Rafe Sagarin - The writer, philosopher and marine biologist

Taking his cue from the biological systems he studies, Rafe Sagarin, who will speak at IdeaFestival 2013, describes how nature differs from individual expertise when it comes to problem solving.

Step one: don't be so sure that you understand the problem.

That more perspectives you can bring in, which could be represented in nature as multiple... ways to solve an unknown problem, the more likely you are to be able to deal with whatever it turns out that problem [is].

Oriented toward survival in the singular and perpetuation on the whole, nature is marvelously resilient because it is adaptable. In human affairs that means the help you seek just might enter through the side door. Yes, of course! Expertise and accomplishment should be applauded, but it can often benefit from a perspective other than its own.

So don't be the hedgehog.

In a sad parenthetical, Sagarin also describes how the trained volunteers on hand to attend to the exhausted runners in the Boston Marathon supplied the necessary expertise to deal with an entirely unforeseen event.