Thinking differently about Ecosystems

Thinking about ecosystems certainly allows us to go out of our normal scope of the possible invention by allowing us to push innovation and be creative to accelerate and extend our thinking well beyond just knowing as one, we connect to many and all the diversity of knowledge and understanding this can offer.

The ability to tackle those larger societal problems within an ecosystem, or combine unique resources to overcome a complex business challenge you are incapable of solving alone, does have greater potential in a collaborative adaptive system. Collaborating is the route to greater value and enhancing a shared objective, extending the scope and scale beyond just your borders or offering.

Ecosystem co-operations can allow you to align with others, totally outside your existing relationships, so you can enter new markets, explore new concepts and design, that would have been impossible as an individual organization.

Applying ecosystem thinking offers you the collaborative ability to extend beyond more traditional delivery channels, or being restricted to only utilizing your own existing infrastructure. It allows you to search and build on others that can add their specialization to build out that “greater” concept.

Merging tribes

We are all making greater connections within ourselves, as we find and connect, not just into our own “tribes” that all the different social platforms are providing, to establish our own personal identity.

Ecosystems built around specific platform designs are the future of innovation that takes designs and solutions into a new realm of opportunity, built on collaborative engagement and common missions. As we learn, we adapt, as we share, we grow but we do need to think ecosystems differently.

Measuring is different in applying ecosystem thinking.

To start, we need to measure far more in the following aspects as our starting point:

Linkages – content and productivity of relationships, alliances, collaborations, interactions, networks, clusters and all the complementary aspects and assets deployed to do this

Knowledge engagement – the ability to attract knowledge into the organization, through greater content and value, through the people involved and how we anchor and diffuse this new knowledge.

Intangible assets – increasingly people and the combination of their intellectual capital in knowledge, relationships and how they structure work will be the central focal point of innovation success.

Creating new conditions for innovation and creative actions that are collaborative – we need to develop the ability to ‘sense and respond’ to shifts in markets,’ read and react’ as information and intelligence flow in from a broader knowledge bank of contributors.

Greater awareness of the opportunities These come from the collaborators within the ecosystem but also cover a much wider awareness of the different competition. Evaluating and discussing these changes needs a highly collaborative environment in ‘real-time’ and we will become far more reliant on data and analytics for this. Open minds and frank exchanges give a greater dynamism.

Connecting those five critical aspects becomes vital.

As we learn to collect all this incoming knowledge (data-driven), this will then impact our own innovation programmes and require them to be more adaptive, dynamic and fluid. We need to recognize changing patterns, and then build in these reaction points to keep our own innovation activity staying ahead of the game.

Organising within Networks of Firms within multiple Ecosystems

The organization that envisages a changing world needs to organize around ecosystems to deliver on that vision to gain the leading influencer’s position by the ability to out-innovate and offer a product or service that gives a greater value ultimate buyer. The logic of the offering is rapidly appreciated due to its connective design.

Aligning partners on a platform needs-basis is very different from aligning them to just one organization’s needs. In the past, we adapted to meet that specific requirement of that one dominant organization as they controlled the process.

Today you can argue differently. What you see as needed is not the best and maybe different from first envisaged. It is better and evolutionary but demands more change and disruption internally. It allows for more breakthrough innovation, greater challenging of the existing status quo, and often taking organizations out of their existing comfort zones.

As we think ecosystems, we need to think differently.

Think carefully through any move to join innovation ecosystems. They do have a high, immensely attractive return, if managed well; they are nearly always disruptive to the existing markets and highly valuable to the participants. There also is a big ‘but’ here, since the pathway to get to that ‘success point’ is full of potential risk and immense ‘spent’ energy.

I will go into many of the risks and barriers in future posts but in the meantime…………

You need to get into a position to experiment, test, exploit, and explore limited ways to learn and adapt. It is even more dramatic in change than moving from closed to open innovation, it will challenge much that was only recently established to be radically redesigned and altered again.

There is so much to explore and build around ecosystem design and the thinking that needs to go into this. It is exciting to explore, learn and attempt to translate into the future innovation designs we need, built on highly collaborative concepts. Still, it needs a growing understanding of its potential, downsides and its more than likely disruptive nature to your existing systems of managing.

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