Learning from Giant Viruses

Recent events in the world, economy and health care challenge us to rethink old assumptions and to develop a repertoire of new business approaches. We can find inspiration by looking at viruses.

Conventional wisdom has long considered viruses to be nothing more than little bags of genes that randomly turn into self-replicating molecules by tapping into host cells' machinery to make more particles. As a result, viruses have not been widely recognized as living organisms.

Assumptions were first challenged by the discovery of giant viruses in the 1990s. The mimivirus, at more than 400 nm and 1,000 genes, redefined size and complexity. Most recently, as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the discovery of Marseillevirus redefines possibilities.

These giant viruses live within amoeba and adopt genes from a variety of origins, including bacteria, eukaryotes and other viruses, to improve their function. Because amoeba consume and contain a variety of particles and organisms, these giant viruses have access to more possibilities for genetic material and opportunities for "self-improvement."

In 2010, we would do well to challenge assumptions. Nothing we encounter is small or insignificant. Much like the inside of amoeba, our organizations are filled with a variety of possibilities. Let's adopt and assimilate small particles of inspiration, knowledge and experience to devise new approaches that improve our collective effectiveness. Interdependence can be contagious and bring new life to our organizations during these difficult times.

— Tom DeSanto

Sources: Science Daily, The Scientist.com, GiantVirus.org. Image: Science Daily

No comments: