Tag Archives: The Blue Economy

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we use today – however new developments are emerging that will increasingly make these resource-hungry oldsters out-of-date.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

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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

If you can talk, you can change the world…

There’s a proverb from Zimbabwe that my singing teacher quoted a lot:

“If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing.”

Not so many years ago, how humans went about the business of behaviour change was pretty much a mystery.  Those who could do it and do it well were considered to have ‘a way with people’. Continue reading

A recent podcast on The Blue Economy in Australia

Mad Scientist Radio recently hosted a special edition on The Blue Economy in Australasia with guests Dr Martin Blake and Leigh Baker. The scientists took a break from talking about SEO to discuss the exciting, regenerative potential of this opportunity-based approach to business sustainability that uncovers value and cash flow in unexpected places.

Are you a potential deep green cubicle commando?

I pulled the book “Cubicle Commando. Intrapreneurs, Innovation and Corporate Realities” off my bookshelf this week.  Here’s the back cover intro:

“You don’t have to leave your job to express your true self.  You can do it right there from inside the tent.”  Lisa Messenger & Zern Liew

Likewise, if you want to make a big sustainability difference, you may not need an official ‘sustainability’ job.   Real, long term sustainability is about a system change – you’re already part of the system, so it’s quite probable that you can make a difference from where you’re currently sitting.

What could you do from where you now sit?

Three are all sorts of possibilities, depending on how courageous you are and how skillful you are at influencing.  Some of them might include:

  • Finding a way to introduce an accountant to the thinking behind the recent World Forum on Natural Capital;
  • Getting your purchasing department to trial ‘refill stations’ for whiteboard markers, and maybe even re-manufactured markers;
  • Finding a way to play Gunter Pauli’s video on The Blue Economy “Going Beyond My Own Dreams” for somebody in marketing or product design (or even in the executive group if you’re connected there).

There are a lot of people looking for a ‘sustainability job’ inside the existing linear economy – it’s a tough competition.  Before you take it on, have a close look at where you are now – you might be able to do more good as a “deep green” or “blue economy” cubicle commando.  What other possibilities can you think of?

From the Club of Rome to 2013 (and beyond) – regenerative thinking and some developing practices

(Originally posted June 2013. Most recently updated September 2014)

I read a recent blog post which made the claim that In the past 25 years, only lip-service has been paid to SD, particularly around the use of fossil fuels.”   I don’t agree – I believe that we’re much further down the track than most people know. 

To me, the past 25 years have been the design phase of developing a regenerative economy.    Increasingly, those designs are being translated into innovation in the built and made environments. So I’ve started putting together a list of the developing principles and practices of Regenerative Thinking as I understand them. Continue reading

Who specifically? What specifically? What’s beyond ‘someone should do something’…

OK, so you want a change in your world – what’s that change going to look like?  Do you know ?  Can you describe what you want instead?

A web post I was referred to recently said that: “Those in charge of our world currently are clearly not doing the job that needs to be done“.  The response to that post was:  ‘What are “our current leaders” failing to do? What are you hoping we … [the alternative leaders]…  do?

Who specifically….

Who specifically do you want to influence?  Who has the power now, today, to make a decision that will lead to direct action in the domain that you want action? Who is the person who has the power to make that change happen?  Do you know?  Can you get beyond “the government should” or “business shouldn’t” to describe what change you want and who truly has the power to get it initiated?

What specifically…

What specifically do you want them to do?  What process do you want them to follow?  What results will it generate and for whom?   What specific evidence will tell you that the change you want has been achieved? Continue reading