Genius All Around Us

main.jpgJust days ago, when I was gently reminded of my pending YNPN blog deadline, I undertook the painstaking process of determining a topic. Instinctively I looked inward and began typing up possible ideas.  Unsurprisingly, this tactic generated a boring and self-indulgent list along with a nagging feeling of being stuck without a fitting topic or idea for my post. 

These uninspired topics included captivating ideas such as ideas for avoiding summer burnout or end-of-fiscal-year crash, ideas for improving communications among teams, and fatigue associated with experimenting with new digital communications platforms in an organization. Thankfully, I've spared you from those potential posts. This afternoon I had the good fortune of learning about the principles of biomimicry and the limitless potential for biological and ecologically inspired design elements from Denny Royal, of Azul 7, a human-centered design firm here in MSP.

Denny walked us through some of the basic principles of biomimicry and provided some examples of how to approach problems (in work and personal life) by consulting with nature, biology, and ecology, rather than simply turning inward or to our devices for insight and guidance. One key concept of biomimicry is recognizing and tapping into the notion that "there is genius all around us" in the form species and systems that have emerged and adapted throughout thousands (or millions!) of years and that we can learn from and tap into this wisdom to approach and solve problems creatively.

Did you know that porcupines produce antibiotics in their skin? Because they often sleep in trees, end up falling out and hurting themselves, they have adapted a way to mitigate the damage through self-medication. Now that's a great way to adapt to a dangerous habit - nature is awesome!

As Denny talked about the "the conscious emulation of nature's genius" (which he described as the foundation of biomimicry design and thinking) and provided some easy ideas for looking to plants and animals for ideas and inspiration, I realized my dilemma about determining a suitable blog post topic was a product of my instinct to look inward rather than seeking inspiration from an external source. As we explored opportunities for applying some of these concepts in our work and personal lives, it dawned on me that I could take this opportunity to hopefully help someone else get "un-stuck" by introducing this concept in my blog post and, if nothing else, giving everyone something new to Google when you are bored (very much NOT a biomimicry concept)!

So, if you are feeling stuck or don't know how to move ahead, ask yourself, "What would nature do?" You don't have to get totally unplugged, head to the Boundary Waters, or register for an MS in Botany to do this - just take a step back from your computer, set down the phone, and get outside and observe what's happening around you. Or, if that's not an option, simply look to someone outside of your field or close circle for a fresh insight or perspective. 

Hopefully this post was a bit more engaging than my reflections on the joys and perils of Asana or Salesforce… If you want to learn more about biomimicry or how to apply this thinking to your everyday life, check out  With that, get out there and enjoy summer! 

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