First of all, we need a deep understanding of the context of each design challenge. We also need to determine how it differs from that of the biological inspiration. It’s not enough to understand the real needs of the end-users and customers; we also need to understand the system in which they exist. For example, if we’re trying to solve the pain points of unengaged employees struggling to find a more collaborative way of working, we need to understand their entire work environment (i.e., incentives and shared goals, the interactions they have within the organization, and with the external world). This requires a systems-thinking approach both during problem exploration and solution development.
Secondly, it’s not enough to simply think about honeybees during ideation and hope to come up with biomimicry solutions. Translating biological inspiration into a solution is the most important, yet often most difficult part of biomimicry. Not only is it limited to scientific-research findings, but it also requires someone that can translate the science into applicable design principles.
Thirdly, we tend to overvalue efficiency and trust numbers more than anything else when it comes to evaluating innovation. But is it even possible to quantify systemic innovation? And because biomimicry is inherently more complex, it seems a less efficient problem-solving approach. As such, it’s hard to convince corporates to invest in biomimicry.