The Shark’s Paintbrush – The English Version!

When Bill and I were discussing blog posts a couple weeks ago and he mentioned writing about The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how nature is Inspiring Innovation, I was extremely excited – First to hear that the book was in Mandarin so quickly, but also because this book is quite special to me.  I had known about Janine Benyus’ pinnacle book Biomimicry:  Innovation Inspired by Nature for a long time, but it wasn’t until I read Jay Harman’s book that I realized that Biomimicry didn’t have to be just an idea– I, and many others inspired by nature, can actualize these great ideas.  I’ve heard the phrase “Aha moment” quite a bit in Biomimicry (and elsewhere, but for me, seems to be quite prevalent in this niche, perhaps because there are so many great ideas and innovations at such a quick pace).  Reading The Shark’s Paintbrush was a great “Aha Moment” for me in that I realized I had to explore Biomimicry in a more formal way and use it as a tool to improve the destructive environmental trajectory we humans are currently on.

The Shark’s Paintbrush is a fascinating read for just about anyone interested in Biomimicry – from the seasoned scientist to your mother who wants to understand what you’re now up to professionally.  The book encompasses a notable array of fantastic examples sweeping across a wide range of disciplines, whilst peppered with humorous anecdotes of Harman’s personal experiences from working on fishing observation vessels in Australia to openly discussing some of his business failures in the U.S. and most importantly – the lessons learned from those.

I am a big fan of Naomi Klein and upon reading her books, specifically, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, I was left with a sinking, depressive feeling (both highly recommended, by the way – I know I sold those both very well).   The biggest takeaway I received from Naomi Klein’s anti-capitalist, anti-globalization books was this:  Big business and globalization is bad and completely trashes the environment and tramples human rights so that one can buy a $5 shirt at Old Navy.  After reading those some years ago, the notion of “business” left me a bit jaded.  I see businesses extracting and using natural resources, often times to the detriment of the environment and future generations and I want nothing to do with businesses….until I discovered two things:  1.  Corporations are so powerful that they are the ones that have the power to shift mindsets and alter “business-as-usual” and 2. Biomimicry as a tool.

Tom Toro CartoonCartoon by Tom Toro

It was during this time time of revelation for me, whilst reading The Shark’s Paintbrush, that I’m not reading something on the depressing and heavy side of business.  Rather, it’s quite inspiring and left me hopeful that Biomimicry is a great tool for businesses to use, not only to reduce the amount of materials or waste, but also ways to give back to nature.   In reading this book, Harman takes the reader on a trip to various locations meeting different organisms and their amazing functions and abilities along the way.  You’ll also be inspired by the biomimetic product innovations,  as well as corporations that have improved their organizational processes and systems by taking inspiration from nature, and are actively working to integrate nature into their bottom lines.

Happy reading, and if you have any particularly inspiring books to you – let us know!  We’d love to hear!

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