The power of ecosystem thinking

“Opening up our thinking towards ecosystems will have a powerful effect,
it alters the way we will approach problems today and in the future”

Our whole understanding of innovation is changing; we are evaluating and changing our existing focus from closed (internal orientation) into open and far more collaborative innovation (external orientation) with our collective thinking offering the acceleration into improving our innovation performances, leading to higher chances of achieving greater impact and success.

The search is seemingly on to find greater value, which will increasingly coalesce around different innovation ecosystems.  We need to form in many different ways significantly more relationships that increasingly matter to each organization, that add value, insight, and bring external expertise inside to work on ‘greater’ innovation solutions. We are creating the potential to deliver innovative products and services that would not be delivered by only having the one organization attempting it. Complexity is on the rise, offering discrete products is on the wane.

Firstly why are business ecosystems emerging as a real competitive force?

As we begin to open up our thinking and begin to focus on the concept of ecosystems, it will increasingly have a powerful effect on our future growth perspectives in considering alternatives and possibilities. The network of different partners will all contribute to this often ‘emergent’ thinking and quickly increase the total sum of the value.

The single industry and business-specific approach are seeing change; many companies are exploring the value of becoming involved in a business ecosystem that crosses a variety of industries to build new communities that have the capacity to transform existing environments.

One has to recall the “battle of devices has now become a war of building the better ecosystem.” It is not one single product that is chasing in crowded, highly competitive fields. We are looking to increase the share of minds, engagement, and increasing preferences reflecting these changing habits, tastes, and lifestyles. To plugin to achieve this ‘paradigm shift,’ the search is on forming the ecosystem or set of ecosystems that can deliver on this ‘transformation’ going on in front of our eyes.

The realization becomes one of embracing innovation ecosystems.

Today, this growing realization that thinking ecosystems allow for a new frame and mindset that taps into different and diverse relationships, partnerships, alliances, and collaborations unthinkable without the enablers to make these connections through technology and more open platforms where you can come together and collaborate.

The increasing value of participating in ecosystems allows for large and small organizations to create, scale, and serve markets in ways unimaginable previously. The ability to interact and co-create in increasingly sophisticated and novel ways opens up new opportunities. These ecosystems form a bond of shared interest, recognition, and purpose, which quickly becomes established as the new ‘commons’ in sharing and contributing.

So the challenge is for organizations to think differently.

Firstly thinking ecosystems allows for going out of normal scope, it allows you to open up your thinking to exploring the unimaginable of the past and transform this past ‘norm’ into the practice of your future. We see the most valuable companies emerging today are largely based on sophisticated platform business models where ecosystems are vital to their health.

There is a caveat to this need to change.

The more disruptive you seek to make your solution, the more the ecosystem must be shaped, changed, or simply created. Ecosystems are hard, demanding and complex work. If you comitt to having a ecosystem design, be ready to challenge everything and most probably you will end up changing everything!

Placing a new product in an existing ecosystem, or worse, ignoring the ecosystem and expected total solution means your product or service will have little impact and will become a commodity quickly. The “dependence” factor, the inter-relationship dependence is there as it builds around your basic concept, it builds the connected value.

Shaping or introducing a new ecosystem is not easy but transforms competition; it provides distinct competitive and customer propositions.  Also, by thinking ecosystems and platforms and equally developing the understanding of the seamless total solution that the customer expects, these necessary innovation ecosystems will emerge as innovation centers of the future. It ‘signals’ the amount of innovation that must be done on the product or service and on the channel, the business model, and on building and exploiting all the relationships within the network to make it distinctive and value. Innovation needs to move into this different connected era.

Ecosystems are powerful,if you are not so comfortable in what this would mean then there is no better opportunity to begin to find out

The future of managing will be through ecosystems and platforms

I am constantly drawn to ecosystems and platforms as the connecting mechanism that can drive the need for greater collaboration, sharing, and exchanging, and for this, we need to learn a new form of ’emerging’ management practice

Collaborating in collective ways helps break down complexity. To be ready to respond we must be ready to seek out unexpected outcomes, to be increasingly exposed to new opinions, experiences, and to learn from all those adjacencies and external connections, so as to help us add and define new potential within our domain of expertise.

In our past management practices, we have operated and exploited the linear world for ever-increasing efficiencies and effectiveness. This relied on stability, predictability, and a willing end-user, ready to accept ‘our’ offer of product or service. All three of these conditions are increasingly absent from our world today and will increasingly be challenged in the future.

Our increasing connectivity, brought about by our digital world is giving us increasing volume, richness at increasing speed. We are in a hyper-connected world, potentially global for all of us and increasingly we will operate in interdependent ecosystems that allow us to collaborate and share, driving up awareness and performance.

What will be rewarded in this connecting world is the agility to respond, the ability to absorb and learn quickly, and the nimbleness to translate and adapt new learning into insights and eventual outcomes, that build out our businesses, keeping them healthy, growing, and sustainable.

Classic models of management get broken down in any ecosystem approach, that is why I believe we must search for ways to adapt to this new world of ecosystem and platform collaboration.

It requires some very different management thinking, let me offer some thoughts:

Our world is shifting from scalable efficiency to scalable learning Continue reading

The ecosystem relationship of a rain forest is also how innovation can work effectively  

Firstly I would argue that innovation, to be managed well, needs to operate like an ecosystem, the same as a tropical rainforest.

Ecosystems to flourish need to experience critical feeds, in the rain forest this is high average temperatures and significant rainfall.

Well for innovation to thrive needs critical aspects; it needs a real focus, well above average and significant attention  to be well maintained and flourish.

We argue for diversity within our innovation teams, in our thinking, in our environment and that is no different from the high levels of biodiversity in tropical rain forests.

We need this ‘richness’ of thinking, of approaches, of discovery.  We search constantly for ideas, we experiment, and we are subjected to change. We are always looking for that certain something still undiscovered. Continue reading

What makes up a winning innovation ecosystem of design?

So what can be gained by adopting a more innovation ecosystem approach?

As we recognize and push out through more open networking and relationships, we are opening up to new learning. We sharpen our minds and attain smarter resources as this exposes ‘us’ to new fields of expertise and knowledge that we can absorb and translate into new innovation opportunities.

As we connect and integrate this learning, we are all becoming co-creators that can arrive at different defining and shape potential. By reaching out, we operate differently, we become more engaged and open.

Let me offer four connecting themes that are shifting our ways to operate and innovate that provide a far greater set of dynamics by ’embracing’ an ecosystem collaborative design approach.

Continue reading

The Evolving Platform Strategies in the Industrial Space

There is far more focus on the consumer platform market where Facebook, Alibaba, Google, etc. all get the publicity and consequential high valuations to their business models. Yet, the size of the Industrial Platform market will be bigger, perhaps not in “eyeballs” but far more in economic value and growth to those that commit to these changes by collaborating through a networked designed platform ecosystem.

Redesigning a specific industry space to adapt and adjust to a platform business model is hard work. The investment in years of building internal systems is rapidly becoming worrying “legacy” issues. The new way to perform in business is through open, collaborative networks of collaborators that achieve far more growth potential by participating in an ecosystem of partners.

Strategic Industrial relationships are radically changing Continue reading

Are innovation spillovers about to accelerate the course of the energy transformation?

Achieving clean energy technology innovations will be vital if we want to meet the goals of net-zero emissions in the next fifty years.

Innovation is central to the energy transition through new technology solutions.

Innovation can accelerate and achieve rapid reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases to anything near the net-zero goals set in the Paris Agreement of 2015 to hold the global average temperature to below 2oC of pre-industrial levels.

We need significant development and diffuse new technology solutions to displace existing energy assets to move towards a global economy based on clean energy.

As we look at any clean energy scenarios, it is highly reliant on moving concepts, through prototyping into a commercial demonstration. Presently many of the clean energy solutions rely on technologies that are present only in a prototype or early smaller demonstration-scale and will not come to a commercial scale without significant new R&D efforts.

There are also numerous concepts indicating promising technology solutions that have not been, as yet, commercially deployed in any mass-market way. Some scenarios looking out over the next thirty or more years are suggesting these critical technologies can make up to 75% of solving any cumulative CO2 emissions. Continue reading