By Brandi Dixon
What can we learn from natures wisdom? How can we mimic the strategies used by species that are alive today, and create new ways of solving our problems?
Biomimicry is a creative form of technology that we are able to use in order to mimic nature and improve our lives overall. This process is not a recent study. Biomimicry has been utilized for nearly 4.5 billion years. The organisms on this planet have been continuously evolving and improving over that course of time.
Rock-Cut Architecture: 6000 BCE
Caves have been used as shelter since the monolithic era 6000 BCE, so it makes perfect sense that in India Buddhist temples and shrines were actually carved into caves and mountain sides. These temples eventually doubled as trade posts on the Silk Road.
George de Mestral invented Velcro after examining burs and mimicking their surface. He noticed burs were made up of tiny hooks. He decided to make a material mimicking that surface and partnering it with a surface covered in tiny loops. This in turn led to the very useful material we use today.
Sharkskin has been mimicked for its rough segmented texture. It turns out that bacteria do not like landing on the skin of a shark. Engineers have designed materials with a comparable microscopic texture that repel bacteria in a similar way.
The term “Biomimicry” was popularized by Janine Benyus in 1997 after the release of her book “Innovation Inspired by Nature”.
“Biomimicry is about valuing nature for what we can learn, not what we can extract, harvest, or domesticate. In the process, we learn about ourselves, our purpose, and our connection to each other and our home on earth.” (Janine Benyus
Biomimicry in Healthcare Administration
There are so many different ways a healthcare administrator could utilize biomimicry within an organization. One particular way I could see myself using this process in an organization is using it to build a strong, well balanced team. My inspiration would come from the process of a growing tree. Trees have three main parts to them, the roots, the trunk, and the crown. Each part of the tree has jobs that plays a vital role in the success of the trees growth. Like wise in a healthcare organization there are the leaders, the administrative staff, and the medical staff, all playing a vital role in the success in providing quality care. Trees need three main things in order to survive… sun, water, and nutrients. Without these three factors the tree is likely to die. In my opinion the three main things a healthcare organization needs is solid leadership, communication, and support.
Each part of the tree has a specific role in the growth process. No part of the tree is more important than the next. Often times trees have to adapt in order to survive and grow. Varying circumstances or conditions fall upon trees during the growing process. For example some trees surrounded in shadier areas will instead use their energy to grow taller instead of wider, in order to reach more sunlight for survival. Similar to a healthcare staff, there will always be varying circumstances and conditions in which we have to adapt and work together, in order to provide the best possible care for our patients. According to Hwang, J., Jeong, Y., Park, J. M., Lee, K. H., Hong, J. W., & Choi, J. (2015 ), “Biomimetics is centered on the idea that there is no model better than nature for developing something new and has produced excellent results in productivity and function.” Biomimicry prompts us to acknowledge natural selection and evolution, as it continues to work until the optimal design is obtained. The process has proven that nature is beyond worthy of imitation. As an administrator the importance of remembering that each part of the “tree” and each necessity of survival, are all equally important in producing a strong, healthy, organization.
Biomimicry is more than just physical productions of amazing technology. Biomimicry is a way of thinking. You see…its easy to look past all the different things that nature has to offer us. As humans, we have forgotten that we aren’t the most brilliant species on this planet. We have forgotten that we weren’t the first species to build homes for ourselves, to create paper, to waterproof items, or to heat and cool structures. Opening our eyes and using natures wisdom, will be the key to our survival on this planet.
Hwang, J., Jeong, Y., Park, J. M., Lee, K. H., Hong, J. W., & Choi, J. (2015). Biomimetics: forecasting the future of science, engineering, and medicine. International journal of nanomedicine, 10, 5701–5713. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S83642
Benyus,Janine (2020). Biomimicry institute. https://biomimicry.org/what-is-biomimicry/?gclid=CjwKCAiA2O39BRBjEiwApB2Ikkj1Ecb7-VZkh6-noGrgw7wmV-2y_wvnQC3F2lQPWYY_KBhMQsOjpRoCPEoQAvD_BwE
Staley,David (2018). Department of History at Ohio State University. https://ehistory.osu.edu/exhibitions/biomimicry-a-history