Everyone Willing is at the Center of the Universe
by Yann Cramer
All companies that are aware of the innovation potential of their network of partners, suppliers, customers, users, specifiers, influencers, legislators, helpers, and other stakeholders, represent themselves at the center of what is now commonly named an innovation ecosystem. But if all organizations connected as part of an ecosystem see themselves at the center of the ecosystem, the center becomes rapidly overcrowded!
Let’s call astrophysics to the rescue! We do not know if there is a center of the universe in the sense that there is a center in a sphere such as a golf ball. However, it is generally accepted by astrophysicists that the universe is expanding. Mathematically, a consequence of this expansion is that from whichever planet you observe the rest of the universe, all other objects in the universe are getting farther and farther, which gives the feeling that you are indeed sitting at the center of the universe.
Back to innovation ecosystems, the obvious learning from the astrophysics analogy is that each enterprise sit at the center of its own ecosystem, and that there are as many centers as there are enterprises.
Of more practical use for those trying to benchmark the innovation culture of their organization, an additional analogy is that the universe of the innovative enterprise is expanding. In a world where the rate of initiative and change continues to accelerate, where expertise and ideas are more distributed than ever, enterprises that do not feel in their day-to-day activities the expansion of their ecosystem are probably falling behind on innovation and growth opportunities. And the lesson from nature is that shrinking ecosystems can rapidly reach the point of collapse.
Illustration: Innovation ecosystem by NineSigma
Yann Cramer is an innovation learner, practitioner, sharer, teacher. He’s lived in France, Belgium and the UK, he’s travelled six continents to create development opportunities with customers or suppliers, and run workshops on R&D and Marketing. He writes on www.innovToday.com and on twitter @innovToday.