Ecosystem Enabling Ways Of Organizing

Building blocks. We know they exist in the form of science and technology innovation, but they also exist in various geopolitical, economic, societal, philosophical, and environmental forces. It was 2014 when I read a report via John Hagel on combinations and disruption. Fast forward several years and discussions of composability have elevated to organization design. I recently moderated a CEO Roundtable titled “Envisioning Possible Futures.” In that discussion, enabling the edge of our organizations was discussed in an indirect manner. Without using the words, CEOs were challenging current command and control structures. I heard phrases like sense and respond for the first time in that type of leadership setting.

The driver of that dialog was the complexity and uncertainty of our world. The pandemic, extreme events, and recent geopolitical tensions have clearly changed perspectives. The characteristics of our times have historical precedent, but the speed at which change is occurring does not. As a result, new ways of thinking about operating in our current environment are emerging. Nicolas Colin, Cofounder and Director at The Family, has said that there is now more power outside than inside organizations. This dynamic has contributed to the rise of ecosystems. These forces and their visibility at leadership levels will drive a change in how we organize – both as a society and at the organization level. To deal with complexity and uncertainty, organizations must be viewed as composable building blocks that mimic the operating environment. As the possibility space expands (disruptors and opportunities) traditional hierarchical and command and control structures become increasingly irrelevant. This fundamental driver leads to a new way of organizing as described by the Boundaryless team.

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Why Ecosystems? Why Now?

For at least seven years, the concept of ecosystems has been discussed and defined in various ways, while sometimes applied in a context that dilutes its eventual impact. At the highest level, an ecosystem is a network of connected stakeholders interacting in ways that create and capture value for all participants. Why has this ecosystem phenomenon emerged now and why do people expect it to drive structural change? Once again, history may provide an answer.

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The Future Of Freight Transport

Our fascination with autonomous vehicles spans over ten years. Much of that time was focused on self-driving cars in our cities and highways. While that scenario has been slow to materialize, autonomous vehicles are emerging all around us in various applications. We see autonomy rolling out in agriculture, mining, and increasingly, logistics. The autonomous trucking trials happening in the southern region of the U.S. are a harbinger of things to come. The movement of freight however is not limited to our current roads. This recent article describes the future of freight transport – which may be heading underground.

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Ecosystem Leadership

In today’s world, the most effective CEOs recognize that no one is an island: no CEO, no company, no industry, no country. The lines have permanently blurred, and chief executives must embrace the opportunity to help shape our shared future — as enterprise leaders who are moving across and beyond — to influence entire ecosystems

Sarah Jensen Clayton, Tierney Remick, and Evelyn Orr -Today’s CEOs Don’t Just Lead Companies. They Lead Ecosystems

That quote from a recent HBR article speaks to a phenomenon that has been developing for some time in a synergistic relationship with a growing focus on purpose. I have covered the topic of ecosystems extensively across many years – the various posts can be found here. An ecosystem is a complex network of connected stakeholders interacting in ways that create and capture value for all ecosystem participants. Increasingly, that value addresses the various aspects of our well-being. This visual describes a cross-industry scenario that addresses human need in the context of wellness (click to enlarge).

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The Future Home

It is interesting to watch the patterns in which foresight questions emerge. I’ve seen periods where one specific domain is asked about more frequently than others, with the future of our homes currently a popular topic. The question is coming from multiple industries like construction, insurance, entertainment, healthcare, and banking. That’s not surprising given the horizontal nature of value creation and capture in the future. You may ask, what is there to talk about, the home has not changed much in a long time. However, a stop at the home section of the innovation wheel captures some of the changes coming to the home.

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Norway Embarks On A Floating Highway Project

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration is determined to create the world’s first floating highway. Coastal Highway Route E39 is projected to cut the 21 hour travel time between Norwegian cities by at least half through the elimination of seven different ferry crossings. The historic roadway project will cost more than $47 billion. The video below describes this ambitious project. 

Ecosystem Business Strategy

I recently added a book to my library titled Winning the Right Game. I then had the pleasure of talking to the book’s author, Dr. Ron Adner. He was gracious enough to sit for an interview, which you can view below. This ecosystem topic is growing in importance, but success in a growing ecosystem world is not easy. Dr. Adner provides his thoughts on what it takes to succeed. Anyone exploring ecosystem business strategies will benefit from his advice.

The Probability Of Living Past 110 Is On The Rise

I posed this question in 2018 in a post on healthy life extension: Has the first person to live to 200 already been born? I ask that question in various forums to provide a good example of how one scenario can challenge current institutions and traditional thinking. In that earlier post, Johnty Andersen, had this perspective on that question:

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Ecosystems Set To Redistribute $60 Trillion In Annual Revenue By 2025

In a post back in 2013, I focused on value ecosystems and how they would blur the lines between industries, making Industry constructs irrelevant in the future. At the time, I said the phenomenon would accelerate and companies would ultimately identify the relevant ecosystem(s) that enable their growth strategies. It was clear back then that ecosystems are complex, relationship-oriented, and represent future growth opportunities that are increasingly outside a company’s traditional business.

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Revisiting Experiences

So far, I have revisited Automation, Digital Transformation, and Autonomous Vehicles. This reflection on the past continues with a look at experiences. Back in 2013, as part of a series on digital transformation, I focused on what at the time I referred to as Next Generation Experiences. Back then, the issues of customer experience, customer-centricity, and customer intimacy were top-of-mind and dominated many executive discussions and conference agendas. I envisioned a next generation experience anchored in how customers think about it, not the way functional silos do. Those experiences would be delivered by the stakeholder ecosystem, requiring experience strategies to include all stakeholders whether internal or external.

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The Future Of Gas Stations

The electric vehicle drumbeat is intensifying as we hear more pronouncements about the end of gas-fueled vehicles. Practical realities will likely have their say on timing, but nonetheless, we must envision a future where electric vehicles rule the road. In that future, what becomes of gas stations? Here is a quick video that explores that question.

Nanobots To Improve Our Health and Someday Connect Our Minds

Nanotechnology is defined as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. Wikipedia had this to say about the field:


Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in nanomedicinenanoelectronicsbiomaterials energy production, and consumer products. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.


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COVID-19 Accelerates Innovation In Healthcare

We owe so much to the frontline heroes that serve society in critical times. The pandemic has shown us just how important and under-appreciated these individuals are. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Healthcare is one of those areas where we see both heroics and exposure. The lack of digital progress has been exposed across sectors by the virus. That is the bad news. The good news is that extreme events like this can serve as accelerants. This recent Article describes the turning point that COVID-19 likely represents for healthcare. Rethinking healthcare for the digital age should be a top priority (as it should across all industries).

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Dealing With Loneliness And Isolation

At a Milken Institute Health Summit in 2017, I participated in a panel discussion that focused on effective methods for healthier aging on a vast scale. One of the key discussion points was how Loneliness and Isolation were a leading cause of death among the elderly. Here in 2020, that concern has been amplified by the pandemic. During that panel discussion, I mentioned the use of companion robots to deal with this growing crisis. As society continues to age, the problem of isolation and loneliness grows more acute.

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Travel In A Post-Pandemic World

There was a lot going on in the world of travel prior to the pandemic. The emerging Mobility Ecosystem built on a foundation of innovation promises to disrupt this space as the decade progresses. The visual describes some of what lies ahead (click to view in a separate window).

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Strategy Looks Very Different In A Fast, Complex, And Uncertain World

In a recent Article, author Greg Satell describes strategy in a post-Digital world. Michael Porter positioned Competitive Advantage and dominating value chains as the foundation of strategy. Like many of our institutions and ideas, multiple forces are pushing that view into the dustbin of history. Two key forces are the shift to horizontal ecosystems versus vertical value chains, and technology cycles outpacing planning cycles. I have written extensively about Ecosystems and their impact on the value equation. Maximizing bargaining power among suppliers, customers, and new market entrants gives way to value-sharing scenarios where all participants in an ecosystem win.

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Flying Cars

We’ve been focused on flying cars since the Jetsons showed us the possibilities. With all the distractions of the last several months, it is easy to lose sight of the progress made on several innovation fronts. The flying car is no exception, as describes in this recent Article by Charlie Osborne. The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) industry is plowing ahead. A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is one that can hover, take off, and land vertically. Japan plans on sending these flying cars into the skies in three years. Per the article, Japan-based SkyDrive has developed a two-seater eVTOL vehicle currently at the testing stage. In addition to Japan, Uber, Boeing, Airbus, AeroMobil, and others are exploring the VTOL space. Flying taxis is one area of focus. A quote from SkyDrive captures it well:

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The Ecosystem Edge

I just finished another book and added it to my Book Library. Ecosystem Edge was written by Peter J. Williamson and Arnoud De Meyer. Ecosystem EdgeThe move towards ecosystems as an organizing principle for market activity has been a foundational piece of my research on the future of business. You can find that research here. The book goes into depth on the what, why, and how of ecosystems. Anyone looking for detailed guidance on how to execute in this ecosystem world, this is the book for you. Supported by several real-world examples, the authors explore the different aspects of succeeding in the ecosystem world. I highly recommend the book. The abstract is included below.

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The Intersection of Longevity and Finance

I have a fundamental belief that we will not solve the challenges ahead using the institutions and mechanisms of the past. These structures served us during a manufacturing era that looked very different than the world that has emerged in the last three decades. In a recent Article authored by Margaretta Colangelo, she provides an example of this phenomenon. In a time when populations are living much longer than previous generations, leaders are beginning to realize that institutions must be organized in a different way. Ms. Colangelo provides an example in the Finance space, stating that traditional banks weren’t designed to serve a large number of clients living a long time. Today, banks have a small number of clients who are over 100 and they are outliers. In the next decade that demographic will increase dramatically.

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The Future of Cars

Recently, someone shared a very interesting inforgraphic on the future of cars. I get these requests to share content on a regular basis, and I assess them based on their insight and potential value to my readers. This is an example of a very well done Infographic with a great deal of insight. Below is an introduction and the infographic. Enjoy!

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