What is your ecosystem mindset?


Ecosystems are the trend in today’s innovation management. When you write the words “innovation ecosystem” in Google Search, you immediately get 1.6 million results. What are these ecosystems really like and how are they managed?

These questions we asked when we started the work of compiling a set of tools for ecosystem management in cooperation with CLIC Innovation and VTT. We interviewed 14 innovation ecosystems in Finland, Sweden and Belgium, which provided us good understanding of ecosystems and their management.

Innovation ecosystems are managed with two mindsets – project mindset or community mindset. Ecosystems that take the project mindset, see their ecosystem through the project lens. They explain the management of the ecosystem in project terms. For them, the ecosystem refers to number of projects they are running. They design the ecosystem trying to find the optimal structure for the projects. Needs of the projects are the main arguments when choosing the members. This makes the ecosystem more closed to new participants. Communication refers to project meetings. Coordination of the ecosystem is based on supervising that everybody follows the project plan. Good performance refers to meeting the deadlines and set budgets in the projects.

Others observe their innovation ecosystem through the community lens. For them, managing the ecosystem means building a community of members around shared interests. They talk about the members when describing the ecosystem, and tend to be more open to new members. For them, variety of participants means more possibilities for serendipity and radical innovations. They therefore put a lot of effort into interaction and collaboration between the members. They build the ecosystem considering how people most naturally come together. Governance highlights trust, social bonds and joint decision-making. Coordination means arranging various possibilities to meet others, to discuss and find new partners and ideas for innovation. Good performance means satisfied members.

What is your ecosystem mindset?

We’ll provide more information at the Playbook seminar on 28 September 2021: it is a free online seminar and will be held on 28th September 9 am – 11:30 am (Finnish time). Come and listen to industry experts and their experiences on open innovation networks. Register for our online event here.

Read more about our open innovation ecosystem Playbook tools.

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Helena Rusanen

Helena Rusanen - Innovation ecosystems

Helena Rusanen D.Sc. (econ.), M.A. works as the Researcher at the University of Vaasa, School of Marketing and Communication. She has studied innovation networks and ecosystems in various business fields. Her main academic interest has focused on building and management of innovation networks and ecosystems and innovation relationships, resource sharing and integration, and performance measurement.