The early history of ecosystems was focused almost entirely on gathering communities of enthusiastic collaborators
The internet itself was developed by a community that far predated Tim Berners
The internet itself was developed by a community that far predated Tim Berners Lee's protocols that finally became the basis of the standard architecture.
For example, a twin set of conferences held annually in Los Vegas, called "Networld" and "Interop." Networld provided a gathering where those who wanted to contribute technology to the networking of computers brought their products to a kind of primitive trade-show. In the period before Networld would open each year, some of the most dedicated networking enthusiasts would gather to form a completely connected network of networks using each others products. The idea was experiment with whole networked solutions, to test which elements would actually work together and discover problems and resolve them. Overall the main point of the conference was to become a wildly exciting exercise each year that was an existence proof of new ways to use computing and networking.
What this simple example demonstrates is that a community of like-minded people, enthusiastic to create something together was the basis of the internet.
These creative people envisioned the co-evolution of disparate technologies into new combinations, ecological combinations, if you will, the provided new functions. These people developed variations of technologies, found ways to adapt them to each other, and selected the ensembles that were--in systems language--greater and more exciting, with more immediate and potential uses than the sum of their parts. In the process they invented most of the critical components, subsystems, the networked services and interconnected machines and people, and enabled demonstration of early applications.
The important point of this story is that the early enthusiasts were co-creators of the modularity and interoperability that have come to be hallmarks of more mature expressions of such ecosystems. The challenge they mostly focused on was the weaving together of disparate, not-quite-adequate threads of capability into a whole cloth that is interesting and exciting enough to motivate further work.
Indeed the essence of a new business ecosystem is to be this way, to require the creation of the parts as well as the wholes, to create the parts on the way to, and in relation to, the leading goals that define the vision of the whole.
While they were sometimes benefitted by pre-existing modularity, agreed upon interconnection formats, and technical standards--for the most part they were only guided by the vision of these as potential future benefits and as goals.
This new, comprehensive creation of a community of people invents and begins the process of regularizing and spread new combinations of customers and allies, organizations and new ways to join the fruits of science, technology, and culture into ensembles of capabilities that provide new experiences, new lifestyles, new forms of production and further innovation.
when we look at cases we see that the human side is a very importnt driver and enabler and creative inp[ut to the coevlutionary side, and that the coevoltionary side creates the surplus fundamentl valule, including among custojers (who tend to be featured in it. actually, maybe leave off the issue of practrice for now. to focus on the wider socidty lens at the bottom. yes.
how then do we discuss and study the enthusiast communities that start new ecosystems?
We suggest that they be considered as humans learning, individually and in communities and societies.
We suggest starting with thinking of learning in cycles of learning and doing.
these are broadly dewey. but there is also a kaffman version I think I recall. the pulling of possible into the actual, which changes the possible.
this is our rearlm
[now to go bacvk to the internet case.
This has a long history in micro-organizatonal behavior. In the work of kolb
As a contribution to this work we suggest the following grid. we use this, along with other recent writers, to distinguish distinct systems phenomena.. at the same time we also want to subseqently highlightr the connections.
Following recent scholars we also see a spectrum of studies that are anchored on one end by the human, culture, communications and organizational learning, as well as philosophical and spiritual side.
In the middle of the spectrum we find studies more focused on understanding the relationship of theory and practice in co-evolution. This group has received enormous stimulation from the interplay of stunning advances information technology, especially the combinations of data, sensors and artificial intelligence--and equally stunning advances in evolutionary biology, biochemistry and synthetic biology--as reflected for example in the recent advances in using messenger RNA to teach the body how to produce its own mimics of Covid-19 spike proteins, thus triggering its own immune response and essentially self-vaccination.
now add the adner level, io based.
consciousness and agency--individual, group. we want to create with others a rigorous approach, a science, toward a science of consciousness and agency. such that we can see how consciousness and knowledge are expressed in action, and then action is refleced upon and learned from.
in a previous era we understand that this might sound highly soft and value laden, but in our current era of human potential and diverse potentials, we think this is to the fore. we think the promise of putting vlues with coevolution with financial and directing power is powerful, for sure. and needed. we need the good people to understand money and power, too. and to use it in ways that undermine monopollsts.
t is also, we believe, the most important untapped area of management scholarship--and can also be used to shed light on people like zhang, and more important teach those who want to deal with these issues some ways to proceed to learn..
one aspect of our approach is to discuss with an executive his or her values, worldview and mindsets, and how these are expressed in actions including coaching of others, organization design, etc.
we discuss here one such situation, it is a case of management conscioiusness. we think this case will be of wide interest because of the unique content of the case, and the questions it raises, and raised for us.
hey Jim, mention those questions at each opportunity.
like Andy grove, warren east, etc. Jim henson.
this major worldwide company is also noted for its values based and philosophical approach to leadership.
a firm that leads practice and also invests in academic study and theory is Haier Group. It is an almost unique study subject, in that it has for more than a decade made itself systematically available for study by academics and practitioners, as well as managers from other organizational groups. It is widely regarded as among the most transparent of organizations.
we have studied mr zhang and have text and interviews as well as corresopnsing accounts of his associates and of the oranizston and the effectrs of his influence in organizaton design and in the perception of the person and in
Haier invests heavily in its own reflection of itself as an evolving creator of ecosystems. It's leaders have attempted to move up the learning curve of creating new ecosystems in a variety of domains, economic systems, and nations and cultures. They have worked at many scales, and in situations involving startups, the transformation of existing major businesses, and in mergers and acquisitions. To document and learn from these experiences they have created their own centers of research, centers of practice and ecosystem-based experimentation and development, and a center of philosophical and cybernetic studies.
For many years to Chairman and CEO of Haier Group, Zhang Ruimin, has given an annual message to members of the group, as well as to the world beyond. In addition to being broadcast and record, this event is typically attended by representatives of all of the Haier companies. It also includes invited in-person expert commenters and speakers, some from within the company and others from the world of academics and business scholarship. The meeting lasts for a long full day, and has a quality of being a high level public conversation among among well-prepared thinkers of organizations, leadership and economics.
Customarily the meeting is held in person somewhere in the world. Because of the worldwide pandemic the 2021 version of this event was held virtually, with a live, well-screened in-person audience and Haier's own speakers in attendance.
His 2021 talk was entitled A New Paradigm Reborn...in the fourth industrial revolution.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution of course refers to the current level of digitization, and to its profound penetration of and transformation of daily life and the world of business.
The ecosystem brand refers to Haier's focus on learning about learning about creating ecosystems.
Title of 2021 Presentation by CEO Zhang
the talk ranged from detailed case studies of ecosystems projects, to higher level theorizing.
from concrete to abstract and displayed ceo zhang use of philsophy and systems throughout. these are real principles he uses. we can show this about the circulation of vlaue.
three cycles of new paradigm of ecosytems
What we see here is his elaboration of key dynamics in each dimension
the through line of purpose was strikingly displayed
the through line of purpose and of philosophy. philosophy as giving great flexibility and awareness of choices.
in ecosystems we already differentiate between the through lines by sector or by startup, ec. scope and generic business purpose--perhaps coevolutionary purplose.
for mr. zhang that is important, but more imporant was a
through line of belief in people that relfects itself in the approach to peolpe and organiztoin design.
For example....describe how a job is set up in haier. as a reflectrion on a philosophy of people. and perhaps bring in here mr lliang and mr Nolan. and other interactions. at that scale..
we already have a great deal about varying purposes of ecosytems, of whata is similar and what is different and so on.
what we also need are differnt mindsets and paradigms. for example agile or not.
toaist or not
consumerist or not, apple the wealthyiest people on the planet, chinese the otehrs. and samsung. but boy apple has a kind of a thin lead, in our oppinon. just no one has targeteed the innovatoins in teh soft lane.
1. face to face person
2. person to things, making tacit, explicit, implicit knowledge, role of machines today, from toyota to all others. but still always edges.
3. team function me
4. ensembles emc
5. platform and agreements to smooth access and to open outside to inside groups. most now do sell outside.
6. open to also have new groups
7. experience me and prodution me.
section on the gaze on the person, and the design of rendanheyi. and then the through line of that with people at the top like lliang and Nolan and the guy in australia.
he spoke to the levels mangement action, and described the thourgh line for each.
One interesting business started in the past year by Haier is essentially a demonstration of this kind of ecosystem creating understanding and prowess.
(Peking Duck story)
the notion of transferable approaches to templating..
1. we believe there is a multi causal world
2. managers try to look at that world from mulltiplle vantage points and then engage it.
3. the philosophy of knowledge making is mostly pragmatism, it is what works, what does not work, what are the connundrums you face. then let us all dive into these problems, now seen as problematic, and attempt to see the dimensions that matter, and how the consideration of possible interventions and results of these together might make it possible to move forward with some reasonable assurance of progress or at least learning.
4. the history then of a learning project is a history of iterative comprehensive knowledge and of iterative development of real results and strucrtures and so forth. like me manking this paper.
relate the philsophy here back to the case of zhang.
epistemological versus ontological
relate to us and to mr zhang perhaps (mn, Jim)
we want to clear up an issue: our work in ecosystems started with a view that ontogically the world is multi-causal, and influencable if one can become sensitive to a range of interralated causal patterns so that one can begin to shape the future that involves them.
So the task of the manager is not simply or niavely ontogical, that is to "see what is out there" because there is simply too much out there to see all of it at one time and make useful sense of it.
so the task of the manager is epistemological--what is my theory of knowledte that I can learn about this domain and make someting happen of benefit to customers and to my society and myself.
a manager makes a conversion of the mind to understanding that all situations require this or only give up their secrets with this level of self-awareness.
parathetically there are lots of studies of psychologial mindedness and stages of awareness and autonomy. this by the way is a goal of mr. zhang in his people.
we also see that this epistemolocal ontological issues and necesaity of continuous conversion is in all dimensions of human reflection and so-called "intelligence" such as are identifyed byy people as among otehr things emotional iq, sensate iq, spiritual iq, and tanglble iq as well as intellectual iq. in this meaning it is iq as self-awareness. of the changing framesthat affect ones expdrience..values, worldviews, mindsets.
open ontology (see my foundations work)
given our perspective we are delighted by almost four decades of explicitly ecosystem-based practice and reflection in business, and we have almost three decades of formal research. At this point many are assessing the state of knowledge, and identifying important topics for new initiatives. We applaud all of this work.
We also applaud the work of professionals, professors of practice, business school students, as well as management consultants and coaches whose work is not as visible as one might like in academic accounts.
In particular, it is apparent from our studies of practice that ecosystem-oriented firms are the vanguard of knowledge, and that practice routinely leads theory. Thus the work of practitioner-scholars is particular important. Notable contributors who learn from practice include for example David Teece and Gary Hamel. add in woman from menlo, and guy with agile.
we have now sponsored a businss ecosytem alliance to bring peple together. and to bring more peple to the table. (later discuss cybernetics and purpose as the way to bring all together
There is a great body of literature that tends to attribute the growth of ecosystems to modularity of parts. However, it is our experience over multiple studies that a community of enthusiasts looking to bring together resources and uses preexists and creates this modularity. Moreover, the enthusiasts tend to look not for modules per se, but for easily-accessible resources to which they can connect and from which they can enhance their own personal ecosystem—by a variety of criteria depending on their own access limitations. Members are seeking to leverage their existing capabilities. In sharing with and observing others, members of the group of enthusiasts identify some resources that are valuable to many of them, and these resources become centers of mutualism around which the ecosystem starts to develop as people can attach further uses and resources as they extend out from the emerging centers. As a web of interconnected uses and resources is established, structural holes in Burt’s sense become apparent and enterprising members may act to fill a hole and thus to establish a shared node. Sometimes a particular use becomes so compelling that it pulls from the resources and uses of the rest of the web, and in addition to becoming a recognized application or solution, the resulting aggregate demand for the solution creates upstream demand for resources to be supplied in volume. Aggregate, total solution contribution, individual part performance, reliability and availability in volume and accessibility become keys to the success of any resource.
Modularity is only one element of availability, along with price and other barriers to adoption.
At higher volumes modularity becomes important mostly because it reduces supplier costs, not buyer costs. It is an expression of reduced complexity and variation of the contribution, made available in a manner that is acceptable to customers because it provides many of the functions they want in the part, and because it is typically joined with adapters and customizers. A look at the Mouser catalogue shows that
of such proto-modules are typically elements that provide important functions that others in the ecosystem can use for mutuality.