Rhino Strategy: Biomimicry as Inspiration for Product Design

two rhinos grazing with a bird perched on one of them

When I am not writing requirements, contributing blog posts, or working with design and engineering to bring Rutabaga to life, I am almost always outside. On my tenth anniversary of completing the Essentials in Biomimicry course, I want to share some of the principles of the discipline and dive deeper into ways rhinoceroses (like our mascot) can serve as inspiration in product design.

In 1997, Janine Benyus published Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature, in which she argues that the science of biomimicry—rooted in understanding nature as a model, measure, and mentor—can lead to innovations by reframing our relationship with nature from one of extraction to one of insight. It’s a cherished and well-read book on my bookshelf.

Biomimicry is as relevant as ever in the face of our changing climate. In Rutabaga’s case, we take inspiration from our mighty mascot, our chubby unicorn that is powerful, steadfast, and undeniably unique. How might we be inspired by rhinos and their impact when designing products?

Three ways rhinos can serve as inspiration in product design

#1: Rhinos shape their landscape, creating a micro-ecosystem at the same time.

As one of the larger animals in their ecosystem, rhinos play an important role through simply grazing. They shape the landscape around them, allowing for other animals to thrive in the same environment. Fun fact, Bison have this same effect in North American prairie lands. The weight of the animals can leave impressions on the land allowing little pools to form when it rains. This creates a micro-ecosystem for other living creatures. 

The Rutabaga platform shapes the insights landscape to benefit all roles in an organization. Gone are the days of digging through presentations on shared file storage systems. With Rutabaga, insights are at your fingertips.

#2: Rhinos uniquely distribute the pressure created by their weight.

Rhinos support their robust upper bodies with what some say are, “dainty little pigeon-toed feet.” The magic lies in how they distribute the pressure between the toes and the foot pads. This can serve as inspiration for engineers designing mechanisms for heavy load lifting. 

Rutabaga’s first platform release best supports qualitative research insights, which have often been criticized for having small, dare we say dainty, sample sizes. Yet, the breadth and depth of insights only qualitative research can deliver have an outsized impact on an organization’s strategy.

#3: Rhinos thrive, and enable others to thrive, through mutualistic relationships.

Rhinos have a mutualistic relationship with the Oxpecker. Oxpeckers warn rhinos, who have poor vision, of approaching predators. They also eat parasites and insects off rhinos’ skin, helping keep rhinos clean while ensuring their own sustenance. 

Rutabaga embraces mutualistic relationships, inviting agencies and consultancies to our channel partner ecosystem. We provide aligned incentives where our platform can be the primary delivery vehicle for their work, enabling unprecedented visibility into the impact of their insights.

Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration for me personally, and influences our approach at Rutabaga in product design and elsewhere. In honor of Earth Day, we invite you to seek inspiration from the natural world while remaining conscious of your impact on the world.

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