“Flip-Thinking” and How it Could Apply to Birding and Conservation

We first heard about the new buzz word “flip-thinking” from an article by Daniel H. Pink, “Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US“.

Me flipping my cowboy hat

In essence, flip-thinking is taking a traditional, usual way of doing things and flipping it up to make it more worthwhile. Three examples Mr. Pink uses are:

  • A math teacher putting his lectures on YouTube for students to watch at home and working “homework” problems in class at school
  • The book publishing industry producing cheaper paperbacks first and then expensive, collector hardcover editions after the books become popular
  • Movies released as low-priced DVDs or streaming video and as popularity grows, bring them to the theaters

Basically, just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the most innovative or best way. This concept got us thinking: “Are there areas in birding and conservation that could use flip-thinking to drastically improve birding skills or the process land is conserved?”

One example would be to create or use a bird reporting function like eBird to only record species of special concern or regionally significant, especially for current, focused studies. This could use Citizen Scientists in a new manner and spark excitement among birders who crave the rarer, harder-to-find species. It may encourage more data collection since it is easier to submit a list of a handful of birds than it is a checklist of all the birds found in the field.

Perhaps a new bird identification guide that combines photos and illustrations into a collage that shows birds in almost every way possible. The artwork could include the habitat plus a range map and maybe wouldn’t even need any accompanying text at all other than the species name.

Bison to generate more conservation?
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

What about creating “conservation farms” that would produce consumable and profitable goods while benefiting wildlife and diversity? The profits from sales, entrance/usage fees, etc. could be used directly to purchase more land to restore/conserve and produce more goods. We see this working best with bison/prairie farms but could extend into other areas as well.

We’d love to hear what “standard” ways of birding and conserving land, big or small, could be turned about to maybe spark improvements in either. Please leave a comment below and share on Twitter, et all.

2 thoughts on ““Flip-Thinking” and How it Could Apply to Birding and Conservation

  1. Thanks for introducing me to “flip-thinking”. I have read similar concepts related to business. I might suggest to conservation-minded birders, that rather than pushing thru government channels to conserve areas, flip-think, and create strong relationships with private land-owners and land developers. (There are some organizations already doing this effectively) When approached as a friend, private enterprise is generally friendly and most reasonable human beings do care about keeping a beautiful world and sustainable ecosystem. When folks are forced by government to do something, animosity is easily generated.

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