Advertising
Advertising

How to Emulate Life’s Genius: Introducing Biomimicry

How to Emulate Life’s Genius: Introducing Biomimicry

Have you ever noticed the most effective and efficient human creations are modeled from nature? From buildings designed like termite mounds to self-healing buildings developed using bacteria in the concrete; biomimicry is phenomenal approach to solve problems in a sustainable way.

Biomimicry (also known as Biomimetics) was coined by Otto Schmidt in the 1950s and describes the transfer of ideas and analogues from biology to technology. [1] It is the imitation of models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Biomimetics and biomimicry derive from Ancient Greece: bios (life) and mimesis (mimetics) is imitation or to imitate.

Using nature to solve problems

Nature has already solved our problems for us. It is up to us to discover how. Nature is a fascinating source of inspiration. It demonstrates how every organism is unique and how it is able to adapt to its own environment. [2]

“Nature is imaginative by necessity and has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with today.” – Janine Benyus

Nature is able to respond to its own needs and find solutions that work. In doing so, nature evolves and lasts through countless generations. Furthermore, biomimicry can be applied to completely transform the way we operate, conduct business, and even communicate. Let’s take a look at how biomimicry can be applied on three levels: [3]

  1. The natural form of organisms are used for inspiration. For example, mimicking the structure of a seashell leading to stronger buildings.
  2. Natural process leading to more sustainable materials. For example, mimicking chemical processes such as photosynthesis.
  3. The ecosystem. For example, mimicking the functional principles of an ecosystem.

Run an organization like a redwood forest

Jay Harman writes in his book The Shark’s Paintbrush, that a business should be run like a redwood forest. Harman informs us that a mature forest is a fully self-sustaining producer of diversity and abundance. He says that,

“Many businesses function more like an invasive weed, where their strategy is to spread rapidly into an area, lay down shallow roots, and use more than their share of local resources.”

Essentially, we overwhelm and destroy our habitat. In her book Biomimicry, Janine Benyus outlines how we should run our company like that of a redwood forest. In the image below, I have outlined her thought process for running an organization like a redwood forest.

    Benyus describes ten key ways to operate like a forest in order to create conditions conducive to further life.

    1. Use waste as a resource.
    2. Diversify and cooperate with other species to fully use the habitat.
    3. Gather and use energy efficiently.
    4. Optimize rather than maximize.
    5. Use materials sparingly.
    6. Don’t foul your nest.
    7. Draw up instead of down on resources.
    8. Remain in balance with the biosphere.
    9. Run on information.
    10. Shop locally.

    Examples of biomimicry

    Let’s take a brief look at some examples of biomimicry in action.

    Gecko tape

      The bullet train

        Cement like corals

        Advertising

          Passive cooling in buildings

            Self-healing buildings

              Harvesting fresh Water

                A paradigm shift in how we think

                Biomimicry offers us a unique way to see and solve problems. For example, by examining a forest, we find that a forest is actively communicating.

                “Biomimicry is basically taking a design challenge and then finding an ecosystem that’s already solved that challenge, and literally trying to emulate what you learn.” – Janine Benyus

                Similar to how the internet operates, fungal connectivity is taking place between plants. Yet, like the internet, it is also susceptible to cyber-crime, terrorism, and even warfare. [4]

                So, why not examine cyber-crime by examining the threats of fungal connectivity? How could we do this? By using biomimicry as a problem-solving methodology. Let’s take a look at how this could be accomplished.

                Advertising

                  Biological strategies and inspired ideas

                  AskNature.org is a powerful and free resource to use to explore biomimicry. It offers a way to find biological strategies, inspiring ideas, and resources to problems using nature.

                  For example, let’s say we want to find solutions to cyber security. By simply typing “cyber security” we are presented with unique strategies using nature to solve the problem (see image below). One such strategy is to look at how glands in Sea Hares secrete two compounds protecting the organism from predators by reacting together to create an unpalatable mixture of hydrogen peroxide and organic chemicals. Let’s take a quick look at how this could work with cyber security.

                    Step #1: Clearly define the challenge we are trying to solve

                    Improve cyber security vulnerabilities.

                    Step #2: Search for biological analogies and/or metaphors

                      Step #3: Determine whether the problem is related to form, function, or ecosystem

                      Form follows function (hence, form always comes before function). Think of form as the design of a building, where function is how we use the building.

                      Advertising

                      Step #4: Ask what plant, Animal, or Natural Process solves a similar problem most effectively

                      Using AskNature.org I was able to find the following potential solution: Sea Hare or Sea Snail.

                      Step #5: Map-out the biological model

                        Step #6: Design a solution

                          Using an abstract len, we could potentially use the sticky ink secretion of a Sea Hare as a cyber security protection concept that sticks to dangerous cyber intrusion and completely prevents it from infecting the network/system/device.

                          When we look to nature for solutions to contemporary problems, we find that biomimicry provides us a fascinating and unique way to truly improve everything around us. It offers us an opportunity to redesign everything in existence. In essence, biomimicry brings about answers because it forces us to ask the right questions.

                          Reference

                          [1] Julian Vincent, Olga Bogatyreva, Nikolaj Bogatyrev, Adrian Bowyer, Anja-Karina Pahl: Biomimetics its practice and theory
                          [2] Rasha Mahmoud Ali El-Zeiny: Biomimicry as a Problem Solving Methodology in Interior Architecture
                          [3] SlideShare: Biomimicry Civil Engineering Applications
                          [4] Timewheel.net: Plants communicate using an internet of fungus

                          More by this author

                          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

                          How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain 5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

                          Trending in Smartcut

                          1 11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities 2 11 Organizational Skills That Every Smart Leader Needs 3 How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life 4 Top 10 Management Skills Any Strong Leader Should Master 5 How to Delegate Work Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide)

                          Read Next

                          Advertising
                          Advertising
                          Advertising

                          Last Updated on September 18, 2019

                          15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

                          15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

                          You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

                          Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

                          A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

                          Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

                          So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

                          1. Purge Your Office

                          De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

                          Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

                          Advertising

                          Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

                          2. Gather and Redistribute

                          Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

                          3. Establish Work “Zones”

                          Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

                          Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

                          4. Close Proximity

                          Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

                          5. Get a Good Labeler

                          Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

                          6. Revise Your Filing System

                          As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

                          Advertising

                          What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

                          Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

                          • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
                          • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
                          • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
                          • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
                          • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
                          • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
                          • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

                          Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

                          7. Clear off Your Desk

                          Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

                          If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

                          8. Organize your Desktop

                          Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

                          Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

                          Advertising

                          Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

                          9. Organize Your Drawers

                          Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

                          Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

                          10. Separate Inboxes

                          If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

                          11. Clear Your Piles

                          Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

                          Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

                          12. Sort Mails

                          Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

                          Advertising

                          13. Assign Discard Dates

                          You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

                          Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

                          14. Filter Your Emails

                          Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

                          When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

                          Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

                          15. Straighten Your Desk

                          At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

                          Bottom Line

                          Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

                          Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

                          More Organizing Hacks

                          Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

                          Read Next