Watching the evening news and it should be no surprise the world around us is increasingly changing and is becoming too complex to fit in a system we as humankind still can control.  We have to learn and adapt much faster solving our epic challenges. The Agile Mindset and methodologies are an important mainstay here. Adding some principles from nature makes it even more awesome.

In organizations, in our lives, we are in a constant battle “beating the system”.  Steering the economy, nature, life.  We’re fighting against it, and becoming less and less successful in it.  What should change here?

First, we could start to let go the things we can’t control and fully trust the system we live in: Nature. It’s the ultimate Agile System, continuously learning and adapting to changing environments.  But how?

We have created planes and boats by observing how nature did it: Biomimetics.  In my job as an Agile Innovation consultant, I’m using these and other related principles:

  1. Innovation engages in lots of experimentation: life creates success models through making mistakes, survival of the fittest.
  2. Continuously improve by feedback loops.
  3. Use only the energy you need. Work smart and effective.
  4. Fit form to function. Function is primary important to esthetics.
  5. Recycle: Resources are limited, (re)use them smart.
  6. Encourage cooperation.
  7. Positivity is an important source of energy, like sunlight can be for nature.
  8. Aim for diversity. For example, diverse problem solvers working together can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
  9. Demand local expertise, to be aware of the need of local differences.
  10. Create a safe environment to experiment. Like Facebook is able to release functionality every hour for a small group of users.
  11. Outperform frequently to gain endurance and to stay fit.
  12. Reduce complexity by minimizing the number of materials and tools.For example, 96% of life on this planet is made up of six types of atoms: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Sulphur

How to kickstart your start-up?

Until a couple of years ago,  innovative tools were only available for financial powerful companies.  Now, innovative tools like 3D printing and the Internet of Things are accessible for everybody.  The same applies for Agile.  This enables you to enter new markets against extreme low marginal costs.  In these start-ups you can recognize elements of natural agility.  A brilliant example is Joe Justice’ WikiSpeed. In less than 3 months he succeeded in building a 100 Mile/Gallon street legal car defeating companies like Tesla.  This all shows you can solve apparently impossible challenges by trusting on your natural common sense.  It's that simple.

Paul Takken (Xebia) and Joe Justice (Scrum inc.) are currently working together on several global initiatives coaching governments and large enterprises in reinventing themselves how they can anticipate on today's epic challenges.  This is done by a smarter use of people’s talents, tooling, materials and Agile- and Lean principles as mentioned above.