Photo by Paul Nicklen, who documents the Arctic to share his view of a ferocious but fragile Ecosystem.

Ecosystems have become an important topic for business leaders. The pace of change in contemporary business environments means that the creation of value and decision making cannot be centralized. This is particularly true when it comes to innovation. If leaders want to build a sustainable growth engine for the company, they need to create the right conditions for the best ideas to get picked up. 

The 2020’s call for ecosystem thinking

On January 14th, I attended the 10th edition of ‘De TrendRede’, a great initiative of Dutch future thinkers in which trendwatcher Christine Boland also called out to ‘think in ecosystems’. From the reflections of these futurists it became clear that a movement is emerging from ‘control over’ to ‘attention for’ and from ‘grip’ to ‘understanding'. There is room for experiment and human dimension. The linear hierarchical system gradually transforms itself into a circular and holistic one. The circle is the shape of the 2020’s : The policy circle, the network circle, the round chain from production to recycling. Management is a core support function that ensures that people find each other, so that everyone can make a contribution.

Ecosystem explained

A business ecosystem is the idea that a business - like any animal - is part of a broader system. Like in any biological system, businesses “co-evolve”. They benefit from the existence of other businesses. In a business ecosystem, companies co-evolve capabilities around a new innovation: they work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations. In effect, the business ecosystem consists of a network of interlinked companies that dynamically interact with each other through competition and cooperation to grow sales and survive. Still an abstract idea? Some examples of ecosystem co-creations are:

WordPress: The ecosystem benefits from having a network of hundreds of thousands developers who build plugins and themes to help users create websites.

Etsy or eBay: Marketplaces manage an ecosystem of buyers and suppliers. Suppliers benefit from tools and distribution channels that help them sell products and services. Buyers benefit from the breadth of the catalogue or the curation that the marketplace provides.

The High Line: This project helped develop a local area in Manhattan, NYC. It turned an outside railway into green space. The park attracts now thousands of people every weekend. This constant flow of people has encouraged entrepreneurs to build coffee shops, stores, residential buildings, etc. Each store or café is likely to attract even more people. The growth of ecosystem contributes to the economic development of the area.

Why it matters for your business. 

Being a part of a business ecosystem provides mechanisms to leverage technology, achieve excellence in research and business competence and compete effectively against other companies. It includes all the organizations that can help you:

  • Create awareness of specific needs and desires
  • Reach new customers
  • Build new products and services
  • Make operating a business easier and cheaper
  • Work with regulators
  • Educate your audience
  • Hire the right talent :-)

If you want to build a sustainable growth engine for your company, you need to create the right conditions for the best ideas to get picked up. For the fashion and luxury industry, this ecosystem approach to innovation, leveraging talent both inside and outside of the company, is the best way to respond to a competitive, ever-changing environment and to push sustainable models further.

How ISRID Agency contributes

Even with the best in-house talent and innovation process, companies cannot come up with the best ideas on their own. That’s why a complete innovation ecosystem requires collaboration with external innovators. This is where my agency, expertise and network comes in to be an orchestrator of tailor-designed ecosystems supporting and innovating the business of fashion. For more than 25 years, ISRID Agency has been dedicated to mapping, selecting, growing and empowering an international network of companies in and around the fashion, design, lifestyle and beauty industry. This network includes producers and makers, distributors, governments, educational institutes ( academies), media, tech-hubs, e-com marketplaces, thinkers, artists, designers and the list goes on and on.  Now, the real value lies not in being connected, known and trusted by all these individual people and businesses but to create a space where they can meet and work together! For that my mission is to interlink my network and to be the agency, orchestrator and impresario of an ecosystem that is thought to help companies understand how to thrive in this rapidly changing environment and to help innovate our industry. But I cannot and do not want to do it alone....

Join me in my next steps and mission?

Mid 2019 I grew my international reach and eco-system by participating as a partner in Bellwether Culture: A New York - Amsterdam global connecting agency and business hub ( read: ecosystem ) focussing on bringing folks and brands together and pushing culture forward. Bellwether Culture is offering endless options to businesses for activations and cross industry integration. Our partners together own a wealth of knowledge and innovative ideas in a wide range of business matters and we are so excited to see these come alive and how we are able to think, work and act remotely as a team.

I also took on developing an ecosystem business idea myself by interlinking education ( talent and students from the fashion and design realm ) to companies. Nót for the usual internships, but to design and manage innovation and change projects together - students and businesses - in order to accelerate the learning process for both parties and to effectively collaborate and share insights, skills, expertise, and knowledge. Enabling companies to be part of this ecosystem and for ISRID Agency to advise and assist them on projects as well as in selecting and assigning the relevant 'candidate' to spark and manage the project and students, that would make me so thankful, humble and proud!

Please reach out to me if you have ideas to spark my business-education mission, want to contribute to and participate in an ecosystem project or just want to learn more. I am happy to connect (with) you!

Sources:

Investopedia

Guerric

Harvard Business Review

De Trendrede

ISRID is an owner-run agency for access to talent, recruitment and change consultancy, serving an exclusive and high-quality portfolio of clients in the fashion, lifestyle and luxury industry.

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