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Geckos, termite mounds and organizations

Nature is full of ideas for the attuned innovator – and for the attuned leader.

The growing field of biomimicry has some great examples of nature-driven innovation: non-toxic adhesives inspired by geckos, energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds and resistance-free antibiotics inspired by red seaweed.

The Biomimicry Institute defines biomimicry as: “the science and art of emulating Nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems.” I came across something written by the Institute’s president that made me realize nature also offers some good insights into solving organizational issues.  Here’s what she (Janine Benyus) calls the “Nine Laws of Nature”:

Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only energy it needs.
Nature fits form to function.
Nature recycles everything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excess from within.
Nature taps the power of limits.

Think about some of the evolving traits of great organizations.  They’re efficient and well-designed, close to and insightful about their markets, and increasingly are energizing and transparent, attentive to ethical and social values, diverse points of view and teamwork. 

I’m not sure geckos and termite mounds offer the best organizational lessons, but it’s promising that I learned about this where I did: at a presentation at Case’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Do you see corollaries from nature in your organization?

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