Introduction to the Drucker Forum 2019
THE POWER OF ECOSYSTEMS
Managing in a Networked World
by Richard Straub
Ecosystems are everywhere, not confined to natural environments — increasingly, we see businesses,
public sector institutions, and third-sector organizations all moving beyond their traditional
operational borders and creating or participating in new, flexible, and adaptive networks of enterprises
jointly pursuing ambitious purposes. There are the ecosystems of developers that have been
mobilized by powerful tech firms such as Microsoft and Apple; the innovation clusters embedded
in certain geographic ecosystems; and the legions of lean, agile organizations that have proliferated
as large infrastructure builders provide robust platforms. Long before these recent developments,
Peter Drucker recognized that complementary organizations and institutions together make
up a „social ecology“— a complex adaptive system that is new and man-made – in which entities
of all sizes and strategies interact and operate in an increasingly fast-changing and complex
environment. In today’s digitally-enabled markets, Drucker’s concept of a social, business ecology
has become a full-blown reality. With a new “nervous system” – provided by digital networks and
increasing machine intelligence, pioneering players such as Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, and
Google — as well as long-established companies such as BMW, Haier, Novo Nordisk, and Rio Tinto —
are engaging in the new leadership imperative to leverage sprawling commercial ecosystems.
The 11th Drucker Forum will enlighten and equip leaders across economic sectors facing the
growing opportunities and challenges of business ecosystems. Discussions will address key
questions such as
- Under what conditions do generative business ecosystems emerge?
Must they be cultivated or can they be designed?
- What are the characteristics of the various types of business ecosystems?
- How pervasive are they – are they replacing traditional forms of business configuration?
- What role for the state as regulator and/or facilitator of ecosystems?
- How do these ecosystems influence the way companies shape their own organization?
- How are competitive dynamics changing and what is the impact on strategy development and
- What type of leadership competencies are required in these new fluid and interactive environments?
- Which new management concepts and tools help us to cope with this new complex and fast
- What governance mechanisms emerge in business ecosystems?
- What is the impact of advanced digital technologies such as AI, Machine Learning and Internet of
Things on business ecosystems?