Bioteaming is biomimicry of social structures

Janine Benyus, talking at TED, describes biomimicry as learning an idea from an organism and then applying it - the conscious emulation of life's genius. Bioteaming, then, is the biomimicry of social structures- taking ideas from Nature about how groups perform and intra-operate, and applying them to enhance how we humans work together in groups and teams. Doug Philips aka teamite#222* and bioteams guest author muses.


In the video Benyus makes the point that organisms have already solved the kinds of problems we are facing, and that the answers we need are already everywhere in Nature. As she puts it: "Nature has done 3.8 billion years of R&D, with 10-30 million species with well-adapted solutions."

Benyus indicates that in the adaptation of life's genius to our problems needs human discretion and ingenuity. She shows a few examples of how the ideas are translated. Biomimicry is not the harnessing of life forms for our purposes (that is called domestication). Biomimicry is not a thoughtless or slavish adoption of some technique or mechansim, but rather "millions and millions of geniuses willing to gift us with their best ideas". We still have to choose to learn, and then figure out how to adapt and apply. As Bernd Heinrich, in his book "Why We Run" says: "They (animals) can show us how we became what we are, but not what we should try to become."

In that vein, we can look to social animals, insects such as bees, ants, and wasps and see a system based on cooperation and trust, not on command and control. And we can also see that even those social systems have limits... when a group gets too large, it divides and disperses into smaller groups. I think that is a lesson we often forget, that size does not scale indefinitely. Teams, companies, countries, all have their sweetspot sizes and growing beyond that size reduces their effectiveness and their efficiency. For more on this see "The maximum team size for effective working."

About the Author
Doug Philips, teamite #222*. Doug has been writing software in small and medium sized groups (sometimes teams, sometimes not), since the early 1980s.

*A teamite is like a termite but dwells in organizational teams instead of nests. While both are social creatures, team-ites feed on email where termites feed on dead plant material. Neither are to be confused with memo-ites who feed on memos made from dead plant material.

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I have been brought to Social Biomimicry!! Life has unfolded and led me to this space. In refining my ability to be taught by my environment, I have come to your page. Who is studying this field? Are there schools or institutes studying Social Biomimicry?? Any information would be greatly appreciated!!

K. Johnson
Student SF State University
San Francisco, CA

I read your article.The things you have written sound very sincere and nice topics i am looking forward to its continuation.


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