Making the case for Ecosystem thinking

Business is certainly changing

Credit Tatiana Plakhova @ complexitygraphics.com

Regretfully many businesses are still caught in the change over from the past industrial era, we have not fully absorbed or translated the impact of the digital effect. The rising expectations from technology are ‘running way ahead’ of our ability to transform the organizations to be digitally ready.

We are in need of finding and developing environments that are far more connected and open, simple yet intelligent to reduce complexity, yet fast and scalable as the frequency and collaboration needs are changing, all placing increased demands on the organization.

With the consistent onslaught of social media, the potential of cloud computing and the increasing reliance on the mobile or smartphone, the pressure is on organizations to adapt and respond accordingly. The consumer expectations are dramatically shifting to expecting these connected experiences we have written about, they are seeking higher levels of personal gratification.

Everything is about “getting connected”.

Working in Ecosystems will change the nature of business activities

Ecosystems will have the potential to expand capabilities and enable experiences beyond anything possible today in the present ‘disconnected’ world, where technology is not playing a significant part. It is by the very nature of the interacting and interdependence in relationships that is driving this need of participating in an interconnected system.

We are all increasingly searching for designing new ways to do business, ones that are buildimng networks that are collectively finding, exchanging and looking to create and allocate new business value together. It is the need of acting together, that offers the potential for the outcomes to be greater than the sum of the individual parts and it will be technology driven.

Recognizing the significant changes underway let’s look at many parts of today’s environment that are coming together to make the conditions for a ‘perfect storm’ that we have to navigate through.

Multiple elements are combining to drive change and get us all to consider Ecosystem designs as a solution to reduce complexity.
  • Business has a growing need for finding new competitive battle zones as they exhaust the traditional ones
  • There are these higher risks of disruption happening today, across all industry sectors
  • The scramble to scale and globalize is increasing the pressure for speed, adaptation, and new outlooks.
  • Customers are more sophisticated and demanding, expectations and empowerment are on the rise.
  • Customer experience is becoming more compelling, individualized and offering integrated experiences.
  • Digital transformation, big data analysis and the ubiquity of information is changing the knowledge game
  • Industry lines and conventions are blurring and merging through the need for technology and overhaul
  • Power is shifting from single company offerings into platform offerings, built on collaboration needs
  • The existing Business Model is increasingly under threat and shorter in its ‘shelf life’
  • Collaborative Needs are increasingly the basis for achieving competitive advantage
  • Reality is that every innovation and company is part of a broader, evolving ecosystem
  • Our futures are far more intertwined and dependent on others
  • Technology is leading us all in an unparalleled rate of change in most of what we do in our lives.
  • The reinventing of the rules of competition have dramatically opened up (startups, venture capital etc)
  • We all cannot navigate the future alone, we are becoming increasingly reliant and dependent.
  • Technology offers business greater access to intelligence that is fast and scalable
  • There is a shift in the economic equation to collaboration, transparency and customer engagement.

These shifts are altering the business environment and organizations have got to find solutions to address these, as these shifts are increasingly making the environment highly complex to navigate through. Ecosystem thinking holds a crucial key to managing this growing complexity, in radically connected ways.

Business Ecosystems are not new but they hold tremendous promise for innovation

Business Ecosystem thinking, although not new, is rapidly becoming the new organism to coalesce around to tackle growing complex challenges and a more demanding consumer. It has the mechanisms to encompass all necessary players to share and relate to the challenges and collectively work on solutions together, often in a growing world of complexity.

Thinking About Relationship and Network Management

By looking outside we open up. More and more demands are being placed on us via our customers, suppliers, our regulators and a host of other stakeholders all wanting to contribute into our existing knowledge. The ability to collaborate, to cooperate is coming by purposefully designing ecosystems and platforms

We struggle to adapt to these new external pressures as the more we engage outside we realize there are (often) stark differences in approaching problems. This adaptation demands a very different approach to anyone organizations structures, processes and systems. They need to adapt to and support these changes in working within an ecosystem designed one.

We all need to be more flexible, adaptable and agile so our resources grow their capacity to absorb and strengthen the competency and capability in new more dynamic ways. To design in ecosystem thinking needs a very different approach.

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Designing Ecosystems in Health Understanding

Understanding any health issue is complicated enough, in how a doctor works through the alternatives as a “pattern recognition” when someone sick seeks help.  The diagnostic process is a complex transition process that begins with the patient’s personal illness history to achieve a result that can be categorized so solutions can then be applied.

A patient consulting the doctor about his symptoms starts an intricate process that may label him, classify his illness, indicate certain specific treatments in preference to others, and put him in a prognostic category.

The outcome of the process is regarded as essential for effective treatment by both patient and doctor(1). It is seen as “the clustering of signs and their development over time is, in narrative theory, defined as the plot, with this plot, eventually becoming the diagnosis.

Taking health systems higher into whole health systems

When you take health systems higher, into a design of a whole health system, the complexity becomes a magnitude of order to sort out that is way up there, in a different league. We struggle to find ways to capture whole health systems, perhaps until now.

There are so many gaps in our health system, to the point we are often just plugging parts thinking they are improving the system.  Actually, the opposite is often true, we produce a ‘knock-on’ effect that depreciates the system to make it less effective progressively over time or in surprising sudden fashion. This progressive decline comes partly from not understanding the complete Health Ecosystem you are in. We need to think about designing Health Systems in Ecosystem ways.

It is argued our health systems are failing as they do not address the “whole” health ecosystem, as we only tend to treat part of the system. The doctor is looking to cure the immediate issue, applying solutions that are often grouped as generative but in his judgment applicable to your need.

The question we all face there are significant gaps as the system really is one-sided, it is looking for speedy outcomes, and to limit the cost. This is a solution-providers need but is it coving the patient’s side by delivering value in one that offers affective capacity. Affective here refers to the underlying affective experience of feeling, emotion, or mood, both in its physical and mental capacity to influence and produce lasting change but also to provide a better health system focused on outcomes that work for the system providers and the patients’ perspectives delivering value to both.

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Let’s Create and Rejuvenate with Ecosystems

Credit Tatiana Plakhova @ complexitygraphics.com

Ecosystems are under-deployed or even misunderstood in business. Ecosystems are certainly growing in our jargon to describe something we think we want to achieve, but we fail to recognize many of its functioning aspects or needs to realize it. It is being offered simply as a buzzword.

The business ecosystem is an important business model you can deploy if you are having higher levels of complexity and growing uncertainty, and let’s be honest who doesn’t today? It can also be a way to reach out and have engagement and traction (Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, etc.)

When you are in the pursuit of having the best highly coordinated and geared to optimize performance such as a global supply chain, it is the complexity and integration that needs governance and the utmost attention to the detail and the flows. These are brilliant to “shave” costs, time and are working in predictable market conditions. Continue reading

So are you considering a new platform business model? Good luck!

You cannot escape the discussions around platform business models. Recently I saw that 50% of all organizations are either investing or considering a new platform business model. In a report provided by the IBM Institute for Business Value, released last year called “The Incumbents Strike Back” they really encapsulated the survey work they undertook in four topics that tell a story of today, or it certainly should do.

What’s required, now more than ever, according to IBM, is the fortitude for perpetual reinvention and these four topics tell the story of why these are important:

Firstly we are all “dancing with disruption” and it is the reinventors that are finding the way to balance the existing with the designs of the future. This was described as a “balance between stability and dynamism” and exploring the forces at play.

Secondly, reinventors are placing their “trust in the journey” as they are investing in design thinking, testing the assumptions and re-orientating their organizations to engage with their customers to create deep bonds based on trust, the path to personalization.

Thirdly, the whole value is changing based on “orchestrating the future” where organizations scale differently their partner networks, reconsider their value propositions and allocate resources more on business platform designs.

Fourthly, there is a liberating for “innovation in motion” where constant experimentation, getting close to customers and delving deeper into ever-evolving ecosystems of dynamic teams and partnerships are transforming their landscape.

Two really important points for me in this short report was the pull of the platform business model shown in the visuals provided Continue reading

China and Asia for Ecosystem Dynamism

I was trying to capture the Asian dynamism in how they go about Ecosystem designs for their businesses.

The critical captures for me are based on three critical aspects to create this dynamism.

Firstly, in the social conditions within Asia and China for especially smart technology-led connected solutions.

Secondly, the ability of the solution provider in having the capabilities to push the boundaries, in regulatory change and technology innovations, and ‘impose’ radically different structures along the complete supply chain and have as their central focus the customer engagement processes, that delivers the solution needed in the quickest possible time, at the most economical and convenient cost, at increasing scale to drive down costs.

Thirdly having that significant engagement at the top of the organizations, in designing, directing and determining the outcomes and injecting the enthusiasm, drive, and passion for change and commitment.

I believe these three aspects are creating more dynamic ecosystem environments in Asia and especially China.

In Asia, it is a far more top-down but highly entrepreneurial mindset for those that have broken through and built real scale and really very big businesses on their platforms with the excellent technology and a sharp-minded approach to connecting up the ecosystem within the design and solutions. Continue reading