Last week I presented a session on ecosystems thinking at SAI. Ecosystems thinking is also a central theme in my new book on value creation for the digital world.

I strongly believe that we need to rethink our enterprises profoundly if we want to create sustainable value for the dynamic environments that we live in today. And ecosystems thinking provides a powerful thinking framework that we can use as a source of inspiration.

It is remarkable to notice that the words economy, ecology and ecosystems all originate from the Greek word ‘oikos’, and that the meaning of ‘oikos’ refers to ‘the household’, ‘the place to live’ or ‘the whole house’. I believe we need to consider ‘the whole house’ again when we think about our enterprises, and not limit ourselves to the sometimes narrow focus of making money solely.

Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the whole rather than the parts, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots, and for understanding the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character. – Peter Senge

Systems thinking can be seen as an alternative way of thinking to the reductionist paradigm. While the reductionist way of thinking tries to tackle problems by solving the individual parts, the system thinking discipline focusses much more on the whole and all of the dynamics involved.

Instead of looking at our organizations as machines, we can better start to look at them more as living systems. Living systems have the fantastic ability of being resilient when things go wrong and have the capacity to adapt themselves to their changing environments (or die, should they not transform fast enough). To survive and flourish in a VUCA world, resilience and adaptability are becoming critical requirements for the design of our enterprise models too.

In my book I describe how ecosystems thinking can have a deep impact on the way we design products and services, on the way we design technology architectures and on the way we design organizational structures.

In real-life I notice increasing enthusiasm among customers and colleagues to pursue new ways of value creation that are inspired by ecosystems thinking. I invite all of you to join me on the journey of transformation, each of you in your own unique way. I am curious to know about your ‘sparkles of transformation’.