Skip to content

The power of ecosystems

Business_ecosystems_blog

The Harvard Business Review launched a series of articles related to the 11thGlobal Peter Drucker Forum with the theme “The Power of Ecosystems.”

Ecosystems are omnipresent, not confined to natural environments. Increasingly, we see businesses, public sector institutions, and third-sector organisations all moving beyond their traditional operational borders. They create and participate in new, flexible, and adaptive networks of enterprises while jointly pursuing ambitious purposes.

Long before these recent developments, Peter Drucker recognised that complementary organisations and institutions together make up a “social ecology.” In other words, a complex adaptive system that is new and man-made. Within this system, 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.

In his article, The Power of Ecosystems, published in the Global Focus magazine, Richard Straub argues: “As we struggle to make sense of these developments, the concepts of ecology and ecosystems can be doubly helpful. First, they give us a new means of plotting what is happening to organisations and industries as technology dissolves traditional boundaries and forges new links between them.

Second, the biological metaphor opens up new avenues for both understanding business as a dynamic, evolving force in society and reframing our thinking about management, replacing the mechanistic, Newtonian assumptions that have long dominated. In this view, organisations regain their long-suppressed identity as evolving human organisms rather than engineered machines. The implications for management education, research and development are profound.”

Get inspired and explore aspects of ecosystems through the specially written articles published on HBR online.

Richard Straub opens the series of articles with What Management Needs to Become in an Era of Ecosystems, where he focuses on what the era of ecosystems means for the practice of management. It is undeniable that leaders must adjust their approaches to fit an ecosystems world to better succeed in it. What leadership styles will be effective in getting other aligned and making the system work better?

Whitey Johnson focuses on the learning ecosystem in Your Organization Needs a Learning Ecosystem. Whitney Johnson states: “Like a biological system, organisations are either growing or they’re dying. And organisations grow when their employees are learning.” How to promote the symbiotic learning relationship between an employee and an organisation?

Julian Birkinshaw, in Ecosystem Businesses Are Changing the Rules of Strategy, clarifying that ecosystems as such have long been around and the idea is therefore not unfamiliar. The author specifies: “What’s changed is that most of today’s fastest-growing companies are explicitlypositioning themselves as ecosystem players, as hubs within networks of customers, suppliers, and producers of complementary services.” In her article, you will discover different strategy rules companies play by and grasp the differences between those companies who are building moats and those who are operating turnstiles.

Peter Williamson and Arnaud De Meyer claim that “More companies are starting to recognize that developing a vibrant ecosystem of partners across industries is essential for accelerating innovation and withstanding disruption.” In their article How to Monetize a Business Ecosystem, they go on to explain that it is not enough to get a business ecosystem up and running but you also need a way to sustainably monetize it.

Delve into the articles and discuss further at the 11thGlobal Peter Drucker Forum – “the place to be” when it comes to the important questions of leadership and management of our time.