When addressing conservation challenges,
humanity is facing complex, wicked problems.
We need to see possibilities through a new set of mental models
that are coherent with the natural realm that we ourselves are part of.
Through bio-inspiration, we can adopt new mental models that are coherent with the principles that govern both natural systems and ourselves as an integral part of these systems.
The following mental models will help align team members with their beliefs, values, assumptions, and expectations.
The 7 D4C mindsets will enable a genuine connection to yourself, other people, and the natural environment as a whole.
- Be yourself
- Create genuine, strong bonds
- Always align with your core values
Any working team (and the natural realm) will benefit more from your uniqueness, your passions and your spontaneity.
In nature, form follows function. This allows organisms to accomplish their goals with the minimum resources.
Self-honesty encourages vulnerability, openness and awareness, which have been identified as the main principles for building trust between teams.
When people are honest with themselves, they are committed to their core beliefs. When self-honest people relate to one another, they appear coherent and fearless, confident by acknowledging their capabilities and flaws. The bonds based on self-honesty are genuine, respectful, and strong.
- Cultivate error-friendliness
- Be grateful and hopeful
- Use your intent
Aim high and expect positive results:
every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Even the most challenging wicked problems have an approachable angle under a positive mindset.
Positivity within a project is key, since it can help teams convert ideas into reality.
Having a positive mindset can also help teams learn from mistakes and evolve in their projects. Whether your team accomplishes the goal or not, the journey will definitely add knowledge and experience for everyone involved.
- Respect slow wisdom
- Align every project with natural systems
- Acknowledge your limited viewpoint
Trust the earth's old, wise, perfected ways of doing things.
Learn from them, try to imitate them as much as possible.
When we acknowledge that we are an embedded, small part of a vast system that has a very limited viewpoint, we conduct our projects differently.
Humility relates to the adoption of the beginner's mindset. When we let ego tell us that we have arrived and figured it all out, it prevents us from learning.
Error-friendliness relates to the friendly cooperation between errors and learning for the exploration of new opportunities. This allows natural systems to face the future, which is open and unknown.
In the context of innovation, there needs to be a humble balance between fast knowledge and slow wisdom. We must accept that we cannot entirely control natural systems and accept that our human paradigms, models and data only reflect a tiny part of reality.
- Explore alternative knowledge to the main scientific paradigms
- Seek balance within yourself and in your methods
- Remember that the Earth is feminine
Seek balance between soft and hard approaches, they are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world.
Balance can be explained using the Ying and Yang principle. Yin and Yang represent the concept of duality balanced in an indivisible whole, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Yin refers to the feminine energies in life, and yang refers to the masculine energies in life. Feminine energy is about being, waiting, caring; while masculine energy is about doing, efficiency and results. Masculine qualities are dominant, strong, independent, assertive, brave, disciplined, rational, etc. Feminine traits are emotional, collaborative, nurturing, vulnerable, caring, humble, intuitive, creative, understanding, etc.
When looking at the feminine, the Yin, it becomes evident why the natural realm is traditionally presented as female, why mother earth is a mother and not a father, and the qualities that we need to foster within projects in order to restore balance.
- Problems are never completely solved
- Think in processes, circles and spirals
- Aim for thriveability, not eternal growth
When we think in cycles, nothing ever is lost, everything is transformed, just like in the natural realm.
Just like nature is cyclic, humans that are embedded in it are cyclic. Every living system has phases of growth and phases of rest (e.g.: summer and winter, wake and sleep); phases towards the inside and phases towards the outside, this is the slow wisdom that enables evolution, where growth is based on quality more than quantity.
We must acknowledge that any living system that is growing relentlessly eventually collapses. This is addressed by embedding circular, regenerative models into your projects from the conception stages.
Throughout the D4C methodology, teams can go from "agile to deep" analysis in cycles, iterating and optimizing their understanding, ideas, projects. These cycles are spirals moving forward and they apply to people as they apply to projects. (e.g. Build on ideas of others, re-interpret your previous ideas, iterate in order to refine).
- Everything is connected
- Build interdisciplinary teams
- Plan for intended and unintended consequences
Understand yourself and your projects as living processes, embedded and intertwined within all of the other processes that make up a living world.
Nature is systemic. A system is greater than the sum of its parts. What makes it great are the interactions and relationships between those parts. Interdisciplinarity is key to systems thinking.
Think of the world as a continuous dialogue between order, disorder and organization: nature, that shows itself to be unitary, integrated and irreductible in its parts. A nature in which chance and necessity combine in the most unforeseeable ways. A vital nature, in which we are immersed, of which we ourselves are made, and which we ourselves have produced.
No organism can survive completely in isolation from other living things, human beings included. All living things depend on resources and ecosystem services made available through interconnected webs of relationships that compose the living system that is Earth itself.
- Step into different shoes, hear different voices
- Be curious, run tests
- Embrace uncertainty, relativity and ambiguity
Be open to new perspectives within yourself and from other species. Unlearn. Challenge your assumptions. Relearn. Repeat.
Every time you measure, make a statement, or get an insight, it's always in relation to your frame of reference. But remember that in nature, there is no "absolute" frame of reference.
In the D4C approach, participants must consider numerous points of view simultaneously, become comfortable with ambiguity, and embrace uncertainty. We must be critical towards any existing paradigm and see the world with fresh eyes, understanding that in wicked problems, everything is relative.
In both biology and design, a strategy that works well to meet a function in one context, might not work in a different setting. We must be prepared to deconstruct and reframe problems continuously.