by Kate Brodock on 10 October 2007

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Biomimicry is the concept that nature is a design genius, and humans should emulate these designs on a conscious level. The most obvious place this can be seen is in product innovations. Think velcro (from the hooked ends of those obnoxious burrs that always used to get stuck in the tails of my horses and took forever to get out) or the bottom of cross country skis (scaley animals).

I recently got in an interesting discussion about applying natures processes to the area of business. This is a fairly recent idea in terms of popularity, but has certainly been delved into for several years. How much can we learn from it? Can it be applied to specific industries or job functions, like marketing or construction?

There’s an interesting thing about nature that makes me say we can learn a heck of a lot from it and that yes, it probably, in some way or another, can be applied to almost anything. It’s that there is a reason for literally everything in nature. Nature has gone through evolution after extinction after era after millenium after… you get the point. It has been so finely tuned that it’s adaptation rate exceeds that of human beings by an order of magnitude. Nature knows what it’s doing for the most part, and this applies to extinction, disasters and dealing with the human footprint.

But what’s most helpful? Is it just product development we can apply it to? What about communities? Or businesses from an internal aspect? Or advertising? All of these have a large element of intangibility to them. In my thinking, I found that the use of “nature analogies” was very interesting.

Think of tree bark. Part of the purpose of tree bark is nutrient transport. But there is another part that’s used for protection and absorption of external hazards such as pollution. Or the colors of a butterfly, used to signify competitiveness, survival, or showiness. Or maybe the root system of a grove of trees. If one tree is unhealthy, or isn’t getting enough water, the surrounding trees will transfer water and nutrients to the unhealthy one to benefit the group.

Just throwing those things out there. But it’s a field worth exploring for new ideas on just about anything.

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