Biology is the Ultimate Business Model
The pandemic has reminded us that we’re biological creatures, and the ongoing climate emergency requires a massive update to our ways of thinking and living. The good news is, biology has, along with technical innovations, a lot to teach us about how to think, live and do business. These insights, combined with direction and focus, have the potential to do worlds of good.
The Economist stated that “biological information and its implementation are inseparable. Life runs not on software and hardware, but in allware.” What this means is that the conception and execution of a biological program is one and the same. This is profound as our dominant guiding metaphor over the last decade has been one where these concepts are separate: computers.
We’ve been making technology, businesses, and relationships as if parts of the system are siloed entities and don’t reverberate past a small sphere. This mentality makes it easy to skirt responsibility for things that happen outside your illusory border. We think a shift is in order.
Biology provides a model for balance. Human history post-industrial revolution is a story of unbelievable progress. We’ve lifted billions out of poverty, put a man on the moon and connected the world. However, that story comes with a footnote, or rather, a footprint: CO2 emissions and the climate emergency. The rebranding of human nature as something above nature itself has left us with a blindspot, and thus in our race for linear progress we’ve forgotten about circular equilibrium. Nature and biology not only provide us with a model for how a world in balance might look, but also gives us the tools to make that happen.
Biology teaches us how to adapt.
In a recent appearance the biologist Manolis Kellis outlined how biology’s messiness allows it to adapt, how it is precisely biology’s imperfections that allow it to gain from disorder.
For business, this doesn’t mean creating chaos, but building systems and narratives that can grow and live in harmony with an ever changing world. We’re stepping now into an age of adaptation, where those who can balance a unified vision (a skill of humans), contextual awareness (allware), and an ability to adapt (and evolve) will ultimately thrive.