Biomimetic file 211: Relativity

How our position in relation to a business affects our views of it

relativityAlbert Einstein’s general theory of relativity* is one of the towering achievements of 20th-century physics. Published in 1916, it explains that what we perceive as the force of gravity in fact arises from the curvature of space and time…

Highlight: “Quantum biomimetics consists of reproducing in quantum systems certain properties exclusive to living organisms…. Researchers at University of the Basque Country have imitated natural selection, learning and memory in a new study. The mechanisms developed could give quantum computation a boost and facilitate the learning process in machines…”

Insight: Relativity is actually an interesting inspiration for business. Indeed, where we stand: whether we are a potential customer of business services or products, a shareholder, a stakeholder, an employee or an executive of a given company would alter how we perceive that particular business.

Often people may like using a specific product which improves their lives and makes them happy but they do not know or do not which to know how this product is actually made. In certain cases knowing the latest would certainly alter if not reverse the perception that people have had of that product. Some obvious examples would include many food related items (e.g. processed meat) or electronics (e.g. the human sacrifices in production chains)…

Another point to make is that people who work within an organisation have a different perception than the general opinions perceived by the external stakeholders (which can be better or worst). Typical cases would include companies which are portrayed as “best places to work” and which in term may not necessarily turn out to be true once experienced from the inside (note worthy is that often such statements are true in a specific location such as the corporate headquarters but not necessarily the case in overseas offices which often struggle to replicate the culture and standards) or vice versa companies which may have been portrayed as “evil” by the stakeholders but which are actually decent places to work. All in all perceptions are relative and clichés should be taken cautiously and left to personal judgement…

Lets illustrate the above point with the following case study: George, a teenager, has been a big fan of his mobile phone brand for many years. One day his school organises a competition to which the winner would get to go overseas visit the actual manufacturing site, all costs paid by the company. Very exited at the prospect of visiting his favourite mobile brand’s facilities, this student studies extra hard and ends up winning the challenge. Soon after he travels to China and gets a warm welcome and several guided visits of the facilities. At first everything is as he expected: huge scale productions, state of the art engineering, modern facilities; George is really impressed and he even gets to make friend with one of the production line manager, Chen, during his lunch brake. Before his departure Chen invites George to have dinner with his family in a nearby modest suburb. After a friendly meal, he starts to tell George a different side of the story: that many members of his family who have worked in this company have perished of lung cancer because they have long been asked to handle heavy metals without adequate protections; that employees live in desperate conditions and are barely paid the minimum wage. He even tells that not so long ago the company employed many under-aged children in its production lines but were recently forced to comply due to law reinforcements in the country. He tells George that people in his country enjoy the products they make but that none of the products are intended for them; he caries on explaining that people simply do not know the truth about the poor management of this company when it comes to its workforce. Greatly saddened by what he has heard, George returns home and starts telling his entourage of his experience and Chen, he tells them that if he had not met Chen he would have remained uninformed and would continue to praise this company. Since then, George has stopped using this brand and has convinced many others to do so too…

Do you have an opinion about a product or a company that you have gained from  common perceptions? If so, perhaps take a step back and dig a bit more, this may alter your perception either positively or negatively…

More information here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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