Innovation Inspired by Nature
designboom has a great article that explores the concept of biomimicry. It's the study of nature's designs, and learning how to copy and apply them to human design challenges. The operating idea is that instead of re-inventing the wheel every time, designers should refer to nature, and it's billions of years of history for inspiration. Chances are, that somewhere in nature, there's a process or structure that can be applied to whatever you are trying to make.
designboom explains “the design spiral”: