Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Fri 20 Apr

At April’s Innovation Day, we welcomed Dr. Jan Brown, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moore’s University. According to Dr. Brown, you should use the power of your business ecosystem to get the most from the interconnected and collaborative world we live in.

We are most familiar with the biological definition of an ecosystem, the community of plants and animals interacting with each other and their environment. This way of thinking was used, in the 1990s, to approach the way businesses interacted with one another, to provide a metaphor for understanding these relationships. In this respect, thinking in terms of ecosystems is not new.

Translating this into business today is a different story. Ecosystems include many actors and they all add value to the system. Who you include in the ecosystem can be adapted and changed over time. In contrast to the biological ecosystem, we have actively chosen to take part – or not take part – in it. The bigger questions are: Do people want to come together to share resources? Do we choose to collaborate or compete? Will the system shrink or grow?

So, where do we go from here?

The way organisations create and capture value in an ecosystem differs from traditional markets. Ask yourself these two questions: What can my organisation do to create value in ecosystems? And how does it capture the value they help to create within an ecosystem?

When we understand that we can actively create our own ecosystems, bring people together and collaborate in order to help everyone maximise value and innovate, the next step is to identify those who are connected to us. Choose who you want to be and who you want to include in your ecosystem.

There are different actors to look for: identify those making up your ecosystem.

Start small. Mapping your ecosystem and examining how value is created within it, will help you see how business ecosystems work. This system can then be expanded outside your organisation to start creating your own business ecosystem and start innovating and adding value.

Create value together. We need a plan of action to create innovation. Only then, according to Dr. Jan Brown, will we use the business model relevant in our system.

  1. Map the ecosystem.
  2. Explore and measure where value is being created.
  3. Decide which elements and connections in the business ecosystem need to be created, maintained, adapted and/or changed.
  4. Analyse in detail those elements of the ecosystem that need to be created, adapted and/or changed.
  5. Produce plans and select appropriate business models to aid changes.
  6. Review how adaptations and changes will change the whole ecosystem.

These are just some key highlights taken from April’s Innovation Day. Each month, clients of the Innovation Programmes receive a full ACT report, capturing the guest expert’s research, the implications and next steps for leaders to apply back in their team and organisation.

Next month, clients will explore the concept of ‘Goal Orientation’, a leadership technique for innovative thinking that involves rethinking the way you express a problem in order to take it apart and identify opportunities for action that engage audiences. For more information, please view the Innovation Day page.

Sources: Brown, J. (2018) ‘Create Value from the Ecosystem’, KnowledgeBrief Innovation Day Presentation, 11 April.

Ask yourself these two questions: What can my organisation do to create value in ecosystems? And how does it capture the value they help to create within an ecosystem?

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