10 Lessons from a Biomimicry Practitioner's Learning Journey 📚

Biomimicry Basics

Getting Started with the Biomimicry Practitioner Program

Getting Started

Step 1 — Scoping

Step 2 — Discovery

Step 3 — Create

Step 4 — Evaluate

Reflection on the Biomimicry Practitioner Program

  1. Identify a meaningful design challenge 

    In my case, I focused on how to make running more comfortable in hot and humid weather. This worked well because I was concurrently training for a 50-mile ultramarathon which meant I’d be doing a lot of long runs during the miserably hot and humid summers in Washington, D.C. My training was basically R&D for this program.

  2. Trust the process

     Try to withhold any solutions that come to mind in the early stages of this program and instead remain open to the process which points you in the right direction at each step. The process felt like wayfinding through complexity using a compass and a map rather than having precise GPS-based turn-by-turn directions and for that reason was a richer experience.

  3. Start with the end in mind

    If you want to make something that’s more sustainable then test your thinking against Life’s Principles at the earliest point. And test periodically at key moments. Also, have a clear goal for yourself of what success looks like. My main goal was to learn more about the biomimicry process (success!) with a stretch goal of developing an idea that has the potential to go further (maybe?).
  4. Don’t get too attached to your ideas 

    Core to the ethos of biomimicry is the need to quiet your own cleverness. It’s easy to assume you already have the right answer to your challenge. Based on the experience of my cohort, most of us made large changes to our thinking once we began turning to nature for answers. In my case, when searching for “how does nature stay comfortable during high activity when it’s hot and humid” I learned that nature adapts to hot and humid conditions by becoming nocturnal, less active, immersing in water/shade/moving underground — basically doing whatever it takes to avoid heat and humidity. Those adaptations don’t directly address the design challenge. So solving this design challenge required abstracting the challenge into component parts, turning to nature for examples, zooming out across the breadth of possibilities for insights and then mapping examples back to the context.
  5. More is more 

    I’m a “less is more” person but in the case of this program, generating more functions and identifying more species was incredibly helpful for finding patterns that push you closer to an optimal solution.
  6. Put in the effort

    As with most programs like this, you have to put in the effort and the team is right there with you to nudge you in the right direction when needed.
  7. Learn from others 

    The advantage of a cohort-based program is that you’re sharing the journey with others. I wish I had invested more time during the program in better understanding and tracking what others were working on.
  8. Think broadly

    When searching for species you may need to revise your function. In my case, I started searching for species that “dissipate heat” or “cool off”. Eventually, I realized I needed to describe it differently. “Dissipate heat” is similar to homeostasis. “Cool off” is similar to evapotranspiration which is related to ambient temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. Once I broadened my thinking I discovered species and principles that were key to the proposed solution.
  9. Lean into uncertainty 

    At times I felt lost in the vocabulary or out of my comfort zone with some of the structure but then realized that’s where the learning is.
  10. Expect to test your limits 

    Biomimicry is such a broad discipline and is, by nature, multi-disciplinary so you will bump up against your limits during this program. The Learn Biomimicry team will guide you through those moments.

About: Andrew excels at developing new products and services that help companies do well by doing good. For 20 years he's driven environmental and social impact at iconic organizations including National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, PBS, and United Way through partnerships with corporations including Salesforce, Esri, JP Morgan, Suntory and Pepsi. Andrew is passionate about the emerging practice of biomimicry as a methodology for driving innovation and solving business challenges by translating strategies perfected by nature into a business context.


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