Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To Celebrate Maria Sibylla's Birthday: Leaning from Nature


Google today celebrates 366th anniversary of Maria Sibylla Merian 's birthday with the gift of the Google Doodle. She was one of the world's first entomologists, the 17th century artist and naturalist was captured by butterflies and other pupal insects.

What makes Maria special, not only was she an accomplished artist, but she was also an excellent naturalist and a bold explorer, and her ability to well mix science and art. Merian's pictures of insects were the first to depict all the different life stages and the chrysalis for each species on its particular food plant. Merian has since been recognized as one of the most talented and influential scientific illustrators of her day and beyond.

Sure, today, business world becomes so overwhelming, but nature is as fresh as three hundreds years ago, amazing creatures make the world and life special, a little insects continue to teach us numerous lessons:  

  • Butterfly’s Transformation Journey 

Merian described many details of the evolution and lifecycle of the insects she observed. She could, for example, show that each stage of the change from caterpillar to butterfly depended on a small number of plants for its nourishment. Her studies prompted her aforementioned caterpillar book, for which she is most well known and respected.

 Business world also faces many transformation today, the leadership transformation, digital transformation, global transformation, what butterfly teaches us is about planning, dedication and timing.

  • Bee’s Pollination 

Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees.

Business’s innovation management just like Bee’s pollination process, tends the garden, encourage and nurture innovative communication cross-organization.  


  • Dragonfly’s Excellent Vision 

Despite human’s visual color range, there is a creature with even greater scope; the dragonfly. Dragonflies (and bees) have the largest compound eyes of any insect; each containing up to 30,000 facets, All dragonfly species have excellent vision. Each compound eye is comprised of several thousand elements known as facets or ommatidia. Day-flying dragonfly species have four or five different opsins, allowing them to see colors that are beyond human visual capabilities, such as ultraviolet (UV) light. Together, these thousands of ommatidia produce a mosaic of “pictures” but how this visual mosaic is integrated in the insect brain is still not known.

For many organizations today, business vision need be shaped via collective wisdom, without vision, strategy loses its focus, and execution has no direction to go, only multi-facet and multi-dimensional vision with full spectrum of color can create a mosaic business picture to create synergy for the team.

Maria Sibylla Merian created an incredible merger of science and art with her tireless study & work, shall we all follow her footsteps, and learn how to view the world with cross-disciplinary lens?


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