as well, cosmic laws are the hard boundaries, the pre-conditions where nature is an outcome of its laws.
This field of science is gaining traction and offers us learnings acquired through the billions of years of existence. It’s often used in Design and the more materialised disciplines, have a look at these 15 examples.
It will be a matter of time when biomimicry will invade the co-creation space. It is all about people and behaviour, about relationships and influences between entities and its environment. Now that the business landscape has opened up, both organisations and target audiences have newly acquired influences upon each other and new symbiotic opportunities (and challenges) to be aware and learn from.
Four examples of biomimicry that apply on social media and the open environment:
A well-known application of nature on social media is the Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith:
The dragonfly is the only insect able to propel itself in any direction when its four wings are working in concert. It symbolizes the importance of integrated effect and is akin to the ripple effect—a term used in economics, sociology, and psychology to indicate how small acts can create big change. To us, the Dragonfly Effect shows how synchronised ideas can be used to create rapid transformations through social media.
Survival of the most adaptable
This one seems to easy, but it’s important to really understand this axiom and the changing business environment. “Survival of the most adaptable” is perfectly in lign with the opportunities and threats that are brought upon.
organisations that understand their target audience quickly and know how to infiltrate that knowledge into the internal organisation have the opportunity to be truly customer-centric, in an efficient way, creating a real symbiotic and reciprocal relation.
The threat lies in the time aspect, adapt too slow and others will cannibalise your share. Product and industry life cycles become shorter and are more steep, imposing organisations to adapt as quickly and as relevantly as possible. The other challenge is that most of the knowledge in social media is open to everyone. Competitive intelligence is free and out in the open, if competitors understand an organisation’s brand and perception, this will lay even more pressure to evolve faster and uniquely.
Besides laws from the natural order, metaphysics also kick in when talking about the immune system.
The Eastern once said that the outside is a reflexion of the inside. This is in lign with the fact that the brand is in hands of the customers, not by the organisation self. When there are internal flaws, in the open environment this will have a quick effect on brand perception and portfolio performance. A healthy organisation is able to thrive better, harnessed against the constant flux of external demands and changing trends.
Another example is how the Roman spirit dissolved when soldiers came into contact with foreign beliefs, for instance Mithraic religion that infiltrated Romanity. When once “DNA” is being altered and challenged, i.e. a person isn’t a fully convinced ambassador of its own belief (both mission- and vision statement) the organisation, be that a person, an organisation up to a complete empire, is being weakened from the inside. People are ones’ most important asset. This relates to cyclic involution, understanding this is a phase which will or most probably occur to anyone or anything, makes forecasting or scenario planning “easier” and be able to deal better with it.
In a world of widely distributed knowledge, organisations can’t and shouldn’t want to rely on internal research solely. First of all because it can’t benefit from experience and knowledge from other sources/stakeholders. Secondly because this adheres the concept of an ecotone:
An ecotone is a transition area between two adjacent but different patches of landscape, such as forest and grassland. It may be narrow or wide, and it may be local (the zone between a field and forest) or regional (the transition between forest and grassland ecosystems). An ecotone may appear on the ground as a gradual blending of the two communities across a broad area, or it may manifest itself as a sharp boundary line.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension.
These are the places where much innovation occurs, being a convergence and collision of two systems, affecting each other and generating new ideas and outcomes. This is in lign with the concept of open innovation. Here you can see a great video on Steven Johnson’s view where ideas come from.
Because knowledge is distributed and each has its own background and experience, colliding this for innovation is an effect to claim the reciprocal relation between internal and external stakeholders. But also think of convergence and its impact on multiple industries, for instance the TV industry, being affected by others as well, being forced to transform and adapt in order to survive.
Think also about multi-disciplinary teams where each his or her unique expertise are fused into a team, getting the most out of a group of individuals.
Explanatory or exploratory?
Biomimicry does both. In the cases above it explains, the second step would be to understand the outcomes of such processes to forecast the effect. The exploration side would be taking into account the natural and cosmic in business. This can range from micro processes internally, a single person, internal and external behaviour of an organisation, PLC’s to complete industries and macro-economic topics.
Humans and its complex nature aren’t alien or immune to these laws, even if modern life may let us think that. Our ancestors were able to intertwine cosmos and nature in to their daily lives and business, adhering and respecting the opportunities they gave.
The examples showed this and something as human-centric as the networked world can benefit of biomimicry.
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