Last week while traveling on a long flight home from Ukraine, I struck up a conversation with my neighbor on the plane. At some point after I had described what our company does, its current projects, and what I thought makes us special, I got the question: "Interesting, what's the name of your company?" I replied, "Darwin's Grove," and my neighbor immediately asked, "What's that mean?" I realized that despite having what we think is an effective, focused strategy, exciting capabilities, and some good progress this year, we might not be making the connection clear.
So let me explain. First, I want to say what our name does not mean. For us, it's not about applying Darwin's theory where it need not be applied. For example, it's not about jumping from an explanation for the evolution of biological life (involving natural selection, competition, etc.) straight into explanations for social phenomena or economic systems simply because they too are complex. This does Darwin's work a disservice.
Rather, we think that Darwin's ideas do serve us in our work in behavioral analytics, marketing, finance, and strategy. In all of those, behavior, our minds, our consciousness, even our spirit (and even spirituality, which inevitably my neighbor and I on the plane touched on--it was an 11-hour flight!), does run on some substrate--our brains. And the continued furthering of the fundamental understandings of how we can better understand behavior will likely follow at least in part from simply taking more of a stance like that of Charles Darwin himself--that is, asking, "what could a brain be for from an evolutionary perspective, and how did evolution deliver it?" For example by understanding how the brains stores models and how it recognizes patterns, we are able to develop software that mimics these natural processes in tools that serve our clients in marketing and business strategy.
Let me share a few references which inspired us to create our services. Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained and later Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life together seem to provide some of the clearest, most thoughtful, science-based approaches to the big problem of consciousness. And more recently, Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee's On Intelligence walks readers right through the process of how evolution "treats us" to the powers we have to date to discover models in life. If by chance you've read these authors and see these connections too, feel free to check in!
We certainly don't go as far as these two (and many other great researchers) on the academic or scientific fronts, but their work significantly informs ours, and applying their work to the problems we look at continues to produce interesting opportunies for our clients. Darwin's Grove it is.
What's in a name?
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