Biomimetic file 212: Inductive Thinking

How inductive thinking can lead to strategic risks reductions

induction

Highlight: “In biomimetic or biologically inspired design, designers use analogical reasoning to compare similarities between biological phenomena and design problems, and then transfer analogous strategies to develop design solutions. Researchers observed that although several innovative solutions to engineering problems have been inspired by biological phenomena, challenges still exist in developing generalized methodologies for biomimetic design…a different inductive approach has been proposed…”

Insight: In mathematics, a type of reasoning is called “inductive”. The basics behind such rule of though is simple yet extremely powerful. Basically a typical inductive reasoning would look something like this:

  • An event is true at some point in time;
  • An even is still true at a further point in time;
  • Because the event has been consistently true on many occasions, it is assumed that the event will continue to be true with a high probability of outcome (this probability can be assessed).

The downside of this type of reasoning is to fall within the trap of assuming that the events will always be true or in other words being overconfident. Perfect inductive reasoning while working in certain applications such as micro physics where predominant forces and little disturbances occur does not work flawlessly in our everyday world. Indeed, in business for instance a successful outcome may be replicable many times but there will  be exceptions where the outcome differs because of external disturbances (e.g. economic fluctuations, accidents, unforeseen events…). Noting the above such mathematical reasoning framework is still inspirational when forging business strategies because:

  • If an event is replicable it is worth noticing and adjusting policies based on this high probability of outcome to improve processes;
  • Knowing the probability of success will help forge stronger strategies and manage the risks;

We all use inductive thinking once in a while without being conscious of it. For instance every time we take a plane there is a very small probability that something may happen, yet most of us are willing to take the risks knowing that:

  • This plane/company/aircraft type has been flying for x period of time;
  • So far nothing has ever happen to this fleet;
  • Based on the large number of flights without incidents there is a high probability that nothing will happen on my flight…
  • Therefore, I’m willing to take the risk.

Are you facing difficult decisions that may have outcomes involving a long history? If so, remember to assess the probability of success based on historical records and take decisions after you know the probability of outcome…

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/

 

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

Biomimetic file 210: The Matrix Effect

How strategic insertions can reveal corporate secrets

matrix_effect_by_en3rgy16-d4hktcbImage: extract from the motion picture The Matrix, creative commons. The method of *standard addition is a type of quantitative analysis approach often used in analytical chemistry whereby the standard is added directly to the aliquots of analysed sample. This method is used in situations where sample matrix also contributes to the analytical signal, a situation known as the matrix effect, thus making it impossible to compare the analytical signal between sample and standard using the traditional calibration curve approach

Highlight: “A biomimetic sensor has been developed as a promising new analytical method for the determination of cyanide in different samples. The sensor was prepared by modifying a carbon electrode… Recovery studies were carried out using river and drinking water samples and the results obtained demonstrated that it is a reliable alternative method for the detection of this analyte”

Insight: In analytical chemistry, a powerfull technique is called “spiking”. The process of chromatography allows the identification of certain compounds (molecules) in a substance (gaz or liquid). While sometimes the results are oviously identificable, in other instances it is not. Spiking involves tricking the system by voluntarily adding a small amount of a substance to drive a reaction which will clearly indicate the presence or absence of the same substance…

This technique can be applied to business and is a powerful tool to have corporations or individuals reveal details that they would otherwise restrain to tell (e.g. competitiveness issues, sensitive information, non-ethical practices, unlawful practices…) . Indeed, when in confusion it is wise to test an assumption by strategically incorporating a hint in a communication in order to drive a response. In certain cases this will help to clarify the uncertainty. However, this technique must be used cautiously within ethical boundaries and a clear line must be drawn so that the other party does not feel offended  or that they have fallen into a trap. Indeed, lying is not a nice thing to do (and should not be done) to find out an hidden outcome but Spiking is not a lie, it is more of a psychological strategy to drive a voluntary answer from an interlocutor that may reveal a key sought after statement. After all people always have the option to restrain themselves from answering or revealing information they do not which to reveal, it is a basic human right.

For instance lets illustrate the above with the following case study: a businessman has an important meeting with an investment firm interested to acquire part of his business shares. While the businessman has undertaken an in depth background check on this company (its values, financial strengths and stability…) he is still left in the doubt on whether or not the investor is genuine and understands his company’s values and objectives. Besides strong financial performance, this businessman’s Life Sciences company has a long history of doing social good and philanthropy to help communities in need. To continue on his family’s values, the businessman wishes’ that all shareholders understand and respect these values as well. In order to find out, the businessman prepares a range of questions he wishes to asks the investment firm and at one point strategically inserts a well thought statement as a side comment:

“by the way I don’t know if you have heard the news last night but some medical supplies money in Africa has increasingly been diverted to Rwanda to fund the weapons trades which eventually ends up in the ends of local rebels who, as soon as they have their hands on them, pressure local communities to slavery, how strange…” 

Seemingly a causal statement well inserted in the context of the conversation about medical supplies in African war zones, at this stage the business is very attentive of every aspects of his interlocutors responses both in his behaviours and answers.

To his surprise the interlocutor does not seem to connect to his statement and quickly moves on with answering the previous question regarding supplies storage.

Through this seemingly small statement the Businessman in a matter of seconds has completely changed his mind regarding this investor and has decided that he will not get this company in because they do not seem sincere about the values of the company.

Are you facing important decision making and unsure about your decisions? If so, perhaps consider a spiking technique and observe responses to the spike. You may be surprised of the 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…

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

Biomimetic file 207: Wave Soup

 

Why dispersion is sometimes a better alternative than concentration

electromagnetic-waves-08Image: 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 picks 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 pick 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…

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 206: Impossible Logic

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

possibleImage: 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…

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 204: Feedbacks

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

earth-05Image 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…

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 203: Transporters

How the choice of information delivery is crucial to business performance

maxresdefaultImage: 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.

amplitude-modulation1

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?

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 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, 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…

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 201: Blossom

How to manage nonlinear productivity

Cherry BlossomsImage: 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 …

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 200: Entropy

Why maintaining order is key to business integrity

smoke_texture2788Picture source: creative commons. *In physical terms, entropy is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. ..In other words entropy measures the lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder…

Highlight:”Researchers from the Universidad de Guanajuato have developed new types of fuel cells partly inspired from processes found in species…One of the key findings shows the best flow field to minimize the entropy* production…”

Insight: Entropy is omnipresent in nature, it is a general observation rule that natural systems tend to stabilize overtime at the lowest energy levels. For instance plants would grow where they get the most exposure to sunlight, birds would adopt flight patterns that are most efficient. It is also a general observation that in nature entropy always tends to increase overtime: disorder is a more energy stable state than order because it requires less energy…

In business however, disorder (high entropy) is often synonymous with poor performance. Once a business operations become in a state of disorder, chaotic outcomes can quickly escalate leading the business in a state of crisis. In order to keep a business in order a lot of energy (human efforts and energy literally) must be constantly put in!

A personal case I came across was the visit of a Japanese car parts manufacturing plant in Cambodia, I was amazed by the level of order in the manufacturing chains, everything seemed to be perfectly in place and following very precise procedures. On the other hand, not long after I visited a steel processing plant in Indonesia and was struck by the level of disorder in all aspects of the company. After a bit of background study on these two companies it turned out that the first had seen record breaking profits while the second was in financial difficulties. while they may be other factors involved, order in operations (and overall management) was certainly a key contributor to the success of the first company …

The below indicators are key to assessing the state of disorder and should act as red flags that a company is in a “high entropy state”:

  • Escalating systems failure rates;
  • Poor safety records;
  • high employees turnover.

Do you operate a business that involves complex chains and processes? If so perhaps do not overlook the need to keep operations in order as it will reflect positively on outputs and safety records…There are various external certification that can facilitate (but not replace good governance) the maintenance of order such as certain ISO standards (e.g. 9001, quality control) which in today’s competitive market are no longer an option but a must to remain trustworthy, attractive and competitive…

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/