Organizing within Networks of Collaborators

Our existing organization needs to envisage a changing world full of disruption that calls for radical change. To meet different challenges, to be highly adaptive it needs to begin to organize around ecosystems to deliver on a vision that recognizes it has to be part of a greater collaborating network to thrive in this highly connected world.

Today larger organizations are having to face a stark truth. Either they adapt or die. Technology offers them means for transformation, but can they, as leaders, take their people with them? They need bold leadership.

The structure of our business today cannot afford to try and stand alone, it needs to extend beyond its traditional supporting partners, it needs to learn to collaborate with a whole new range of partners, even some who were previously competitors, to radically adapt to the different world we live in.

Yet moving from the present position of offering specific products and services into a collaborating one, where they are part of an ecosystem of partners, that are ‘connecting experience’ as against discrete products building upon the delivering of totally different value propositions for the ultimate consumer, is a highly daunting challenge. It ‘upends’ much, if not all, of how our business organizations have been organized around, mostly within themselves, it is needing radical change. It calls for bold management to instigate such a transformation.

Today we do have this tantalizing prospect, full of innovation promise, well within our reach with today’s technology potential.

Ecosystems that produce ultimately new business models often rest on a large capacity for agility, openness, and mutual dependency, sharing and appreciating the values amongst a peer group that all relate to this ‘need for change’ and buys into that collective vision outlined.

An ecosystem that is made up of a broad, diverse group of partners, who all value each other and each can bring added value that has the combined potential to redefine new markets can be exciting and empowering. Network collaborators that work towards transforming current offerings within each of the participating organizations, each contributing their piece and working on a designated platform, pushing each other’s ‘edges’ of understanding, to radically alter the value proposition and deliver new customer experience. A tantalizing prospect, full of innovation.

Today we do have this tantalizing prospect, full of innovation promise, well within our reach with today’s technology potential. We are living in a connected, constantly adapting, world where networks and relationships are the essential wiring connections we all need to construct.

Adapting to collaboration & never being fully in control can be unnerving

In the past, we adapted to meet that specific requirement of that one dominant organization as they controlled the process, they dictated the value chain and determined the end result they felt was the right one. Not anymore.

Today you can argue differently; why what you see as needed is best not managed alone, it needs a collaborative effort, as the final arbitrator is the consumer and they have increasingly demanding needs. As any idea or concept evolves, the more you ‘flesh this out’, the idea changes by this fresh input, energy, and understanding, but it needs greater engagement and collaboration to meet these increased customer experience demands.

The Status Quo is history

The promise needs to be clear, it allows for far more breakthrough innovation, greater challenging of the existing status quo to gain that substantial competitive advantage, but it will constantly take organizations out of their existing comfort zones. It needs a very different level of focused leadership that see’s the real value of a connected future and is willing to drive through the changes this will take and the risks it can mean. The status quo offers no hiding place.

Setting about changing any status quo is tough, seeing something totally different, in a larger context and in a more sharing partnership calls for radical shifts in thinking. We have to develop those “sense and respond” capabilities, build a greater capacity to “read and react”, and then we need to “learn and leverage” what this all means in new potential by placing this into a context that has greater value than the existing ways.

The end result we are needing to deliver is increasingly calling for constructing innovating solutions in distinctly different, highly connected ways that are built from contributions from a broader ecosystem of vested parties, into solutions that offer really different, radical new customer experiences they really can value and meets their needs.

If we think ecosystems, we need to think differently

Think carefully through any move to join innovation ecosystems, they do have potentially a high, immensely attractive return if managed well, and highly valuable to the participants; yet they are nearly always disruptive to the existing markets and require immense focus and resourcing to make a transformation. Yet the prize can be a sustaining competitive position unable to be matched due to this ecosystem lock-in of vested parties.

I certainly believe the ecosystem approach will increasingly become the main value-producing stream for innovation delivery. Platforms, strategic partnerships, new business models all will be on the agenda of any serious global organization and ecosystems are the organizing environment to enact these.

Innovation ecosystems are clearly not for everyone but this type of innovation thinking around ecosystems and platform thinking will be a growing source of disruption across many, if not all, of our industries as well as the organizing means to tackle those complex societal problems needing radical solutions.

Welcome to the transforming world of Innovation Ecosystems

To this end, a new dedicated site discussing ecosystems, platforms and our need in forming seamless customer experiences has been created in a further collaboration with Jeffrey Phillips. The collaborating purpose is described here in this opening post that “innovation is not working anymore” and then Jeffrey picks up on the rising expectations of customers in “using ecosystems to build seamless experiences”  A further post on extending the seamless experience thinking  of “widen the aperture, narrow the focus” has just been published also.

A new innovation era is at hand and we all have the wish to understand it. Innovation ecosystems become essential.

By Paul Hobcraft

About the author

I simply enjoy researching innovation, applying this to provide novel solutions and advice, coaching and consulting to individuals, teams and organizations through my business, Agility Innovation Specialists. As an advisory business we aim to stimulate and deliver sound innovation practice, researching topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as align innovation specifically to organizations core capabilities.I write and contribute different views on innovation and its management through my own blog, paul4innovating.com and contribute into the different and leading providers of innovation knowledge.

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