To Innovate, Learn from Nature

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 10, 2008

Nature has had more than 3.8 billion years to perfect its survival strategy. Today, innovators and engineers are applying biomimicry practices to design products and solve engineering problems. For example, carpet manufacturer Interface created its nonglue carpet tiles by studying lizards’ feet.

Other companies are also mimicking nature to enhance innovation practices and meet customer demand for eco-friendly products. Here are some tips to help drive your sustainable innovation initiatives:

• CEOs must have a clear vision of how innovation will drive the company’s business goals.

• Executives must communicate the vision effectively and empower employees to perform against the company’s innovation goals. As our CEO says, we must "inform to perform."

• Apply a structured innovation process to innovate rapidly and reliably as well as identify opportunities that align with your customers and business objectives.

• Provide knowledge workers relevant content on biology and nature so they can think outside their domain expertise and practice biomimicry effectively.

• Eliminate risks from your innovation process. Reward employees for mastering sustainable innovation methodologies and applying them to achieve innovation success.

• To help your innovation workers better understand where to look for design inspiration in nature, equip then with skills to map the natural evolution of your product and technology and to consider the design challenges functionally. For example, if you need to harness energy, study how the leaves do it.

James Todhunter
Chief Technology Officer
Invention Machine
Boston

Reader Comments

Angus

September 30, 2010 8:14 AM

I'm currently working on a project that follows this ethos, do you have any particular examples of designs that take from natural systems like you mention? Thanks!
- Angus

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