I’m happy to present our new graphic blog series, featuring the six transformations of finance that form the core of The Nature of Investing. These ideas have emerged from the six sets of principles of biomimicry – the natural guides to life itself. When taken together, these six evolutions illuminate a path towards investing that is reconnected, resilient and regenerative, in service to life.
Our fourth transformation is FROM DISCONNECTED TO RECONNECTED, which reflects the natural concept of being locally attuned, of thriving in context.
In human systems, we are often concerned with consistency: Ray Kroc of McDonald’s often noted that he did not invent the hamburger, but he put in on the assembly line, because people wanted the same food, day after day, location after location. In that time and place, Kroc’s approach made sense: the highway system was enabling Americans to travel beyond their own local borders, an exciting but also daunting adventure. I can speak from experience: familiar food can be a great comfort when you’re exploring. I have never been as happy to see a Coke in the US as I have been in Malawi or Uganda or Cambodia. This disconnecting from local context can be a momentary comfort, but it’s a shaky foundation when it extends to a whole economic or social system.
More recently, we’ve begun to appreciate the quirks of the local, the customized, the not-assembly-line world. Even in airports – bastions of homogenized bad food – right there beside the frisbee-sized cinnamon buns, you can now find local barbecue in Austin, tortilla soup in LA, and clam chowder in Boston. Larger organizations have become more locally attuned as well, companies like Zappos investing in ever more interesting ways to their own hometowns, even as their businesses go global.
In natural systems and organisms, this sort of local attunement is not a newly rediscovered marketing idea, or a call for civic engagement; it’s deeply ingrained in both design and function. Organisms use locally available materials and energy sources, cultivate cooperative relationships with neighbors, leverage local cyclical processes, and effectively use feedback loops to keep the whole process linked together.
The Namib beetle is a popular example of how to be locally attuned, and for good reason. This insect thrives in a desert environment that is anything but hospitable by human standards, and it does so in part through some terrific engineering. The beetle raises up its shell when the fog sweeps over the desert at night, harvesting the moisture through an intricate combination of bumps and channels, which guide the water droplets straight to the beetle’s mouth. This design and process are specific to the creature and environment at hand: they do not translate across borders, do not offer a single blueprint for global domination, do not promise universal hydration… and that is exactly the point. They work in context.
If we incorporate this natural principle into our own decision making…
* With great thanks to the Guts and Glory team for the fantastic design work!