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Failing to succeed

Nature has a wonderful way of teaching, if we can manage to stay still and silent enough to engage with her ways. One of the areas that we've been finding most interesting to reflect on is the idea of failure, which doesn't really seem to exist in nature - the only 'failure' that we've been able to conceive so far would be the failure as 'not adapting to your changing environment - and going extinct' - but even this isn't a big deal in nature as the disappearance of dinosaurs makes space for lots more species, including eventually, us.

A recent Seth Godin blog about failure prompted me to think about the scales for failure that link to the work that we're doing on biomimicry

FAIL OFTEN: with ideas or projects that can challenge the status quo. Proposals. Brainstorms. Concepts that open doors. By taking small steps frequently and sharing ideas widely, there's little risk of over-expending energy on something that doesn't work. A plant will send out root hairs to find the next nutrient - as they're only a cell or two thick, it's not too big a deal if they don't find food. If I haven't gestated on my magic idea for months before I share it, it's no big deal either.

FAIL RARELY: Avoid failing often on the things that you have to do for a living; in nature, it's bad news for a raptor to miss and his a tree instead, and it can be dangerous to eat the wrong food. For humans, it can screw up a presentation once, but to do it often will lose us customers or influence quickly.

FAIL NEVER: Bring home the food, raising young, keeping warm and staying healthy are the keystones for survival in nature in the same way that delivering for stakeholders and customers is key in business. Adaptation to a rapidly changing environment, such as the one that we're creating - peak oil, energy, water and food crises that we've created - is something that we've got to do. We can't afford to fail on this one, but look as though we're going to. "Too difficult", "not enough time" or "too complicated" may all be true, but if we fail to adapt, we're out of here.

Learn when to turn failure into food

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