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  • Nicole Lisson

Ecosystem Intelligence™: Express Lane to Business Agility

Ecosystem thinking is still all-too-scarce in the first world. Based in the biological sciences, it illuminates the inter-connectedness of life. This lovely video illustrates how shifting one element of an ecosystem has profound impact (as indigenous people could tell us, if we knew how to listen.)

For the growing ranks of those looking to cultivate Business Agility, I propose the importance of Ecosystem Intelligence.

The rough map below shows just a few of the systemic interactions common to most businesses. Some are transactional, many more are cooperative and collaborative: exchanging information, questions, concerns and solutions in a complex network of human intercourse.

Every business is composed of such a network of exchanges. For those relatively new to Ecosystem Intelligence, I beg your patience to review a couple of important points that are often overlooked:

  • Unlike the impact of wolves re-introduced to Yellowstone, where exchanges were biological, business exchanges are social. Human beings choose what is valuable, when, and with whom they prefer to exchange.

  • Unlike wolves un-knowingly changing patterns of vegetation, water, and predation in the Park, trust is a necessary part of the choices that comprise our businesses: Do we like the way you do business? Is your credit good? Do you deliver on time?

  • Unlike biological interactions, business exchanges take place in language: That’s the best _____ in town. Does it come in green? How often do you upgrade?

  • Unlike biome change, change in business ecosystems is often led by human innovation. Like biome change, shifts in business ecosystems often involves failure: some die, others thrive.

  • Perhaps most important, unlike biome change, we humans can design our actions. We can generate new value. We can be well-informed before placing our bets.

Two requirements of Business Agility make Ecosystem Intelligence particularly valuable:

  • Responding to new information often requires letting go of past ‘knowledge’, systems, processes, profits, and roles in favor of new opportunity

  • Good design rises and falls on the quality of specifications. What informs those specifications in the absence of Ecosystem Intel?

Thus my emphasis on Ecosystem Intelligence. If your business generated strong numbers of the kinds of exchanges that kept your people current on value partners’ concerns and where they’re placing their bets - throughout your business ecosystem (hint: Rich and SweetSpot, cf map above) – you’d be in the express lane to Business Agility.

Stay tuned for steps to building Ecosystem Intelligence in your business.

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