Category Archives: Regenerative Business Thinking

Business innovation supplied by nature…

(Adapted from “Copying nature – biomimicry and business success…” in our September newsletter)

Back in the 19th century the human race got hooked into chemical and mechanical engineering. We developed steam power and learned to make soap in quantity, then later fell in love with petrochemicals.

While these have been useful tools to a point, their side effects are showing up as increasingly damaging. Biomimcry is showing up as a new source of innovation for both product and systems design.

“Biomimicry is studying a leaf to invent better solar cell, or a coral reef to make more resilient company. The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, climate control, benign chemistry, transportation, collaboration, and more.” Janine Benyus – A Biomimicry Primer

Heat, beat and poison…

Mechanical and chemical engineering practices and their mindsets have been foundational in the technologies we use today – however new developments are emerging that will increasingly make these resource-hungry oldsters out-of-date.

Copying nature…

Biomimicry

We’ve become increasingly aware in recent decades that nature does some pretty amazing things at room temperature and ambient pressure. We use massive heat and pressure to turn non-renewable petrochemicals into Kevlar – but a spider makes a super strong web in it’s stomach AND using flies as a highly renewable input.

Physics and biology are showing up as rich sources of innovation and invention for developing not only smarter products, but smarter systems.

Biomimicry can operate at one of three levels:

  • Copying natural form – for example, copying the beak of a kingfisher to re-design the nose of a bullet train.
  • Mimicking natural processes – using vortexes to purify water the way rivers do, instead of mechanical filters or damaging chemicals
  • Copying natural ecosystems to develop regional models conducive to life.

This new source of design inspiration is exactly that – inspiring. Find out more about biomimicry from: http://www.asknature.org/ (Just watch the front banner cycle through different innovations to get a feel for the possible.)

Remember also that the core principle of true biomimicry is the development of solutions conducive to life. You can have a bio-inspired product like velcro – however if you make it from petrochemicals, you’re not really practicing biomimicry.

For some great examples of how biomimicry is being used in the world today, explore some of the case studies of The Blue Economy: http://www.theblueeconomy.org/blue/Innovations.html

Is attack your last option – or your only strategy?

(First published in “Regenerative Thinking in Action” – April 2014)

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
– Richard Buckminster Fuller

Are you in automatic fight mode?

One of our great modern philosophers – Humberto Maturana – has commented, that we live in an age where society’s prevailing mood is one of aggression.  One of the implications of this is that we can get trapped in the assumption that the way to change a system is to fight it. Continue reading

Collaborative Consumption and the Sharing Economy

(First published in “Regenerative Thinking in Action” – April 2014)

A different aspect of the shift to regenerative thinking is the development of a group of value-sharing initiatives that leverage the Internet to deliver value. In their book “What’s Mine is Yours”, Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers identify different forms of collaborative consumption systems including:

  • Product service –  based on users paying for the benefit of using a product without needing to own the product outright.
  • Redistribution – where used or pre-owned goods are passed on from someone who does not want them to someone who does.
  • Collaborative lifestyles – where people with similar needs get together to share and exchange time, space, skills and other intangibles.

Rachel Botsman explains Collaborative Consumption in this TED Talk:

If you’re interested to investigate further, here’s a list of some of the Australian initiatives from planetcentric.

We’re heavily habituated to owning what we need, so exploring for collaborative alternatives can be another way to leverage the opportunity side of regenerative business.  If you need help in developing a new strategic perspective, then Contact Us.

Sustainable, restorative, regenerative – what’s in a name?

The distinctions we make in the language we use are really important. Language is what we use to invent our future.  In the evolving language of sustainability, the shift towards a regenerative approach reflects not just new strategies, but a new world view that offers enormous opportunity.

I’m better with words than pictures, so it was great to find this diagram by Bill Reed late last year.  It helps explain the different perspectives and the thinking behind them. Continue reading

Revisiting ‘the cycle of hope’…

Early in my sustainability journey I came across The Better World Handbook . The wisdom in its introduction empowered me to manage some of my emotions about “the tough stuff” and whether this sustainability thing was for me.

As I sat down to do some planning for the coming year it seemed a good time to share the Cycle of Hope and also the Handbook’s  sound advice on traps that stop people from making a difference.cycle-of-hope Continue reading

Is the tide starting to turn in business sustainability awareness?

When the tide comes in across the sandflats, sometimes it doesn’t look like there’s anything much happening at all.  There’s a trickle here, a trickle there – it almost looks like nothing is changing.  Then some of the trickles start to join up and you can see that something is starting to happen.

This is how I’ve been feeling just recently, watching an increasing number of win/win/win stories of business sustainability.  (A selection of which I’ve posted in the LinkedIn Regenerative Business Group.) Continue reading

Going Beyond Cradle to Cradle: The Upcycle and the Future of Sustainable Design

I was inspired by ‘Cradle to Cradle’ when it first came out – as a business analyst in the manufacturing game it just made so much sense. Good to see a followup – “The Upcycle” is going on my reading list – after I get through “The Blue Economy”.

As an Ontological Practitioner who believes that we create new realities by describing them, to me these books are a celebration of the ongoing emergence of Regenerative Business.

It’s like the tide starting to come in over sandflats – a trickle here, a trickle there.  It doesn’t look much individually, but add it to stories like the major $ performance improvements of UK DIY retailer B&Q and to me there’s a trend emerging – one that started over two decades ago.  When you get players like B&Q facilitating consumer carbon footprint reduction, it looks like it has potential to accelerate.

What’s your evidence that the tide might have already turned?  Do you know what you’re looking for as evidence of positive change?

Be Green Packaging LLC

The Upcycle – Taking Cradle to Cradle to the Next Level

upcycle book cradle to cradle When William McDonough and Michael Braungart released their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things in 2002, few could predict their ideas would have such a wide-reaching impact on the world of business. However, the Cradle to Cradle principle provided a much-needed blueprint for companies to incorporate the principles of sustainability into their business models and paved the way for a new certification system based on a products entire life cycle. The book has since been translated into 12 languages and become required reading for numerous college courses based on sustainability.

Nearly ten years after the publication of Cradle to Cradle, McDonough and Braungart have released yet another landmark book called The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance. Instead of simply rehashing the same ideas presented in the original book, they have taken…

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