What if models for new revenue streams or cost-cutting measures were sitting right in front of you waiting for you to be able to see them? According to nature writer Janine Benyus, answers are all around us ... we just need to look to nature for models.
If you attend "Unlocking Innovation," the eleventh annual Convergence of people, ideas and great practices related to innovation, you will hear Janine, who coined the term "biomimicry" and wrote the book of the same title, tell you exactly how this new way of looking at nature is helping people solve important problems.
In an interview for "Interiors & Sources" magazine, author Penny Bonda states, "She's (Benyus) brought biologists, industrialists, inventors and designers together at the drawing board ... and convinced commercial giants to alter the way they look at product development and manufacturing."
A self-described "nature-nerd," Benyus suggests that we focus on new questions such as ...
-- How does life make things?
-- How does life make the most of things?
-- How does like make things disappear into systems?
Biomimicry example: Traditional hearing aids do not do a very good job of detecting the direction of sounds, thus handicapping their users. Biomimicry suggests that a solution to this conundrum would be found in nature by studying organisms that depend on sound direction for their survival, such as the ormia fly that feeds off crickets and needs to locate them by their sounds. An analysis of the fly's hearing mechanisms became the basis for a whole new kind of hearing aid.
From biomimicry.net: "Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new science that studies nature's best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example. I think of it as "innovation inspired by nature."
"The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. This is the real news of biomimicry: After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.
"Like the viceroy butterfly imitating the monarch, we humans are imitating the best and brightest organisms in our habitat. We are learning, for instance, how to harness energy like a leaf, grow food like a prairie, build ceramics like an abalone, self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest.
"The conscious emulation of life's genius is a survival strategy for the human race, a path to a sustainable future. The more our world looks and functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone." For more info: http://www.biomimicry.net/