Biomimetic file 202: Torpor

How dormant scheduling can be a powerful business strategy

o-international-space-station-facebookImage: 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 consider a “hibernation approach” and reinstalling the program when/if the external conditions become favorable again. In business as in life, taking a step back and allocating the time to evaluate is a key attribute…

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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

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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…

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…

bluestrike logo

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…

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…

bluestrike logo

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…

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…

bluestrike logo

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