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…

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 185: Friction-less Motion

How reducing “frictions” can lead to more effective businesses

79d51f4d7e4d54d54b55519c3b462d00Image source: Department of Theoretical Physics at Ural University

Highlight: “Researchers at the University of Israel have investigated the self-locomotion of certain micro-organisms…these tiny swimmers live in a world surrounded by fluids and dominated by friction… they show that adaptations have led their propulsion to be almost friction-less as the micro-swimmer are propelled forward with the speed of the backward surface motion…in other words they move throughout an almost quiescent fluid…”

Insight: For those who have taken advanced chemistry classes, a fun and favorite experiment has always been playing with liquid nitrogen and splashing it on surfaces. Observing the droplets flow speedily is rather amusing! It is the result of a process whereby the very low temperature fluid instantly boils at room pressure and temperature thus creating a layer of air below it which allows the almost friction-less movement of the droplets. In such experiment one can visualize firsthand how surface frictions can dramatically slow down motion …

Friction-less adaptations can greatly improve natural systems energy levels and the same applies to the business world. In business terms “frictions” would be defined as elements which slow the normal operations or that prevent it from performing better. Typical examples would include inefficient staff(s), wrongly applied systems or processes and miscommunications.

Basically at any given time there are areas of a business which suffer from frictions and affect the overall operations. Often the situation is such that businesses don’t even realize that they are being slowed down by these frictions and blame poor performances solely on external factors instead such as the economy!

Is your business not performing as well as it should? Than perhaps you should consider  assessing where the frictions are and working towards dimming them…

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 184: Surface Tension

How to overcome obstacles with minimal risks

1robot_closeupImage source: Seoul National University

Highlight: “a group of engineers, led by a researcher at the Seoul National University, have just created a machine that can jump on water…the engineers studied the mechanics behind the Water Strider, an insect that can easily jump upwards from a pond. It’s an ability that’s poorly understood in insects in general…The trick, according to an analysis of a high-speed film of Water Striders, is to push down on the water with the maximum velocity that the surface tension can take. The further the insect’s leg pushes down, the greater the surface tension that builds under the leg and the better the upward jump. But if the leg pushes too far, the meniscus—the curved water surface—can’t take it and gives way, allowing the leg to sink…it’s necessary to find the optimal balance: push down hard enough to make maximum use of the surface tension, but not so hard that you rupture it…”

Insight: The water tension analogy is an inspiring business philosophy: The faster an obstacle tries to break the water surface the more difficult it is to go through it; as a matter of fact hitting water at high speeds is similar to trying to go through a concrete wall and a guarantied catastrophic outcome.

Is there something blocking you from moving ahead? Than perhaps consider a slower well-thought pass through rather than trying to rush. A slower path is often associated with significantly lesser risks than fast aggressive actions. However, rushing through is always an option and sometimes succeeds (not without risks); The point to retain here is that if one goes too fast, beyond a certain threshold point, than the failure rate increases sharply…

The adequate planning of the completion speed of any project (time management) is crucially important in its success rate. It can be really tricky to find the right balance that will keep a project on the track of a successful completion. The reality is that in life some situations are subject to risk taking while avoidance is the norm. Which path would you choose?

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/