Biomimicry for Social Innovation


Articles & Talks





Suggested Applications


Collaboration & Teamwork

  • The Bioteaming Manifesto tackles the challenge of high-performing virtual teams by looking at nature.
  • In this piece on “Natural Relationships,” the BCI consulting group draws parallels between different types of relationships found in natural systems and new forms of business collaboration.
  • This Harvard Business Review article on “Creating Value in Your Business Ecosystem” describes a role and relationships for ‘keystone’ organizations in a market, drawing upon insights from keystone species found in ecological systems.
  • In this classic piece from 1998 titled “The Irresistible Future of Organizing,” Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers describe three conditions of self-organizing systems for human collaboration: identity, information, and relationship.
  • Explore three stages of self-organization for social innovation: 1) Networks, 2) Communities of Practice, 3) Systems of Influence in this piece on “Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale” from the Berkana Institute.


  • This opinion piece suggests that education would benefit from biomimicry.


Leadership & Management

Network Design

  • In a simulation described in Science in 2010 (and summarized on this blog), slime molds convergently designed the Tokyo railway network, showing that biological networks developed “without centralized control” may yield solutions to optimization problems.


  • Biomimicry Resource Handbook, by Dayna Baumeister
  • The Nature of Investing, by Katherine Collins
  • Business Ecology: Why Most Green Business Practices Don’t Work…and What To Do About It. Describes twelve guiding principles for designing an organizational ecology.
  • Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software offers a broad introduction to self-organizing systems.
  • Honeybee Democracy tells the story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees. Chapter 1 excerpt.
  • The Keystone Advantage: What the New Dynamics of Business Ecosystems Mean for Strategy, Innovation, and Sustainability draws parallels between strategic alliances and biological ecosystems.
  • Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World applies insights from physics and biology to improve organizational leadership and performance, with an emphasis on information management.
  • Learning From the Octopus: How Secrets From Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease. Excerpt discussing how nature’s security systems are based on adaptability.
  • The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment. The founder of the ‘learning organization’ concept explores strategies for community, connectivity, and adaptation taken from the world’s longest-running companies.
  • The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done. Excerpt on an ant-based simulation used by Southwest to determine efficient plane boarding.
  • Thinking in Systems: A Primer is a seminal book on understanding and solving problems using whole systems thinking.

Resources for Practice

  • Visual overview of the Biomimicry Thinking process as defined by Biomimicry 3.8.
  • Scoping Phase: Use the Biomimicry Taxonomy to help identify the function your design seeks to solve.
  • Discovering Phase: Find natural models for key functions in the Ask Nature Database and find groups of adaptive solutions in the University of Cambridge Map of Life.
  • The Biomimicry Education Network blog provides suggestions for teaching biomimicry, some applicable to teaching it within an organization.
  • This module on group behavior from Arizona State University is designed to engage non-biologists in learning about the process of self-organization.

Training Opportunities

  • Biomimicry 3.8 is the global leader in biomimicry education and training, with programs ranging from a two-year professional certificate to multi-day “backyard” workshops and online self-paced courses.


  • Biomimicry 3.8 has pioneered the practice of biomimicry with companies and communities since 1998.
  • BeeDance is a consultancy that works on solutions inspired by nine lessons from the honeybee.
  • HOLOS Collaborative specializes in sustainable and systemic solutions integrated with the built environment.
  • Toby Herzlich and Company applies biomimicry to organizational and social change leadership.

Gratitude to Bay Area Biomimicry for this compilation of resources (Emily Sadigh and Julie Sammons)

If you’d like a resource linked on this page, please contact [email protected]