We are in need of a profound shift in the Business landscape. Our growth remains constrained by not just the economic conditions we find ourselves in but also because we are failing to make innovation central to change. It remains for most the incremental pathway to steady performance and safe returns.
Yet the world continues to be volatile, the consumer increasingly disgruntled and our political world continues to be turned upside down. Business needs to move from being part of the problem, into the pioneering and leading the solutions for growth. Surprisingly it does have the potential for a winning design ‘to hand’ – by managing within innovation ecosystems.
What makes up a winning innovation ecosystem of design?
Let me offer four connecting themes that are shifting the dynamics to ’embrace’ ecosystem design.
- I always thought business was about seeking growth out, establishing new competitive positions yet this seems not the same today, we need to get back to this positive attitude in what we do. Business is trying to steer a safe course, to actually “hold course” but the storms of change are actually where they are heading with this approach. The need for transformation and disruption beckon as technology and the digital need are forcing a very different world upon us, of platforms and ecosystems. It is becoming easier to build and rapidly scale a business, to get access to money and investment if the business model shows real emerging potential. Many entrepreneurs are investing their time and energy into hyper challenges, ready to cut across boundaries, traditions and accepted practices. Today’s winning design is full of speed, scale, and scope, connecting into sharing this with the customers and different partners by combining forces and solutions that provide connecting experience. There is a need to face up to change not simply just ignoring it, and that requires ’embracing’ transformation.
- Inside most of our organizations, there is a need to liberate the potential. Employee’s hunger to tackle difficult problems, if only they were given more encouragement and resource to explore and connect ideas and turn them into winning solutions. We are needing to push more progressive ways to manage innovation in its design and thinking and unleash this ‘latent’ energy by tasking them to break down these problems into ‘boxes of emerging understanding’ that then can be recombined, explored and validated to show a different pathway and business model design. We can combine and share far more today as we have the collaborating tools to do the job and the visual thinking techniques to break out of the existing mindsets.
- We have a very different evolving set of enterprise capability emerging. We are working increasingly in value webs where resources are far more fluid in their makeup. We are more flexible (or should be) in moving our limited resources to tackle the pressing problems and then disperse into new shapes to tackle the next one. These new adaptive infrastructures are growing in the nimbleness and navigation skills, more agile, iterative, constantly experimenting and focused on execution and learning quickly to adapt and adjust to this new understanding. The emphasis is on the speed of development, constantly experimenting, exploring and validating, constantly checking on what is contributing to value creation and improved experience.
- The shifting of critical capabilities can allow a higher level of freedom to explore, of creativity and thinking. The combining of new connecting and networking skills, the collaborative tools and growing understanding of challenging the existing business models and orthodoxies is increasingly ‘on the table’ to move around differently. The understandings levels of empowerment are not just handed down they are sought out, based on delivery and collaborating. There is this understanding longevity and duration are under increasing pressure and it is ‘embracing’ diversity, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity are more dominating today in top of mind, so we simply “don’t freeze”, we need to explore and figure it out, are far better positions to manage increased volatility and uncertainty. It is less about clarifying the ‘essence of organizing’ and encouraging self-organizing, adaptive resources to ‘given’ situations or breaking opportunities and rapidly explore these in execution and new design delivery.
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.
We learn far more of “where to play”, “how to play” and more importantly “how to win”. The art of learning and exploring is recognizing the possibilities; we do get closer to harnessing creativity and latent intelligence. We develop greater critical thinking as we have more facts or we can find them quicker in tapping into our network, we can tackle complex problems with a diversity of connected minds, we can refine our judgment and decision-making on the experimentation and exploring we do and finally we can become far greater active listeners.
Innovation ecosystem design helps us move forward in purposeful ways.
The world seems to be evolving far more rapidly than we can cope with. We have this constant need to catch up. To become more effective we must break out of our ‘islands of knowledge’ and find ways to effectively work together, to pool resources. Thinking in more ecosystem ways offers that potential. We can build, evolve and catalyze better in collaborative designs. We can find better ways to create scale and service markets differently. We can push our boundaries into ones that look for more collaborative ways to construct a business.
We are in need to find different new ways to respond to increased customer demand for better seamless experiences. By working in deliberate ecosystems of innovation purpose we go way beyond the capacities of a single organization, we can attract in collective abilities to interact, learn from each other, adapt and evolve in more dynamic ways. Over time we find increasing strength in shared values, interests, goals, and building trust, it liberates us to act differently, in growing networks of understanding.
The value of opening up our thinking to innovation ecosystem design is in what resources get attracted. We can pull in resources of all sorts, we can draw in different types of capital (tangible and intangible), we can tap increasingly into a wider pool of specialized capabilities, attract different partners, suppliers, and customers to participate with us.
We can build out this cooperative set of networks as it becomes increasingly richer in the network of collaborators you can engage with. As you co-evolve you can develop the ongoing abilities to constantly reconfigure the assets to build the relationship needs and network effects.
Ecosystem thinking has a very transforming effect. It opens us up to a highly fluid, changing world of possibilities. It can help allow you to match and possibly get ahead of all the volatility swirling around us. We can develop strategies and innovations that can keep pace as we are connecting with a broader community.
I believe ecosystems are the new organism of the business world. We need to explore these increasingly in their design and management potential.