Octopus Adaptive Solutions

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The Octopus concept for adaptive solutions was introduced to the world by Rafe Sagarin in the following video:

We can learn how to improve our ability to adapt from the octopus! And, how offering CHALLENGES to people works better to facilitate solutions than making demands or putting too strict guidelines on the problem itself.

"I look at the 3.5 billion year history of life on Earth and I look for life secrets on how to be adaptable because every living thing has learned to survive and thrive in a complex and unpredictable world and that's exactly what we need to do in our society. Octopuses are just one example of how organisms adapt and they are a beautiful example of it because they use both their great intelligent brains but they also use a lot of very rapid adaptability that happens all over their bodies. So one of the things is the octopus is a decentralized problem solver. We tend to create a lot of centralized organizations that don't help us solve problems as quickly or efficiently as a decentralized mode. An octopus for example has skin cells all over its body that respond and change to the environment, and they change almost immediately without a lot of conference calls up and down to their brain. So it knows when to shut its brain off and let parts of it do their jobs to solve problems. Too often we just retreat into saying that there's just one expert or one leader who can solve this problem rather than relying on ALL of us to solve the challenges we face. The number one thing we need to do to activate EVERY aspect of adaptable systems that we see in nature is just switch from giving orders to issuing challenges. Usually we have an expert say this is what's best for all of you go do it. A challenge is when we say, we have a problem here, who among ALL of you can help us solve this problem? That sets off a system that works just like nature because EVERYONE gets in on the problem-solving and you get all kinds of decentralized, redundant, and symbiotic partnerships between problem-solvers just like in nature. Nature is a limitless source of inspiration for creativity and curiosity. Every time I go out there I see something new that makes me say, wait a second, what's going on here? And it makes me want to explore more." -- Rafe Sagarin (died May 28, 2015)

In Learning from the Octopus, ecologist and security expert Rafe Sagarin rethinks the seemingly intractable problem of security by drawing inspiration from a surprising source: nature. Biological organisms have been living—and thriving—on a risk-filled planet for billions of years. Remarkably, they have done it without planning, predicting, or trying to perfect their responses to complex threats. Rather, they simply adapt to solve the challenges they continually face. Rafe consulted with organizations large and small, public and private, as well as with individuals, on how to be adaptable. All of his lessons were pulled from the massive database of nature – a 3.5 billion year history of surviving and thriving in an uncertain and risk-filled world.

Learning from nature about how to be adaptable is an exciting and rewarding journey. You can start here with my Adaptable Solutions website.

Dr. Rafe Sagarin was an ecologist, writer, artist, and expert on adaptation. A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Dr. Sagarin consulted with organizations from the American Red Cross to the U.S. Department of Defense to marketing executives from the world's largest corporations, on how they can unleash the natural power of adaptability to survive and thrive in an unpredictable world. His innovative and interdisciplinary research has been published in journals as well as popular magazines. Dr. Sagarin has lectured and held research positions at the world's top universities including Stanford, Duke, UCLA and University of Arizona. His two recent books are Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorism, Natural Disasters, and Disease (Basic Books) and Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World (Island Press).


ARTICLE: Rafe Sagarin, who merged ecological thinking with national security, dies



KEYWORDS: Octopus, Adaptation, Rafe Sagarin, Decentralized, Decentralization, Symbiosis, Ed Ricketts, Marine Biologists