Biomimicry Framework for Health Care Decisions Using Question Formulation Technique

Emily Navarette
5 min readNov 12, 2018
Figure 1. Termites working together image courtesy of

The Question Formulation Technique

While reading an article about questioning methodology, I found a fairly simple technique created by the Right Question Institute in Massachusetts. I feel that a simple representation can often times be more efficient when understanding a concept and attempting to break the concept down. The Question Formulation Technique allows people to easily create a focus to build questions off of, then organize and order the questions. The steps are as follows:

  1. Question focus
  2. Rules for producing questions
  3. Producing questions
  4. Categorizing questions
  5. Prioritizing questions
  6. Next steps
  7. Reflections
Figure 2. Questions Formulation Technique courtesy of Emily Navarette made in Plectica

If one utilizes this questioning framework in relation to Biomimicry to answer questions that are faced every day in the health care field what would it look like?

What is Biomimicry?

Figure 3. image courtesy of

In short, Biomimicry is finding inspiration in nature to create innovative advances in technology and in the resources we use in order to make our world more sustainable. We are looking to nature to guide us in resolving the problems of today in the least harmful way possible. We are finally looking to the experts to teach us their ways.

Health Care and QFT

So following the questioning methodology, we can find a prominent issue in health care that can use Biomimicry to possibly solve the issue.

“We can expect to see more companies looking to these ancient success stories for insight into everything from self-management, collaborative teamwork and distributed leadership, to collective intelligence and swarm creativity.”

  1. Question Focus
Figure 4. Royal Blackburn Hospital image courtesy of

2. Rules for Producing Questions

The rules for producing questions are as follows:

  • Ask as many questions as you can
  • Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any questions
  • Write down every question exactly as it is stated
  • Change any statement into a question

3. Producing Questions

Figure 5. Producing Questions courtesy of Emily Navarette made in Plectica

In the image above, I have isolated myself to just looking at the image and basing the questions purely on what is seen in the image. Although some of the questions are drawn from experiences that have been related to me through friends and family members, none of the questions are guaranteed to be answered. Which is not the point of the exercise. The point of the exercise is to use a questioning methodology to work into a framework that could possibly provide a solution. Often times in the realm of health care some of these more minor issues are overlooked and lead to a larger issue. Asking questions can ensure that feedback is requested and accepted.

4. Improving the Questions

Figure 6. Improving Questions Prioritizing Questions courtesy of Emily Navarette made in Plectica

In this portion of the methodology, I went through and wrote the advantages and disadvantages of open-ended and closed-ended questions, then I made all the closed-ended questions open-ended questions instead and vise versa.

5. Prioritizing Questions

Figure 7. Prioritizing Questions courtesy of Emily Navarette made in Plectica

I chose to prioritize the questions based on groupings to fit my framework. While these are basic questions, the framework I want to build them into is the going to be based in Biomimicry. By asking “What is happening here?”, “Are there enough people to help with all the tasks allocated?”, and “How can we make this setting more organized and efficient?” I can utilize Biomimicry in terms of ‘superorganisms’.

6. Next Steps

Now we are able to look to nature to figure out what ancient frameworks have been put in place to help with the health care setting. This ensures that everyone is aware of what is going on and communication is occurring between departments, there are enough people allocated to each department to manage all tasks necessary, and that the setting is running in the most organized fashion and as efficiently as possible. To help with this we can look to the ‘superorganisms’. We are all familiar with the analogy of the cog in the wheel. Essentially, everyone has a role to play and when one ‘cog’ is not operating correctly the whole wheel goes down. The same is true of most work places, but especially true of the health care work place.

Think back to the Question Focus. The image there shows a scene of various health care workers working on various tasks. It looks a bit like organized chaos, but to the patient that just walked in with a stab wound it may look like something else completely. There are multiple people working on the computers while also on the telephones. There are workers and patients in the image. There are several different devices being used. Overall, there is a lot happening in the image. So how can we look to ‘superorganisms’ for innovative ways to maintain the wheel?

‘Superorganisms’ operate just like the wheel. One will not survive without the whole colony. Think about a doctor who just took blood work and sent it to the lab for results, but what if the lab tech is not in and the results are delayed? Colonies are designed with many diverse individuals, but all are working toward a common goal. Analyzing how these ‘superorganisms’ work may be the answer to success in ensuring that the common goal is met.

When we think of the questions above, we must consider how we can gain feedback that is honest and how that feedback can be used to better serve the whole workplace and ultimately serve the patients.

“Together, the colony is intelligent, agile, resilient and innovative — everything we’d like our global organizations to be.”

7. Reflection

By reworking the way that the health care field is ran, we can ensure communication, task management, organization and efficiency. Colonies operate without a hierarchy and without a leader, everyone knows that the common goals is what they are working toward and therefore they must all commit to the overall needs of everyone rather than just the needs of one individual. The colony works from the bottom-up approach, which truly focuses on the work being done and making sure that the goals are being met.