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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

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          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.

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                  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.

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                      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

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                          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                          Last Updated on January 24, 2020

                          10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

                          10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

                          Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

                          Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

                          Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

                          • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
                          • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
                          • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

                          Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

                          Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

                          Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

                          That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

                          1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

                          I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

                          Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

                          Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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                          2. Be Grateful for What You Have

                          Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

                          Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

                          “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

                          3. Smile

                          Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

                          Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

                          Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

                          Can you smile again?

                          4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

                          Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

                          If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

                          This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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                          Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

                          5. Exercise Daily

                          One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

                          Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

                          ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

                          He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

                          6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

                          Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

                          Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

                          So how do you manage your time effectively?

                          Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

                          “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

                          And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

                          • Monday – Management
                          • Tuesdays – Product
                          • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
                          • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
                          • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
                          • Saturdays – Taking off
                          • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

                          No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

                          7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

                          Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

                          Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

                          Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

                          “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

                          Be intentional about your daily goals!

                          8. Seek Inspiration

                          It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

                          A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

                          Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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                          Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

                          “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

                          9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

                          I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

                          However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

                          10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

                          Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

                          “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

                          It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

                          Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

                          More About Habits

                          Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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                          Reference

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