Mapping our Innovation Future through Ecosystems and Platform Design

Why do we need a new innovation architecture?

We are witnessing a very radical change, driven by technology, increasingly disrupting and breaking down the past traditional boundaries and market positions of many incumbant organizations. Mostly these were built so as to defend positions to achieve and maintain economic scale. There is a new economic logic to build even greater scale through technology design, it involves greater complexity, yet its value proposition is to strive towards offering greater customer experience and satisfaction. The solutions are valued far higher, in social and economic value. We need to recognize this is a new business model design with the arrival of engagement platforms that connect all the ecosystem of partners in its design, to gain this scale and value.

A new economic logic that get closer to the connected customer expectations and daily needs for innovative solutions to solve, in ways far better than that are being presently being offered. Connecting technology, digital and human understanding brings radically different soutions. A different innovative design has become paramount to these new offerings, so they can be capitalized upon, releasing this increased value creation understanding of opportunities.

The market dynamics are also changing; we are seeing greater disruption and blurring of traditional boundaries of competition, yet the reality is that innovation systems, structures and processes are badly lagging, in design and approach, to react and respond to this new dynamic. A dynamic where the start up can undermind the established encumbant, mostly large organizations that are less nimble and agile, in radically different and dramatic ways, in short time frames, from pilot, testing to scaling those solutions, moving them from local to global through the power of technology applications.

Certainly, we have seen innovation thinking advancing but most of its processes, systems, and structures have been designed for a different time, the old era of stable markets, predictable solutions and having a clear sense of your competition. All that has changed dramatically.

We have all been trying (very hard) to stay relevant in an ever-increasing uncertain world, applying solutions left over from a past era. Something has had to suffer and I believe this is our innovation outcomes, that are not shifting the growth needle as we keep our innovation systems and thinking trapped in the 20th-century mindset.

We need to bring innovation and its process up to date. With cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, cloud-based solutions, purposefully designed apps and specific tools and frameworks, we do need to begin to stretch our imaginations further and flex our technology and app solutions more towards providing a better, more connected innovation process. I want to see a new innovation era happen.

Everything has suddenly become more dynamic and this has enabled the pace of innovation to speed up for exploiting breaking opportunities. Technology has enabled a business to scale up quickly, partly due to risk-sharing in technology exploitation and partly in these exploratory forms of partnerships. Collaborative insights have enabled businesses to explore spaces that were previously unable to be unlocked, without this greater collaboration and diversity in (solution) competencies. The business landscape has opened up, providing the potential to explore very different value opportunities.

Each of us has a part to play in how we redesign our thinking around innovation.

It is the sum of all the emerging parts that will build the new design. What is essential is to challenge much of the existing and replace it. We have this constant need to “refresh, rebuild and redesign” many of those innovation parts to keep turning theory learned through experiemention into practice gained from emerging practices that are leading edge.

It is until we recognize that a large part of our present innovation struggle to date is that innovation remains hard to manage well, constantly and in a repeating fashion; we strive to systematize it and then attempt to replicate any success we then have, so as to achieve more, to repeat and extract efficiencies, yet more often than not we fail.

We do not take into account all the variables that came together for that one particular winning outcome. Often this does not work on a repetitive basis as the variables that make up each innovation can be so different, they are unique for each innovation event or activity. Yet we can learn under a growing ‘range of’ differentiating capabilities but it is this need to be more adaptive, fluid and being adept each time, change the innovation system we know today. One that is designed for the uniqueness of each opportunity.

We need to radically alter our thinking and redesign innovation. It is not predictable, it is based on being inherently unpredictable and we have to design our innovation systems and structures for this. Constantly adapting, agile and highly responsive to new knowledge and insights flowing in, in greater dynamic ways.

Ecosystems and Platforms are our pathways to a new innovation future

Ecosystems have suddenly become of age, as they can be formed around common concepts fairly rapidly, they can enable cross-cutting innovation to be delivered in highly collaborative ways. They can, through shared platforms achieve a closer relationship with the customer, to understand their needs and experience through increased collaboration, and engagement.

Connecting and collaborating opportunities for business seem to be really powerful networks of value-adding effect, for finding new economic opportunity. This calls for some radical rethinking of the existing business and deciding the design of the future business.  This calls for thinking through a different designed structure for the business and different skills needed. The shifting from the current state to the future designed state is no easy task. It requires a radical redesign of the organization, as it significantly increases complexity and where any digital transformation has to center upon as the critical enabler to enable this shift.

It is identifying the critical capabilities and being adept and agile enough in learning from these, to embed them into the changing culture. There is a critical need to be technology savvy, digitally adroit, highly analytical and fast to make the connections, to explore and exploit the ‘breaking’ opportunities. We are having to adjust our learning to have increased levels of higher human-centered approaches, through exploiting design thinking, to learn and adapt.

Design thinking can provide a different thinking-through perspective to manage in more complex environments, break down barriers and overcome new hurdles to deliver new economic value. New economic value has to be ‘seen’ and believed in, so people can engage and work towards making the necessary changes. We are in need of exploring new ways to think, to empower and explore. so as to push and extend the business ecosystem design. It needs to be both highly human and digital centric.

We are attempting to integrate into new ways the increasing needs and capacities of people, to capitalize on a myriad of choices with technology options and find new ways for business success. The approach needs to work around that of being viable, desirable and feasible, as the new value combination for new innovation, one that design thinking contributes into. We are actually forging far more ‘upstream’ and trying to reverse the ‘downstream’ many of today’s business find themselves in, to regain real value propositions that can offer a more sustainable business future.

In the future, we need to build on different thinking: innovation ecosystem thinking

We have today built-in too many constraints. They are holding us back. Boards and Senior Management have a lack of time, as they are often too busy, focusing on the day-to-day they have precious little time to think about the future. They remain extremely nervous when they do not have clear lines of insight to make what they see as riskier decisions. Finally, they are struggling with their present organizational design to adjust and adapt to the changing external world, full of uncertainties. To dither, to put decisions off, to seek out more certainty is not a position of any strength, it is the catalyst to eventual destruction. We need to face these inbuilt constraints.We need to change our mindsets.

It is finding uniqueness that becomes increasingly important and comes from new knowledge, innovation investigation, validation, and outcomes and delivered in business ecosystems that offer new customer value, it builds greater value into capital. It is the amount of capital you invest that drives the potential and today, we are increasingly finding that Ecosystems and Platforms, formed around ideas that are often too complex to be developed by a single entity, are benefiting through collaborative endeavors.

Ecosystem thinking can have a very transforming effect. It opens us up to a highly fluid, changing world of possibilities full of interactions, sharing, and exchange. It can help allow you to match and possibly get ahead of all the volatility swirling around us. We can develop strategies built on emerging knowledge and innovations, that can grow out from a collaborating community.

The traditional confines of market boundaries are clearly breaking down and reforming around these ecosystems and platforms that connect partners and consumers in dramatically different. It is these Value-added ways, and that ‘intent’ is driving a radically different environment to manage within, one of building knowledge ecosystems, innovation ecosystems and business ecosystems that connect up and form the interconnected parts of the required ecosystem design.


As I have suggested before the value of breaking down long-standing boundaries is occurring with or without you. Yet we do need to consciously shape this. Barriers are dissolving as more recognize the need and value of coalescing around a networked ecosystem. The chances for greater, more radical innovation to grow the business comes from exploring mutual opportunities to capture new economic value.

As you open yourself up to collaborating you open yourself up for greater learning and from this you can reshape your business design to adjust to this changing reality we are finding within a business; the need for designing our separate entities of business into a connected set of business ecosystems, to offer greater growth.

I believe ecosystems are the new organism of the business world to catalyze innovation. We need to consciously design these in new ways.







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