Ecosystems have become a really hot topic. As we gain the understanding of what a dual strategy approach to what our business could look like, you need to recognize what you still need control of, those you call your core assets. Yet at the same time, to explore and expand out more today we need to build better external collaborative approaches.
To achieve this reaching out and collaborating will require participating in platforms and building up your Ecosystem Management understanding.
The word “Ecosystem” is getting as much “air time” as the general use of the word “innovation” in business recently. It generates buzz, it projects the impression you are looking to the future, managing your business in that progressive, outward way, that shareholders and your employees love to here.
Well as we well only well know with innovation, if it does not align to strategy, integrate within the business activities, it stays a little out on one side. Also, innovation stays so often a necessity to “call upon” but not as your core focus of activity. That focus still is, sadly today focused on managing the assets for short-term performance, where the consistent focus is always on efficiency and effectiveness to “work or sweat those assets”. Maybe we might be seeing a change in ecosystem management design. More of the “assets” outsourced or in collaborative partnerships.
Well, Ecosystems are entering the lexicon of top management. It does sound good to talk about “building our ecosystem” in every possible way. You need to ask though, has management actually sat down and defined the type of ecosystem it wants to design, to participate in, or become part of. Or do this simply happen, a sort of drifting into, a grand experiment, as if that made real progressive sense? Let’s take a different approach
What if the CEO and the board decided to open up the discussion around the future pathway, one of managing within a federation of ecosystems.
Building the internal rationale- the open letter to all our employees.
I really think we have not yet ( in many cases) built a connected rationale for managing in Ecosystems.
What if you provided a document to all your employees that states a clear belief and direction you feel “our” business is heading towards, would that not make sense? For instance, some opening statements might go like this:
From the CEO and the Board to all within our company and all our stakeholders
We are evaluating and changing our existing focus from closed (internal orientation) into ones that are having a far more open stance. We are searching for more collaborative innovation (external orientation) combining external partners into more ‘collective thinking’. We are exploring the concept of Ecosystems and their value.
- This shift to an Ecosystem Design we believe may be offering us extra acceleration that is needed to improve our innovation performances from concept to market delivery. It can help us to grow our business in new, radically different ways. We see potential in moving from our existing core through growing our alliances and networks to produce greater product solutions, ones that connect far more with the customer’s needs through the greater use of technology and the power of connection.
- Collaborative innovation is also leading us to higher chances of achieving greater impact and success, as nearly all novel ideas lay outside the organization’s domain of understanding. As we increasingly include the customer and their needs within our understanding, these multiple collaborations and dialogues are building this better internal understanding.
- By recognizing we are not sole owners of knowledge but are in a world of distributed knowledge, we seek to encourage new dialogues, new avenues and new sources of collaboration. This is not just to leverage the internal expertise we have, but to compliment it and challenge it, in new innovative ways, to lead to a new range of market and product opportunities that are radically different and exciting to deliver.
- We know we are constantly moving away from managing in linear innovation processes and making these more adaptive, constantly looping back when new information or data as it is being discovered, increasing this knowledge and insight in highly dynamic, constantly evolving and informing ways. We need to accelerate this in imaginative and novel ways.
- We wish to form more valuable external relationships in multiple and different ways as this will simply increase our access to diversity. This greater diversity does matter to each organization for building different competitive positions in our future approaches to go about business in wider areas of scope.
- We are creating the potential to deliver innovative products and services through new business models that would not have been enabled by only having the one organization attempting it. Collaborations are significantly adding value into the innovation equation, offering greater options to explore in the future.
- Also, we are seeing complexity rising significantly. The search for finding greater value is shifting even further, increasingly forming around innovation ecosystems, loose federations of vested interest, forming and dispersing when the job is complete. Sharing in risk and returns at a faster pace.
- Our innovation exploration will become far more evolutionary and requires a completely different way to think and manage these ‘relationship contract’s’ that are forming around a given concept of platform engagements.
- We will need to learn how to be far more co-operative, open and agile, a new adaptive thinking. As we tap into all the expertise up and down and along the value chain we will become far more aware and will need to explore all the depth in thinking, contributing and making available through extending our connections in deeper and broader ways.
- Knowing how to adjust, accommodate and shift our thinking requires us to become more agile, a more “fluid organization, finding new ways of connecting and working.
Today there is growing realization that thinking ecosystems can allow us to have a new framing of possibilities, to offer us an exposure to alter our mindsets. One that taps into different and diverse relationships, partnerships, alliances, and collaborations. This was unthinkable until recently, without the enablers to make these connections through technology and more open platforms where you can come together and collaborate. We need to exploit this connecting world fully to extract the best in solutions.
The increasing value of participating in ecosystems allows for large and small organizations to create, scale and serve markets, in ways unthought-of, 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, of recognition and purpose, which quickly becomes established as the new ‘commons’ in sharing and contributing internally.
We need to understand all of this, we are on a learning journey, one that does excite us but also challenges us. As we begin to open up our thinking around the concept of ecosystems, we believe it will increasingly having a powerful effect on our future growth perspectives. One where a network of different partners will all contribute to this often ‘emergent’ thinking to increase the total sum of the value. We look towards achieving a greater “value creation” from this.
For us to get to this new thinking around Ecosystems we need to re-think our future design for new partnerships across and external to the business
Let us ask some really open questions here, we are beginning to work upon so you are aware and can help:
- We need to evolve and find the answers to this new ecosystem thinking and perhaps countless other design questions that emerge as we embark on a change of this nature as it becomes highly collaborative.
- This will demand us to become “ecosystem ready”. So what does that mean?
- We need to rethink our corporate and deal relating strategy. We need new ways to evaluate, model and place valuation on what we want to engage upon. This will require a different due diligence.
- We also need to think about what we can offer and what we believe is our future market offering and potential. This will change our present thinking around intellectual property, about data exchanges, security, and privacy
- It will call upon all of us to think about how to change, to adjust, to highlight gaps we might have and the different types of talent we need to bring into the business.
- What will change in our operations, in our planning, in our response rates?
- How do we maintain our reputation but also go out and build this in new, more exciting ways that attract our shareholders and stakeholders to relate and invest in our business
- Risk management, controls, and governance all need a different more responsive and robust framework for us to form relationships, with less fear, greater guidelines. We need to encourage a greater culture to experiment, to explore, to learn and engage
- We need to seek out knowledge and bring this back inside the company so we can all internally grow with a collaborative network.
- When you spend your energies on ‘control’ you want to manage this within your own environment. When we “step out” and work alongside others in a network of ecosystems we have to find ways to simply “let go” but still account and report in ways that do not place what we have at risk. Managing this is not going to be easy but ways can be found, are our belief and commitment.
All of these require a shift in resources, in capital allocation, in planning, in cultural adaptive ways. We need to become more fluid, less rigid, we need to become more responsive, curious and dynamic.
It does call for a very different way we will be going to manage the business in the future. We have some answers that encourage us to recommend and pursue this journey. This journey of being far more aware and participative in a different thriving ecosystem made up of multiple collaborators, One where connecting networks and thriving relationships can evolve. W should choose to walk this path together.
I ask for your help. As your CEO, along with my fellow board members, we will want to spend some time discussing this with you all. It is a transforming step but it offers a new way of managing. We will need to equally learn from you, wanting your contribution and questions. We are all learning as it opens up a completely different way to work and manage our business, in highly collaborative ways. In some cases, there are no easy answers and we will not have immediate answers but “we” will find them together.
Will you join me on this journey where managing and collaborating within ecosystems as it will be offering us something that can be summed up as radical and exciting? One where we believe will provide us greater belief in building a sustainable future, where we adjust, respond and change in a demanding, very changing faster world we all are part of today. ”
So what if a CEO sat down and thought through this? They would get an awful lot closer to raising their own awareness of what Ecosystem does mean for them and their future thinking. Let alone it gives a meaning that can be shared as it can provide out to their organization a clear statement of where they believe they should be heading towards, that greater collaborative ecosystem design. It is through the use of platforms to support these, provides new options and generates the real purpose of opening the whole organization up to change. Offering a new meaning for growing the business.
This “statement of intent” would begin to frame the transformation required for moving towards that ecosystem need many C-Level Executives are starting to talk about but are they really clear on much of what this will mean? I doubt it. If you can begin to see some answers from this “open letter” then you are on your way to managing in an Ecosystem Designed Way.