Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
ANNE MILLER
Presentation & Sales Specialist
Author | Speaker | Coach
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!

METAPHOR MINUTE ARCHIVE

Metaphor Minute: Bees, Bones & Geckos


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July 06, 2016

Bees, Bones, & Geckos

What do bees, ants and schools of fish have to do with energy efficiency? What does bone cell structure have to do with the partitions in your Airbus A320 plane? What does a gecko (yes, that cute little Geico gecko) have to do with eliminating toxic fumes in carpet tiles? If you know anything about Biomimicry, the answer is everything.

Janine Benyus is the co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8, a design consulting firm, which finds inspiration in nature to solve business design and strategy problems. In effect, she uses nature as her metaphor for discovering solutions to serious problems.

To answer the opening questions…

  • Bees, ants, and schools of fish communicate in very efficient ways among themselves. It isn’t too much of a leap to take that concept of internal communication among all players in the natural world to developing a technology that also has its parts communicate efficiently with each other.

    Tech company Encycle adapted that communication approach and created a product called Swarm Logic. It is a system of small wireless controllers that communicate in bee/ant/fish-like fashion with one another to monitor building-wide energy usage, making adjustments where and when needed.

  • It turns out that bone growth lends itself to a series of algorithms that can determine lines of stress. These bone algorithms have direct application to airplane construction and helped engineers design those lightweight cabin partitions

  • Finally, if you have ever walked on attractiv inter-locking carpet tiles, you may not know this, but at one time the glue that held them together put out toxic fumes. By studying the way hairs interlock on a gecko’s foot, Benyus and her team figured out how a different interlocking system would eliminate the need entirely for that nasty, noxious glue.

Use Biomimicry Thinking to Solve Your Business Challenges

I discovered Benyus’s work in a recent BloombergBusinessWeek article and you can also see and listen to her on YouTube

Most likely, though, you are not designing energy efficiency systems, cabin partitions, or glue-less carpet tiles, but Janine’s metaphorical thinking is what caught my attention and has relevance for us. She basically follows the same 3 step thought process for her clients that you can follow to solve your problems in your world:

  1. Identify your problem (Dealing with a difficult client; positioning your product; overcoming a recurring objection; working with a limited budget; etc.)

  2. Then, look outside your problem to other worlds (sports, nature, media, politics, the arts, cooking, your client’s industry, other common life experiences, etc.) and ask yourself, Where is there an actual or conceptual parallel situation in that world to your problem?

  3. Then, think how can you adapt or translate that to your immediate problem?

As Janine notes, nature has had 3.8 billion years to figure out what works. The answer to so many design and strategy issues is out there, if we just look for it.
Similarly, the apt metaphor is out there for you in business as well. You just need to look for it.

Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors
 


Recent Political Metaphors in the News

  • How incredibly stupid was Bill Clinton’s meeting last week with Attorney General Loretta Lynch? More than one commentator called it an “unforced error” in a very important game where every move counts. Yes, indeed.
     
  • Another columnist writing about Trump’s economic proposals concluded, “Sorry, but adding a bit of China-bashing to a fundamentally anti-labor agenda does no more to make you a friend of workers than eating a taco bowl does to make you a friend of Latinos.

Build Your Team’s Creative Thinking Powers

Teach your team to dazzle clients, vaporize objections, close business, eliminate problems, streamline procedures and power up processes. Check out “Outrageous Thinking & Other Sales Wizardry,” the workshop that shows how to generate ideas on a regular basis.

“A plain iron bar is worth $5. If you make horseshoes from it, the value increases to $10. If you make needles, $3285. If watch springs,$250,000. Ergo, the difference between $5 and $250,000 is creativity.” Anonymous.


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"The best arguments
dazzle with metaphor"

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Media Commentator & Lawyer

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 "The Metaphor Minute" is a brief monthly note with examples from business, media, or politics that illustrate the power of metaphors and analogies to make a point, solve a problem, and get results. Use these stories to stimulate high pay-off metaphoric thinking in your business. © 2016. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©22016, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling," amiller@annemiller.com/span>
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