Biomimetic file 195: The Great Migrations

How Mobility and Flexibility will Define Future Leading Businesses

2209582828_123c913f37_oImage Source: BirdLife International

Highlight: “Nowadays, stress has become an integral part of our day-to-day life and hence everyone of us has to face it in one way or another. The stress is created by various factors known as stressors… They may be, environmental, physiological, social or cognitive…A critical study of the behaviors of some long-migrating birds provides some basic principles involved in the successful management of stress… Researchers have identified the basic principles as: 1. Principle of avoidance, 2. Principle of adaptation and 3. Principle of acceptance…”

Insight: Many species live a nomadic lifestyle constantly adapting to changing environments and moving with resources availability. In a similar way, businesses will increasingly be required to be mobile and adaptable in order to keep-up with the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the global economic landscape.

The traditional business settings which have prevailed most of the 20th century are becoming obsolete. That is the type of businesses with well established and preset employee behaviors as well as expensive fixed facilities and office spaces. Instead, the new leaders are quickly arising as enterprises with a mobile workforce and open mindset on employees geography and work arrangements.

There are many roles out there (especially anything to do with some type of consulting) which only require employees to hold a laptop computer and be constantly on the move and available. After all we live in the era of long distance communications where many new options have become possible and efficient. All is required is strong self discipline and trust between employers and employees.

A simple yet robust framework can be set:

  1. Set up a client work plan involving clear deliverables and deadlines;
  2. Always submit work on time and within the expected standards (or else be subject to disciplinary actions: a) a verbal warning, b) a written warning c) dismissal from the company);
  3. Make yourself available for face to face meetings when required and given a reasonable notice;
  4. Keep people you need in the loop (e.g. your employer/clients) on communications such as email exchanges ;
  5. all others, up to you and following a “that is not my problem” mindset, whether you do the work in your bathtub , at the beach, at a cafe or from home, as long as rule 2 is stringently met…

Too many companies (including large corporations) have gotten their priorities wrong still strongly stuck with hold fashion concepts such as the belief that staying in an office from 8am to 6pm daily is synonymous with productivity (this is especially apparent in Asia) ! A number of successful startups are already applying “new age”  frameworks but few if any have really applied the concept to its full potential. An obvious limitation is that many people still require the comfort of an office or are in desperate need of social interactions; so offering a choice to talented employees between a small smart office setting or a fully flexible work plan is still advised.

Are you planning to set up a business? If so perhaps consider a next generation business model described above, you may be surprised of the outcome. However in the end, regardless of new or old business model, success comes down to the trust (it can only be confirmed with time) you put in the people you hire and their ability to deliver; make smart choices…

On a last note BlueStrike wishes all its followers a merry Christmas and a happy new year 2017!

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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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Biomimetic file 194:Gauss Curves

How an understanding of Gaussian distribution can benefit business strategies

main-qimg-2fe1a237ae44004c798bc4c004793c8d-c

Picture: a typical normal distribution: A normal distribution is an arrangement of a data set in which most values cluster in the middle of the range and the rest taper off symmetrically toward either extreme.

Highlight: “Researchers have recently taken visual solutions present in nature to incorporate them in a computer algorithm that radically improves the quality of sequences collected in dim light…This was made possible by studying nocturnal insects which are uniquely adapted to a life in dim light..these adaptations were discovered by recording the responses of photo-receptors to Gaussian-distributed white noise light stimuli in nocturnal insects…”

Insight: In nature many systems follow Gaussian distributions. It is one of the best mathematical representations (along perhaps with exponential growth) to describe the behaviors of natural systems. Factors such as populations dynamics, follow such patterns.

Gaussian distributions go beyond natural systems and are also a good assumption to many phenomenons which involve large amounts of data. In business for instance, the behavior of consumers towards a particular product or marketing campaigns outcomes would typically follow Gaussian distributions.

While there are many statistical tools that can be used to make assumptions with various degrees of certitude, keeping in mind the easy to visualize bell shaped curve can really help to forge robust business strategies through realistic risk management in anticipation of failure rates.

Basically what it hints is that in an outcome involving large numbers, the  majority would be spread around the mean while a narrow few would go towards the extremes which in this case would be defined as failure or success; In other words the probability of a very successful/unsuccessful outcome will be small while average outcomes would be largely predominant…

Are you working on a plan that involves large numbers? If so perhaps verify if the distribution would be favorable for Gaussian outcomes (there are statistical tools to help making this assumption) and anticipate accordingly. Keeping in mind the Gaussian distribution, one success strategy is to aim for the largest possible numbers (e.g potential customers) in order to maximize the chances of successful outcomes…

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 193: Leapfrogging

How innovation increments management is crucial to keeping a competitive edge

0ce4fd4d779cadcb75369a350b538d20Image source: pinterest.com

Highlight: “To improve the maneuverability and agility of jumping robots, several researchers have studied steerable jumping mechanisms…This steering ability enables robots to reach a particular target by controlling their jumping direction… The key design principles were adopted from the frog-hopper’s power-producing hind legs and the moment cancellation accomplished by synchronized leg operation…”

Insight: Frogs are known for their ability to move by making significant jumps. Unlike many species which would use a more energy saving linear type of motion, frogs focus their energy on a few but distance covering moves to secure their escape from preys.

This type of leaping motion is inspirational and can be applied to business innovation strategies. Indeed, the need to innovate is a constant battle for corporations that need to keep themselves ahead of the competition. There are three possible options: to make regular small improvements to their existing products (the most commonly seen), to make very significant improvements (or even provide a completely new approach) but at less regular intervals or sometimes a mix of the two.

The reality is that true innovations can only come from significant leapfrogging improvements which in terms push others to top-up their games. Game changers are less common and industrial wars through practices such as reverse engineering are all too common leading to the small increments (low innovation) model that we observe in the market place.

Are you planning to release an upgrade? If so, perhaps think of your strategic objective; if the idea is only to keep yourself competitive and follow the flow, than choose the small increments strategy. However, if you intend to be a game changer go towards the leapfrogging alternative. Noteworthy is that revolutionary improvements are also associated with a significantly higher risk factor as they will disrupt and possibly confuse the consumers as opposed to the much safer small increments strategy which appeals to an already convinced customer pool…

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 192: Anger Management

How containing frustration is key to ones business integrity

octopus-inkImage source: creative commons

Highlight: “Octopuses are widely admired for their intelligence, their skill as escape artists, and their extraordinary ability to camouflage themselves…Materials scientists are also taken by the adhesive properties of their tentacles. By controlling the pressure in their suckers, the Cephalopods can rapidly grab onto and then release themselves from just about any surface they come across as they make their way along the ocean floor…researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea have made octopus-inspired adhesives…the adhesives can be used in the transfer printing of nanomaterials to make flexible electronics and compound-semiconductor devices on silicon…”

Insight: The common octopus when in sense of danger has a rather drastic reaction, it releases an ink like substance that allows it to escape quickly while temporarily blinding its surrounding occupants. On the other end other octopus species adopt a very different strategy by mimicking (skin colors/patterns and behaviors) their environment in order to blend in…

These two very different cases of stress adaptations within the Cephalopods provide inspiration to yet another key business philosophy. While we all once in a while face situations where we feel like a quick escape, in business that is rarely a good idea. Indeed, containing ones frustrations is a key asset that will allow to overcome most situations. As a matter of fact in the business world frustrations and challenges are omnipresent and learning to contain and hide negative emotions can only be beneficial in the short and long term. Blending, in order to  escape smoothly, is a rather good strategy even if it means to temporarily accept situations that go against ones beliefs…

Are you facing difficulties at work and feel frustrated to the point of “slapping the door” ? If so perhaps adopt the strategy of a mimic octopus rather than that of a short tempered ink escapee!

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

 

 

Biomimetic file 191: the art of attraction

How familiarity and likeness are key attributes to business marketing strategies

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Image source: Scienceline

Highlight: “Carnivorous plants, among them tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.), have always fascinated people due to their remarkable ability to attract and feed on animals…these plants are now used as model systems for various biomimetic applications…a current cooperative project between the Zoological Institute at the Kiel University and the Institute of Chemistry of New Materials at the University of Osnabrueck aims at the development of hierarchical anti-adhesive materials by mimicking the slippery zone in N. alata pitchers…”

Insight: An interesting aspect of carnivorous plants is their remarkable ability to attract animal prays despite their obvious disadvantage of being mostly static as opposed to their highly mobile prays. It appears that one key strategy besides having developed various ingenious physiological traps is the art to attract prays in the first place. For instance certain species make use of sugary solutions to attract such substance loving insects…

These species adaptations offer an inspiration for business marketing strategies. Indeed, in order to attract customers a proven successful strategy is to develop products that have an obvious similarity (or clearly assimilates) to something which people are already known to like and be familiar with. As a matter of fact the reference to specific species or wildlife traits is omnipresent in products marketing and branding campaigns such as various luxury car brands built on fast and powerful animals…

Are you planning to launch a new product? If so perhaps ensuring that it reflects obvious similarities to something that people straight away recognize and like could give a significant hedge over the competition. It appears to be basic customer psychology that in order to attract one must first inspire confidence and likeness; products that are “too innovative” and drive a sense of confusion rarely succeed…

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

 

Biomimetic file 190: Polarized vision

How the way we perceive the world can drastically influence our decisions

634bc15a53c38c3d7807e548390c3b44Image source:  Electron microscopic view of the eye of a fly; pinterest.com

Highlight: “Many organisms have photosensitive sensors which enable them to respond to various light phenomenons…while most insects are sensitive to a particular occurrence of polarization, most primates are not…a team of researchers have gained inspiration from studying these natural sensors to develop a range of simple instruments that make possible to reveal what was previously hidden…”

Insight: Species in the animal kingdom perceive the world very differently than we do. Indeed, almost all the spectrum of light radiations is represented and species have developed very specialized eyes or other reception organs in order to perceive the world in the most favorable way possible (mostly for hunting prays and avoidance).

As a matter of fact our vision of the world is rather restricted since we only have access to a small part of the spectrum in the visible light range. Gaining access to other parts of the spectrum such as the UV, Infrared or Microwaves can reveal very different and useful aspects of the world that surround us; think of the tremendous progresses which have been made in fields such as astronomy or medicine…

em_spectrum

Image: Spectrum of light. The visible light range to which we humans have access is only a very small portion of it…

An applied business point to make here is that most people only see the outside of corporations, what they want you to see. But digging further and looking at them with a “different eye” starts to reveal the true colors of enterprises. Aspects such as their operations, their impacts on the world and society, the way they deal with their finances, all these and more tell a lot about a company and most importantly its fitness in the current and future business landscape.

Do you intend to invest in a business or perhaps just buy a stock? If so perhaps remember to look at it with various pairs of eyes…

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 189: Lifeline Reserves

How being financially prepared can be crucial to businesses in times of need

honey-pot-ants
Image source: Honeypot ant, strangeanimals.info

Highlight: “Many insects, notably honey bees and some wasps, collect and store liquid food for use at a later date. However, these insects store their food within their nest or in combs… Honey ants are unique in using their own bodies as living storage, used later by their fellow ants when food is otherwise scarce… When the liquid stored inside a honeypot ant is needed, the worker ants stroke the antennae of the honeypot ant, causing the honeypot ant to regurgitate the stored liquid from its crop…”

Insight: While it is common sense that businesses should put money on the side for times of difficulties (like individuals should), the preparation is often obviously not enough.  Indeed, it has become almost common practice, especially for large corporations, to deal with financial difficulties in the easiest way possible: through moderate and sometimes massive manpower cuts. This practice is commonly simply the result of failure to anticipate business slowdowns which are in fact inevitable.

While it is sometimes indeed inevitable to lay people off in order to keep the business afloat, the practice is exaggerated and often unjustified. A common excuse sounds something like: “we are worth billions in assets but we don’t have enough cash flow right now to pay salaries!”. What businesses should do instead is perhaps to set aside special accounts with high interest rates to prepare specifically  for times of economic slow down; that is readily available cash money on the side (not only assets such as properties that take time to liquidate).

With such simple measure in place it becomes much easier to absorb economic difficulties while maintaining the workforce through a financial storm which usually only last a matter of months. Also worth highlighting is the fact that the damages resulting from manpower losses verses financial savings gained from manpower cuts is often underestimated as corporations often struggle to recover and need to reinvest heavily in hiring and training of new staff; not to forget the damages induced to the brand.

Do you fear for your workforce future? If so perhaps consider setting up special manpower bumper accounts as a lifeline for the workforce…

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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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 188: Dormant Processes

How seemingly useless initiatives can be dormant powerful assets

genes-759x415Picture source: University of Washington

Highlight:“Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have used a world-first technique to change a single letter of DNA in human red blood cells, triggering them to produce more oxygen-carrying haemoglobin…The technique could lead to new treatments for sickle cell anaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders…it has been done through an innovative process that activates a naturally occurring gene that’s normally dormant after birth…”

Insight: A large part of the genetic code is apparently useless! At least this is the conclusion that some geneticists come up with considering the fact that most of the genome does not code for anything we have been able to identify yet (e.g. morphological traits, immune response…). The most serious hypothesis on the matter suggest that nothing is in fact useless but that a large part of our DNA is composed of so called dormant genes which would only come into action at a certain point in our lifetime, for emergencies or for very specific tasks that may never come to use…

This concept is rather interesting and inspiring when applied to the business world. Indeed, in war as in business, the best strategists have always been the ones who think out of the box and seemingly do things that don’t make any sense to most until it actually turns out to be a winning formula.

Similar oddities can also be seen in modern business mega-trends, such as some corporate sustainability practices, which raise many questions on whether they are useful at all to a business considering that they may not have clear positive returns. The point to make here is that if everything in a business has a clear purpose as intended by some, than perhaps this entity is not suited enough to anticipate rapid changes that could differ drastically from the norm. Indeed, besides key business objectives, there should always be dormant processes which may become a lifeline in times of need (this is especially true for large organizations).

Anticipation through dormant processes is in fact the best back-up plan a business can have. Considering regular business failures materialized by massive manpower cuts as an easy response, it is obvious that  many businesses do not have adequate dormant processes to cope with change…

Have you ever come across business practices which don’t seem to make any sense? If so beware of jumping to conclusions as in due time you may simply regret not to have done the same…

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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…

bluestrike logo

http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 187: Dance of the Honeybee

How communications are crucially important to business health

shutterstock_109065071-cutImage source: emperion.net

Highlight: “The honeybee dance communication system is one of the most intriguing examples of information transfer in the animal kingdom…After returning from a valuable food source honeybee foragers move vigorously, in a highly stereotypical pattern, on the comb surface conveying polar coordinates of the field site…After 60 years of intense research it remains still unknown how the bees decode the dance… To resolve this question a team of researchers have built a robotic honeybee that is able to reproduce all stimuli found to be generated in the dance… By imitating single stimuli or combinations and tracking the bees’ ensuing behavior they were able to identify essential signals in the communication process…”

Insight: What social insects can teach us is that body language and patterns can be greatly effective at communicating even complex issues but that both parties need to clearly understand the language rules.

Miss-communications in business is common and responsible for tremendous income losses through mistakes and resulting poor performance. These miscommunications range from language barriers to inter-department jargon (e.g. engineers communicating with accountants), sign languages misunderstandings or simply overall poor language skills…

Some sectors are rather stringent about their communications skills: for instance an airplane pilot misunderstanding the ground staff is not an option (and vise versa) as is a columnist journalist misspelling some words. However, this is not always the norm and many companies do not put as much emphasis as they should on their employees’ communication skills (even for staff holding key positions) which reflects rather poorly on their performance as a business entity.

Are you planning to hire? Than perhaps do not omit to investigate communication skills. In today’s interconnected world the ability to communicate effectively is definitely one of the most important skills one can have.

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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…

bluestrike logo

http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

 

 

 

Biomimetic file 186: Tubular Micro-motors, Spermbots

How To Manage The Uncontrollable

5698bf44c36188fe038b45d6Image source: American Chemistry Society

Highlight:“Recently, a new generation of tubular micro-motors was invented by harnessing motile spermatozoa as propulsion force for rolled-up micro-tubes (Spermbots)…motile bovine spermatozoa are trapped inside 50-μm-long micro-tubes that have a diameter that is slightly larger than the head of the sperm cell…The flagellum serves as driving force that propels the micro-tube forward…Since the micro-tube consists of iron nano-membranes, it can be steered externally by magnetic fields…”

Insight: The organized processes that surround uncontrollable randomness in the reproductive cycle are an inspirational business philosophy:

As in life processes, there are areas of businesses operations which are controllable and others which are simply not. Indeed, there is a difference between complex and chaotic in that the latest is uncontrollable. Some typical uncontrollable aspects affecting businesses would include the global economy fluctuations, weather related events, strikes, road traffic, various accidents, natural hazards, terrorism…

Yet being uncontrollable in itself does not mean that it cannot be managed. The only way to manage the uncontrollable is to accept in the first place the fact that certain things are simply beyond influence. Businesses which ignore uncontrollable parameters without adequate planning integration put themselves in danger because these aspects are associated with significantly greater risks…

By accepting this very fact, a business can more effectively focus on other controllable aspects but also work towards building risk management procedures surrounding the uncontrollable. In other words the trick is to treat the uncontrollable as a risk in order to apply risk management procedures that are to be incorporated in an overall management strategy.

It sounds simple but it is actually quite tricky and many corporations simply haven’t gained a clear map of where their uncontrollable aspects are. Do you have control?

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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…

bluestrike logo

http://www.bluestrike-group.com/