# Biomimetic file 209: Complexity in Simplicity

## Why seemingly simple aspects can in fact be extremely complex and how to handle such situations

Image: creative commons. In number theory, Fermat’s Last Theorem* (sometimes called Fermat’s conjecture) states that no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. The cases n = 1 and n = 2 have been known to have infinitely many solutions since antiquity.

Highlight: “Fish exhibit extremely high propulsive efficiency and excellent maneuverability. Designers are looking to exploit these traits by mimicking fish motion. A prototype robotic fish has been developed at The University of Auckland modeled on the carangiform mode of swimming…the algorithms involved in such motion control are complex as they have to deal with highly dynamic systems…”

Insight: Fermat’s last theorem appears at first sight to be simple especially compared with far more complex equations commonly used in mathematics or physics. Yet, this seemingly simple expression has for long been considered one of mathematics most complex problems. As matter of fact, the first successful proof was only released in 1994 by Andrew Wiles, and formally published in 1995, after 358 years of effort by mathematicians!

Often businesses are faced with similar situations where the complexity of a situation is underestimated. Underestimating a problem can have severe consequences for different reasons such as logistics, safety or budgeting.

For instance lets illustrate this point with the following situation: an airplane manufacturer is about to release a larger than usual aircraft to the mass market. After over ten years of intense preparations, complex problems solving and state of the art engineering the product is finally ready and the entire team is finalizing basic logistics. During one of the meetings the procedure of bringing some parts manufactured in other locations to the main assembly site is raised: the main fuselage, which is rather large comes in one single piece and is too big to fit in specialized planes normally used for the transport of smaller fuselage parts. Because of this, the only way to bring in the fuselage is by road or train. The team manager, not seeming too worry about it, asks the simple question of whether the dimensions of the fuselage would allow to bring it by road. After some detail analysis the answer comes out as a yes but with extremely tight error margins at some points which raises concerns from various members of the team. The manager more worried of having to announce further delays to the direction takes it as feasible and as a minor problem. After the first orders start to come in, the process of assembly starts and the fuselage is brought in as planned by road; this is when the realization that the problem was not so simple starts to kick-in through a range of unforeseen issues:

• At some stages the fuselage must pass trough a small village and the margin or error (the distance between the fuselage and road side buildings) in turns is less than 10cm! A few safety misses occur and any bump to the fuselage would have serious repercussions as detailed inspections for safety would be required. To prevent this from happening a team of experts must also supervise the operations at all time which is rather costly;
• Due to the size and sensitivity of the delivery the entire stretch of road must be closed to traffic and therefore can only be done late at night as it is a national road. Villagers complain of noise issues and other disturbances;
• The road is not meant to carry such a weight and shortly after these operations begin, the pavement starts to crack which requires maintenance. The department authorities complain that they shouldn’t be the ones paying for the repair costs;
• It takes longer to deliver due to the complexity of the process which requires to operate at very low speeds;
• and many other issues which add on…

In the end the mounting problems force the company to finance the construction of a specially designed road to go around the village, that’s over 6 miles of road. The cost of this “little problem” ends up amounting to USD 450 millions!

Are you faced with certain obstacles going forward? If so, perhaps take the time to properly estimate the complexity of these problems as failure to do so could have serious and costly consequences on your project…

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 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…

www.bluestrike-group.com

# Biomimetic file 207: Wave Soup

## Why dispersion is sometimes a better alternative than concentration

Image: creative commons. Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay or radioactivity*) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy (in terms of mass in its rest frame) by emitting radiation, such as an alpha particle, beta particle with neutrino or only a neutrino in the case of electron capture, gamma ray, or electron …

Highlight: “In the recent years, wireless personal communications have registered a rapid expansion particularly in the field of wireless local area networks (WLANs)…Although this framework has given numerous advantages to people, the steady increased use of these new technologies may result in greater radio-frequency exposures in homes and work places…meanwhile, the property of iron atoms contained in species red blood cells to be magnetized when exposed to an electromagnetic field has been the subject of studies in order to better understand the relationship and how this may be used to improve human safety when exposed to WLANs…”

Insight: Recently I was having a casual coffee with a friend when he asked me the following question: “sometimes when I go to crowded places in modern cities I feel unease; do you think this could be due to the concentration of electromagnetic radiations from mobile phones?” While I am used to people throwing weird questions at me, this one got me thinking and I investigated further:

Electromagnetic radiations from mobile devices are far from being uniform, as a matter of fact the intensity of the radiations will reach peaks at specific times and otherwise will be quite small. For instance in the second or so before your phone rings the magnetic wave will be at its peak and it will drop sharply shortly after. Same occurs when information is sent from the device. I find the question interesting as it raises the challenge of several verses individual uses. The below points hint some elements of answers:

1. Often products are tested for individual use but rarely for scenarios involving several devices used simultaneously and in proximity;
2.  It is very difficult if not impossible to test a product for its long-term (e.g. latent toxicity) effects and since mobile phones have only been in use for 20 years or so that makes all of us some kind of “Guinea Pigs”;
3. Many happening in the human body occur at a very small scale (e.g. cellular functions) and it would be surprising that the intensity of radiations emitted from mobile devices do not interact at some level and to some extent. Some claim that the range of commercial devices radiations simply do not interact with human tissues: if so, how to explain that when you hold your phone next to your ear for a short time you would definitely literally feel the heat?

Besides mobile phone, we live in a society where we are increasingly constantly bombarded with various types of waves (electromagnetic, micro waves, hertzian waves, UV, IR…) immersing us in a “wave soup”. While only time will reveal potential impacts on health, sharp increase in chronic diseases such as certain types of cancers is an indication. It would be very difficult to pinpoint a single cause as there are many other culprits which probably add on (e.g. the food we eat, air quality…).

This case actually reminds me another one I came across a few years back while in Australia. In this country the use of  fire safety alarms is quite spread and a stringent requirement for public facilities. When disposed the alarms were just treated as a common waste and ended up in land fields. At some point, a new regulation came up stating that fire alarms should be considered as an hazardous waste considering the fact that they contain radioactive* components (in small amounts). Thereafter, the fire alarms were collected and commonly disposed in a separate land field. However, a funny outcome happened: while individually the radioactivity from the devices was mild, put together all these fire alarms started to pose a very serious radiation problem which would require expensive secured facilities to contain…After this inconvenient realization, an update to the regulation made a U-turn and went back to the original setup of treating fire alarms as a normal waste so that the radioactive waste would be diluted among others and would not cause a radiation concern. Quite a funny story highlighting many failures in the regulatory process!

Are you producing or find yourselves surrounded by devises/processes in unusually large quantities? If so, perhaps ask yourself how does this combined concentrated environment affect safety and remember that such tests are rarely conducted by authorities which does not mean it should not be a concern…

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 206: Impossible Logic

## How reasoning on impossible assumptions can be a powerful rule of thought

Image: Creative commons. An imaginary number* is a complex number that can be written as a real number multiplied by the imaginary unit i, which is defined by its property i2 = −1. The square of an imaginary number bi is −b2. For example, 5i is an imaginary number, and its square is −25.

Highlight: “Microelectronic devices are currently fabricated by using processes that are intrinsically two-dimensional, and the inter-connectivity required in complex systems is achieved by stacking and connecting planar layers of circuits…on the other hand biological structures arise by constrained self-assembly, and are usually three-dimensional (3D)…a new research demonstrates that biomimetic principles of design and self-organization can be applied to generate multifunctional electronic systems of complex, three-dimensional architecture…”

Insight: An important field of mathematics deals with so called imaginary numbers* with practical applications in areas such as microelectronics; as a matter of fact most of our modern devices (e.g. mobile phones) exist because of these algorithms. This field makes outrageous assumptions which defies the fundamental rules of mathematics: assuming that the square root of a number can be a negative entity. Yet, by setting accurate reasoning on this single impossible outcome, an entire field of mathematics was developed and the outcomes of the predictions are undoubtedly correct to the point of being the basis of modern electronics!

What this field of mathematics clearly demonstrates is that it is possible to come up with accurate outcomes even based on inaccurate assumptions. The key is to know (and keep track) that the assumption is incorrect but that the logic surrounding it is correct. It is a very powerful trick to reveal hidden outcomes which would otherwise remain invisible by applying conventional logic.

This mindset can be applied to business: sometimes businesses have to deal with complex happenings that don’t seem to have any apparent solutions.  Yet, looking at problems from another perspective and anticipating changes to come based on impossible assumptions can help to forge strong strategies.

For instance lets imagine the following scenario: an insurance & financial advisory company is about to launch their new offering for retirement. Like it is common practice before the launch of a new insurance package, they develop a computer model which simulates various scenarios based on in-house algorithms developed by their analytical mathematicians. One of the tests involves running a range of impossible outcomes and in this particular case one of these assumptions is that everyone in the United States lives up to 100 years hold (obviously impossible). While running this assumption into the model an unusual behavior is noticed in the algorithm and quickly rectified. Once fixed they continue to run the models based on realistic life expectancy assumptions based on real life data and the product is soon after launched. The point here is that without this impossible assumption the error would not have been noticed as the odd outcome remained too small to be seen under normal realistic assumptions…

Are you stuck with a complex problem that does not seem to have any solution? If so, perhaps try the above approach by projecting outcomes based on false assumptions; you may be surprised with the outcomes…

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 205: Rise of the Machines

## Why business automation is both an opportunity and a risk

*Cybernetics is a trans-disciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.”

Highlight:The evolution of the paradigm of modern biomechatronics and robotics can be seen in two main directions, standing as two extremities of a range of future biomechatronics systems: increasing the performance and miniaturization of the hardware platform and increasing the intelligence of the integrated system. Regarding the first direction, the current challenge is to develop sophisticated machines with a higher level of miniaturization and performance, as they can be inspired by insects…a recent paper highlight the current state of achievements in the merging fields of biomimetics and cybernetics*…”

Insight: There are functions in living organisms for which we are conscious and have control over, and others we have no knowledge and little or no control. Examples would include digestive systems, respiratory reflects and inner body vital functions in general. In a way many of these processes are on “auto-mode” like a fine tuned machine. Similarly in business there are functions which we do ourselves consciously and a few processes which have become assisted by machines. However, while to date the assistance has been mild all this is about to change fast.

The hard truth is that the vast majority of jobs out there can, now or soon, be replaced by machines. These do not only include labor intensive blue-collar jobs which require repetitive tasks but increasingly even tasks which have been considered very skilled such as head-hunting, trading or even various medical professions which are progressively threatened of being outperformed by newly developed “smart” systems and algorithms backed by rapidly increasing computer processing power. To put things into perspective the below graphic highlights clearly the trend of the development of artificial intelligence:

Source: Journal of evolution and technology. At the current rate of increase we are only decades away from computer processing power outperforming the human brain.

It is obvious that the main reasons for corporations to embark on automation are to reduce manpower costs and to boost productivity which in an increasingly unsecured global economic landscape makes a lot of business sense. Replacement of people with machines removes instantly a range of human related burdens for businesses such as poor productivity, various leaves, strikes, accidents…In fact the benefits seem too good to be true. For instance in some cases, like in manufacturing chains, the productivity can be increased by a factor of 100 or more…

Optimists on the issue often refer to a transition period which will be followed by stabilization. They claim that many jobs will be lost (perhaps underestimated) but that the replacements by machines will create many new roles. There is no doubt about this but perhaps the real question to be asked is how many? If one machine can replace 100 jobs but that only a few technicians/engineers may be required to maintain and monitor that machine, all in all it seems completely out of balance…

The very thought of massive jobs loss globally from automation alone (there are other factors which will add-on to these losses) raises very serious societal and ethical questions. If governments allow corporations to take on this path, what is the replacement solution? Are governments ready to pay people to do nothing through a minimal wage system?

It seems that overall large scale automation would be greatly beneficial to businesses but extremely harmful to societies, at least in the current political and economic settings. Like many other mega trends unfolding it is obvious that no one or entities really seem to have a clear solution and that the mind-set is a “wait and see” approach, which is not really pragmatic…

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 204: Feedbacks

## Why the implementation of feedback loops is important to manage project risks

Image NASA. “Anthropic response as a positive feedback to the global change phenomenon is one to worry about” …Feedback*: in biology, a response within a system (molecule, cell, organism, or population) that influences the continued activity or productivity of that system. In essence, it is the control of a biological reaction by the end products of that reaction.

Highlight: “Researchers at MIT have introduced a novel Balance Feedback *Interface (BFI) that addresses the problem of bilateral feedback for tele-operation of humanoid robots…by studying various feedback response processes found in natural systems including in the human body, the team was able to model complex bilateral communications between machine and operator…the result is a humanoid robot with precision and sensitivity beyond anything achieved to date…applications include distance tele-operated surgery”

Insight: Many natural processes are not as static as they seem but are in fact dynamic systems which have reached equilibrium that require continuous adjustments to surrounding conditions. Basically there are two types of feedbacks: positive ones would improve a given process while negative feedbacks would alter it. A good example of that is the climate system (I have previously posted specifically on this aspect here).

Doing business is no different than certain natural cycle functions in that it needs constant adjustments to adapt to ongoing changes. When implementing processes or change strategies, it is of primary importance to concurrently develop effective feedback mechanisms in order to monitor the evolution of the changes.

While it may seem common sense, too often projects are successfully implemented but fail overtime because no adequate feedback mechanisms have been put in place. A process without its adequate control tools is not easily manageable. For instance it is not conceivable to develop a website these days without a proper associated Content Management System (CMS), and similarly the same system/system control approach should apply to any sizable project. Obvious direct benefits include:

• Being able to monitor the evolution;
• Being able to react in time based on those information;
• Keeping performance records;
• Due diligence.

Are you planning to implement change in the form of a new project? If so remember to concurrently develop a feedback monitoring platform which will allow to keep track and adjust…

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 203: Transporters

## How the choice of information delivery is crucial to business performance

Image: Cell Membrane Transport Proteins. A membrane transport protein* (or simply transporter) is a membrane protein involved in the movement of ions, small molecules, or macromolecules, such as another protein, across a biological membrane.

Highlight:“Biological membranes constitute the set of membranes defining boundaries and organelles in living cells–the structural and functional building blocks of all known living organisms… The integrity of the cell depends on its ability to separate inside from outside and yet at the same time allow massive transport of matter in and out the cell… Nature has elegantly met this challenge by developing membranes in the form of lipid bilayers in which specialized and highly efficient transport proteins are incorporated…based on these observations, researchers have developed high performance semi-permeable membranes …the applications for the bio pharmaceutical industry are tremendous…”

Insight: There are many examples in nature that use transporters to carry a signal. For instance cell functions use Membrane Transport Proteins* to allow information to transit through the cellular walls.

Applications in areas as far as telecommunications can be found. We all use mobile phones but few have a clue of the technology behind it. As a matter of fact the principles at the very core of these devices use sophisticated mathematics to encrypt and receive information. One of these is known as Wave Carriers whereby a weak information containing signal is carried by a more powerful one in order to cover the required distances, a bit like a car hoping onto a high speed train. The principle is basically using a three phase approach: encoding-transport-decoding.

The use of carrier signals is common in modern telecommunications to transport information

A point to make here is that it is crucial to choose the right transportation mode for a given information… For instance If you require information to flow to your employees internally, the use of a speaker (human) which will dispatch the message small groups at a time is probably the most effective; on the other hand, if you require to inform stakeholders throughout the world on an important update, social media may be the best choice; if you require classified information to reach specific people an encrypted message or in person delivery may be used…

While it seems common sense, the misuse of communication means in businesses is surprisingly common which often leads to problems affecting not only performance but in most serious cases even  corporate or individuals reputation. Recent political messages leaks during  the US election campaign is a good example of such…

Are you facing difficulties to communicate information across? If so always consider your options before jumping to the first or easiest communication means as the implications can be far greater than thought. A set of simple questions can be used to quickly decide on the choice of the transporter:

• What is the nature of the information?
• Who is the information intended to?
• Where does the information need to go?
• When does the information need to reach?

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 202: Torpor

## How dormant scheduling can be a powerful business strategy

Image: International Space Station. Hibernation* is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in endotherms. Hibernation refers to a season of heterothermy that is characterized by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate.

Highlight: “Given the compelling nature of the hibernation* concept, the European Space Agencies’ (ESA) Advanced Concepts Team has studied the technical feasibility of, and possible performance gains from this technology, with the help of biomedical scientists… There are many mammals, of at least six mammalian orders, which exhibit Torpor (the state of hibernation)….despite still being far from practical human applications, the study has identified a range of high potential aspects: inhibiting the shivering mechanism to lower body temperature; variation in the human metabolism; modulation of cell-nucleus activity (DADLE and hydrogen sulphide); regulation of genes expression…”

Insight: Hibernation is practiced by some species as a mean to escape the winter months. It is not a spontaneous decision but on the other end a well-planned and prepared strategy to adapt to a known regular inconvenient outcome.

In business sometimes a spontaneous immediate reaction to a disruptive event is not the best solution and putting the problem “to sleep” is literally a preferred outcome.

As an illustration let’s imagine that a potato chips company comes up with a great marketing tagline “the world’s best hot spicy crispy potatoes” which works extremely well for a few weeks until an unforeseen political event makes this tagline become inappropriate (and unmarketable): in a burst of anger, a politician has referred to a foreign diplomat as a “hot spicy crispy potato” (obviously a purely unlikely fictional scenario!). Thereafter, the company decides to suspend the marketing campaign for a period of 6 months until the situation becomes favorable again and that their tagline is no longer directly associated with this happening, which has become a temporary media sensation.

In today’s world, the speed at which information flows on media channels will increasingly lead to a need for dynamic corporate statements adjustments. For instance, in this scenario, an immediate problem that may occur is through search engines taglines and keywords: “hot spicy crispy potato” may now show-up primarily as an unwanted political event rather than the companies’ beloved tagline, thus affecting sales…

The “hibernation approach” can lead to a few outcomes:

• The program is simply put on halt to be reinstated at a later stage;
• The program is put on hold to be re-evaluated and if need be modified;
• The program is put on hold and cancelled due to unrecoverable conditions.

Are you anticipating/encountering disruptive change that cannot be solved instantly? If so, perhaps consider a “hibernation approach” and reinstalling the program when/if the external conditions become favourable again. In business as in life, taking a step back and allocating the time to evaluate is a key attribute…

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 201: Blossom

## How to manage nonlinear productivity

Image: creative commons. Blossom*: In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit trees (genus Prunus) and of some other plants with a similar appearance that flower profusely for a period of time in spring.

Highlight:“The giant Arum (Amorphoohallus titanum) reaches 3m in height and has the largest blossom in the plant kingdom. The giant pleated “petal” (spathe) weighs almost 4kg: the largest light-weight construction among plants or even in organisms…researchers have used the fabric as inspirations for new generation construction materials…”

Insight: In temperate climates spring is synonymous with a significant increase in wildlife activity; after the long months of winter when life is in a dormant state everything suddenly speeds-up tremendously to make the most of a narrow window preparing for the summer months; productivity is at its utmost stage.

It is not an unknown fact that human productivity is nonlinear, on a daily basis we are typically only productive for a few hours at most. Companies that claim that long working hours are synonymous with productivity are in the wrong. As a matter of fact some countries like Sweden get away with a ridiculously low day working hours while sustaining a productive economy (and a happy lifestyle). This is supported by psychological tests that demonstrate that our attention span cannot be sustained at its optimum level and that there will inevitably be peaks and downs of productivity.

Learning to know ones limits and productive states can be a great asset in being more productive as  individuals and within teams. That can be done by managing energy levels, knowing ones physiology or simply experimenting with daily routines that make the most of potential productivity stages which can vary greatly between individuals.

Some typical aspects that can influence productivity in people may include:

• A specific time of the day (or night);
• Specific food sources/nutrition;
• Lifestyle (remaining in good physical shape and keeping a happy state of mind);
• Sleep management;
• Time management (work and personal).

Do you know your productivity profile? If not, think about it and ask yourself what and when makes you more productive. This simple exercise can lead to overall significant performance and time management improvement …

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 199: Metamorphosis

## Why undertaking a major business transformation is becoming a necessity

Picture: Kingofwalpapers. Metamorphosis* is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation.

Highlight: “Locomotion ability, efficiency and reliability are key targets for a good robot…The linkage mechanism for robot locomotion is a discontinuous-constraint metamorphic* mechanism…Inspired by controlling strategy of the motor nervous system in peripheral vertebrae to the locomotion, researchers have developed complex mathematical algorithms to improve robot motor control and drive strategies…”

Insight: Never has the business landscape been so unpredictable as it is now considering the fact that businesses are facing multiple threats ranging from political instabilities, disruptive trends (e.g. the rise of robotics, 3D printing, online based services…) or mounting environmental pressures translating to stronger regulations. All these add-up to tremendous pressures put on businesses to drastically change their medium to long term strategies; it is no longer a matter of choice but an absolute necessity if a business is to sustain throughout the century.

Moving forward and drastically changing directions is not an easy decision to be made by companies as the outcome could be ultimately catastrophic if the wrong analysis is made and the transition is not managed adequately. The below are key points to consider:

• ensuring the analysis and predictions are robust and reflect the reality (there is nothing worst than to base a change strategy on wrong initial assumptions);
• ensuring the change will benefit the business (and not the other way);
• ensuring a progressive transition;
• ensuring the change strategy actually reflect the threats faced;

Are you concerned about the present and future trends on your business?  If so, perhaps be proactive in keeping-up with the rapidly evolving landscape and plan a change strategy for the medium to long term. As with a butterfly hatching from its cocoon, a proper business transformation will reflect three distinct phases:

• Unchanged phase: the business appears to look good but it is in fact unfit for the changes to come;
• Changing phase: The business may seem dull or facing difficulties when in fact it is getting a defense ready (apparent chaos is a sign of change, this phase must be closely monitored and managed. It is also wise to inform the stakeholders that the business is undergoing a transformation which is usually quite well received if communicated well);
• Changed phase: A new business arises which, if successful,  looks much better than the initial one in terms of fitness and market competitiveness.

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…

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

# Biomimetic file 193: Leapfrogging

## How innovation increments management is crucial to keeping a competitive edge

Image 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…