What are Business Ecosystems? And why would anyone write two books on Business Ecosystems?
Complexity and Business Ecosystems
Complexity has always fascinated me. Why are things complex? How does this complexity arise? How does complexity affect behaviour? What can one do about it? The business world is teeming with complexity in action. It has not only been my professional playground, but also an expansive lab for exploring these questions, together with some very clever and dedicated practitioners, who helped me learn along the way.
Over the years, however, I've grown increasingly uneasy with the prevailing "winner-takes-all" approach to business. While efficient on the surface, this model promotes a myopic focus on immediate gains at the expense of long-term sustainability. It fuels an economic polarity where companies strive to seize more than they require, often side-lining innovation that can't be immediately monetized. Ultimately, this approach paves the way for a few giants to monopolize the marketplace, answering only to their bottom lines and ignoring not just their consumers, but also broader societal and environmental implications.
What has struck me most is that this is not a problem of individual values or capabilities. I've engaged with numerous leaders and team members across various organizations who are well-intentioned, intelligent, and aware. These are not people who wish to perpetuate an unsustainable system; rather, they are caught in a paradigm they didn't create but must navigate. I, too, am a product of this very model.
Business Ecosystems - An Alternative Framework
This led me to explore alternative frameworks and it is here that I discovered the promise of "business ecosystems thinking." This alternative model helps champion the concept of "collaborative co-existence," potentially offering a more adaptive, equitable, and sustainable path especially valuable in today's increasingly complex business landscapes. While it is, of course, not a panacea for all of the challenges we face, I do feel a sense of obligation to kickstart this important discourse.
Business ecosystems, still a nascent yet rapidly evolving field, have far-reaching implications—from reshaping single firms to transforming economies and, potentially, our entire society. It made sense to me to start where the impact is most immediate and tangible: at the level of the individual firm. In doing so, I wanted to equip practitioners with the insights and tools they need to operate more effectively within this new paradigm, with the hope that this change ripples upwards and outwards to benefit all stakeholders.
When you're navigating the uncharted waters of complex Business Ecosystems, every map you have can feel inadequate. In my years as an international coach and consultant, this sense of 'navigational uncertainty' was something I encountered time and again. It wasn't a lack of competence or maturity that left businesses feeling stranded, but a lack of awareness and understanding of how business ecosystems function, evolve, and impact them.
Bridging the Gap with Books
The books—'Business Ecosystems Handbook' and 'Business Climate Change'—were born from the necessity to bridge this gap. While the former is a technical, rigorous guide aimed at practitioners, the latter narrates the journey of an executive team grappling with the vagaries of business ecosystems. The two complement each other—in a sense, the Handbook provides the 'what and how,' and 'Business Climate Change' provides the 'why.'
The dual approach of the books caters to different audiences—senior executives get a conceptual overview from 'Business Climate Change,' while practitioners get an actionable roadmap from 'Business Ecosystems Handbook.' It’s this inclusivity that makes the books unique.
By writing these books, I'm inviting you to join me in exploring a framework that offers not just growth, but balanced and responsible growth, for a future where business complements, rather than exploits, the ecosystems it relies upon.
Both these books are available as Kindle Editions on Amazon. The Kindle app is free and available on most devices including laptops, tablets and phones.
These links are to the US site, but the books are available from your local site too.
What Drove Me
The Coach in Me: My prime motivation as a coach is the development of people. I've found that even the most sophisticated tools are ineffective if they are not aligned with an understanding of human behaviour, motivation, and culture. The books offer actionable insights that can be applied at the human level—how to lead teams effectively, how to instigate cultural shifts, and how to mentor clients and colleagues in an ecosystem-aware manner.
The Consultant in Me: As someone who has worked at the intersection of business and technology, it’s clear that business problems can rarely be solved by technology alone—or by business acumen alone, for that matter. The complex problems we face today demand a blend of both, aligned with a deep understanding of the business ecosystems in which a company operates. 'Business Ecosystems Handbook,' in particular, dives deep into this cross-section, offering strategies that weave both worlds seamlessly.
The Academic in Me: Holding a PhD in complex knowledge-intensive business processes and a Masters in finance, it was important for me to build a robust, scientific foundation for my observations and recommendations. Both books are rigorously researched, drawing from a vast body of literature, case studies, and my own experiences. This academic rigor ensures that the books aren’t just another opinion piece but are backed by empirical evidence and rigorous analysis.
What Lies Ahead
It's not just about penning down a couple of books; it's about starting a dialogue, a dialogue that I believe is essential for the sustainability and success of modern enterprises. I hope that these books serve as a launchpad for that dialogue, sparking conversations that are as diverse and interconnected as the ecosystems they aim to understand.
In beginning that conversation I am writing a 10-part blog series on understanding business ecosystems, which provides a step-by-step insight into this complex topic. This will be followed by another blog series that explores the implications of business ecosystems beyond the firm.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. It's far from over, and it's more exciting than ever.