In this post we look at one of the key aspects of strategy and your business health - your business ecosystem. In an earlier post we identified some stories that identify gaps in our understanding and management of your ecosystem - see Ecosystem.
In this post we look at ways you can analyse and enhance your understand of your ecosystem and - ultimately - optimise it. We use the matrix above - one of three we have recently developed for this purpose - as a framework.
One axis of the matrix identifies whether collaboration with ecosystem actors or potential partners is permissible or not. Here permissible is taken to indicate whether the organisation officially allows it in terms of its values, strategies, legal compliance, and risk management practices.
Ecosystem actors will vary widely depending on the industry an organisation operates in and how rich its natural or emergent ecosystem is. Ongoing research and analysis needs to be undertaken and appropriate policies and procedures introduced or modified and communicated appropriately. Then ongoing monitoring and enforcement needs to take place.
Examples can include a hotel and its permissible use of passenger transport options. Actors in this space range from transport providers who meet all legislated compliance requirements through to ones who don't and possibly operate unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles.
Careful attention needs to be given to the reputational and legal risk an organisation is exposed to if it unwittingly allows guests to be transported in non-compliant vehicles.
The second axis of the matrix identifies whether collaboration is taking place or not. Here the organisation needs to look at what is happening, often in emergent and undetected ways. Such collaborations might merit encouragement and formal adoption. On the other hand some may require active intervention and discouragement.
Using a a hotel as an example again - staff may allow the use of hotel rooms on an unrecorded basis and outside of management's knowledge. This would typically happen at night when management are not present. Management might believe that its various building and room access control and video monitoring systems prevent such unofficial use. Closer analysis might reveal though that staff have found ways to avoid or work around such systems.
Permissible and happening - Scenario 1
Have you maximised/optimised?
Here you need to identify all such collaboration and determine the extent to which they are formalised and cultivated.
For example as a hotel you may have a relatively informal arrangement whereby you recommend a hotel in another tourism region to your guests and that hotel return the favour. Is there merit in exploring joint promotions perhaps and making the informal arrangement a more stuctured and potentially lucrative one for both parties?
Not permissible and happening - Scenario 2
Corrective/control action required
This area of collaboration is one that can pose reputational and risk management challenges. And it is often not known to the formal system which may at times turn a blind eye to it.
It can however pose potential opportunities. For example - taking the informal taxi example given above - it might be an opportunity for the organisation to be seen as helping the local community. Helping informal tax owners to become compliant and safe could prove a useful opportunity to make a corporate social investment (CSI) while being seen to be sensitive to the needs of the local community.
Not permissible and not happening Scenario 3
Ongoing oversight and monitoring required here
Any ecosystem is constantly evolving and emergent. as environmental circumstances change. If we don't monitor carefully undesirable practices can - and will - emerge.
We must also be aware that any ecosystem must cope with predators. Predators take many forms and guises. It can include such activities as protection rackets. In my country for example predators have infiltrated the construction industry and in some cases driven legitimate construction companies out of business.
To paraphrase a famous saying - Eternal vigilance is the price of excellence.
Permissible and not happening - Scenario 4
Assess relative benefits and decide on incorporation
There are many opportunities in our ecosystem to collaborate. Often we have not formally identified, assessed, and potentially implemented them. This can provide us with significant added value for ourselves and others.
As an example - as a hotel you may find you attract customers who are taking part in particular types of tours. If you provided a free desk within your hotel foyer to be shared by tour operators you my find that your hotel becomes a hub for tourists wanting to undertake tours. The resulting publicity and word of mouth could see you increasing your occupancy rate as you became recognised as the go-to hotel to stay in.
To arrange a no-obligation discussion with Martin Johnson or Bryce Biggs please provide us with your details below and we will be back to you with some suggestions on when we could have that discussion.
The health of your ecosystem is often a vital but unrecognised aspects of effective strategy implementation.
We offer you an initial one-day intervention which comprises interviews, research, & an online review of your business ecosystem using the BIG PICTURE platform & some of our recently developed matrices as per the one described above.
To find out more please provide us with your contact details below and we will be back to you to discuss the intervention further.