You may be familiar with biomimicry in the creation of products; like certain swimsuits designed to mimic sharkskin to optimize hydrodynamics, or tablet screens that mimic the sheen of butterfly wings for better readability. Books like Cradle to Cradle have spawned movements that encourage us to design products which mimic plants and animals, not only reducing carbon pollution but actively working within the environment.
If we can gain technological insights from nature, might we also improve our businesses through organizational biomimicry? Well, this is the idea behind one example, TheNatureofBusiness.org.
In his books and on his blog, Giles Hutches presents insights gleaned from nature. Insights which can benefit entrepreneurs, managers, and seasoned business owners.
Today, I’d like to share some of Hutches’ thoughts about “Natural Leadership”.
“We see ourselves as separate “I’s”, self-absorbed units struggling for survival in a dog-eat-dog world. This logic projects a worldview now ingrained in our educational systems, managerial mind-sets and methods of leading, so much so that many of us believe it to be ‘just the way life is’. Why question this logic when, after all, it’s the ‘logic of life’? Or is it?”
While many of us have been taught to perceive business as a Machiavellian endeavor dependent upon competition and control… It’s important to realize that collaboration, reciprocity, and symbiosis are far more common modes of operation in natural systems.
With his models, Hutchens demonstrates the resilience of systems which are enabled to self-organize within seemingly “chaotic” conditions.
While it’s common to describe chaos as a terrifying state of being, it’s more fitting to shift away from the fear of chaos, instead appreciating “chaos” as decentralization and emergence-- the conditions which make life possible are also the ideal conditions for business. It’s simply a matter of shifting operational perspectives in a way which makes chaos beneficial. In other words: “How might you organize your business to be more ‘anti-fragile'?"
Have you asked questions like this before, or know someone who has? Do you think you have some answers? Imagine the value in a system capable of successfully relaying that information to small business owners and other "self-starters" in need of guidance. Well, there's a challenge for that, and it's called Patterns for Success. If you think you have the answers, you might be sitting on $25,000 -- because that's the prize amount for a winning curriculum design. There's not a lot of time left, though, so you might want to hurry it up. The Challenge is set to close on July 13th!