Since the Ecosystem Handbook was published a lot has happened in multiple fronts: Acedemia, Business and Consulting. In the academic front, I was accepted to the Turku School of Economics Doctoral Program in the end of November, and have been slowly getting to work towards my second Doctorate. As far as Business is concerned, there is a lot of Consulting potential at sight.

Organizing Ecosystems

As Finland is getting ready to direct EU Recovery Funding which is claimed to be the largest stimulus package ever. Companies of different sizes and public organizations are joining forces and establishing ecosystems around various themes, making the topic of ecosystem organization and leadership more interesting than ever.

With the Academia, Business and Consulting fronts in mind, the key questions for 2021 in my mind are the following: “What kind of action Finland and Finnish companies should take considering the Recovery Funding?” and even more importantly “How should they organize for Impact?

Take Action

When 2020 proved to be different than we assumed, and COVID-19 changed our world for good, collaboration in ecosystems became more important than ever. In the world where wicked problems prevail, it is unlikely that any single company or research organization can solve them alone. The good news is that there is a lot of funding available for ecosystems, especially if they seek impact beyond immediate business benefits.

According to the International Institute of Sustainable Development Finland will receive about EUR 2.3 billion from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility during 2021–2023. These funds form part of the EUR 750 billion recovery fund that the EU is planning to provide to its member countries in the form of grants and loans.

A large share of the EUR 2.3 billion is earmarked for fostering the transition to a low-carbon economy, which is estimated to cost Finland more than EUR 1 billion. The government plans to invest the EU funds in six key themes: Supporting education and research, cutting carbon emissions, improving competitiveness as well as access to social and health care, supporting the labour market, and boosting digitalization and infrastructure

While funding is available, the mechanisms how to apply for it remain unclear as we speak. However, there are a few good instruments that are fit for purpose: For example Business Finland’s Veturi instrument for large corporations is a prime suspect. In addition, there may be more direct investment support that meet the IPCEI guidelines. So, while we will learn more about the instruments during coming weeks, there is a need to take action now. Ecosystem initiatives with strong purpose and compelling key project take time to build – especially if one wants to ensure that the key partners are both rationally committed and emotionally engaged in collaboration.

Organize for Impact

The philosophical questions that rises when discussing ecosystems is fundamental: “If ecosytems are managed or organized, are they still ecosystems?”

Like biological ecosystems, the business, innovation and knowledge ecosystems adapt. And maybe that is the essence of ecosystem management and organization – it should reflect the purpose of the ecosystem and ensure adaptability along the way. Therefore, when organizing ecosystems, it is essential to create a link between purpose and actions, and by doing that create mechanisms for partner entry and exit, and above all ensure commitment of the key partners.

After writing the Ecosystem Handbook, I came into a conclusion that the way ecosystem organizations form and behave, deserves further attention. Hence, the “Doctorate 2022” project with the working title of “Organizing for Impact in the Era of Ecosystems”.

The Ecosystem Handbook gives pragmatic insight and tools for building both the governance model for managing ecosystems and the leadership capabilities and traits to support the governance. However, from research point of view there are a number of things that could benefit of further study. What specifically is now under consideration: Reading everything that there is to read, observing real-life ecosystems as they form and evolve and analyzing what kind of transitions ecosystem structures make underway, are among things that are on my agenda for 2021.

The viewpoints are the same as in the Ecosystem Handbook: Rational and emotional. The rational questions relate to defining organizational structures and measurable objectives. The emotional side relates to the fact that in ecosystems leaders must manage the tension between clarity of purpose and potentially shifting objectives – and while doing that create high performing teams that stay focused, engaged and energized. And by doing that create impact.

Next steps and call for action

Discovering what “Organizing for Impact in the era of Ecosystems” means in real life there are number of actions to take. One of the most important ways to learn are insightful discussions about the topic. So if your organization is active in any kind of ecosystem or if you are personally involved – and willing and able to share your point of view, let’s talk! I would be more than interested to hear what you think about the topic.

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