Monday, October 20, 2014

The Future is Social Business EcoSystems

The Future is Social-Business EcoSystems

Building the Case for the Glia Design


Breaking from the pack isn't easy. Yet, as this comprehensive study from McKinsey and Company shows, most companies are mired in being just average. 
For example, we saw that the corporate world, like the world beyond it, has a relatively small number of elites and that, just as society grapples with the contemporary challenge of limited social mobility, many companies seem stuck in their strategic “class.” Escaping the gravity of the corporate middle class, indeed, requires businesses to expand or reinvent themselves unusually rapidly, often in the context of an industry whose overall performance is improving.
What are the implications for being in the middle pack?
  • If you’re in the middle, you mostly face a battle of inches. A fortunate few companies will ride a favorable industry trend. But for the most part, it will take substantial strategic or operational shifts to escape the gravity of market forces. The odds are against you, which elevates the importance of looking at strategy with a high degree of rigor.

Another trend to consider here is the lifespan of companies is shrinking.
 Ultimately, the challenge faced by all companies is to grow at or above the pace of their industry without losing control of their operations. The Innosight study shows that very few companies achieve this goal.
Encouraging? Hardly. What's happening? That technology is disrupting business models is hardly news. That "digitization" is impacting strategy is also not news. Awareness, or ignorance, of the depth and nature of economic environment shouldn't be the problem. So what is?


Or, rather, a lack of leadership. Leadership isn't a title on a door. It isn't authority. It isn't management. It isn't being the head of a company or division. These positions are in abundance. Leadership, however, is not. And all the fads around leadership today are more myth than reality.
There is little doubt that many of the problems afflicting modern society are traceable to an extraordinary dearth of leadership.  In politics, business, education and a myriad of other fields, we are continuously reminded of the inadequacies of those in charge.
The challenges don't stop there. The university system that served the industrial era economy reasonably well, does not serve an economic landscape that is much different  from the previous few hundred years. What we have now is an education system training kids for a world than no longer exists.
What about the employee base companies do have to work with? They're mostly not engaged with their work.

For businesses today, leadership is about moving out from the morass of mass mediocrity to a world that gets the most from its talent base, it's people assets, and delights its customers.
This is what is required of leadership today--to guide stakeholders, assets, people and customers from the mountain peak it is currently on, down the slope and through the valley of death, and then create the more prosperous mountain peaks on the other side. Most everything else is mere shuffling of deckchairs on sinking ships.

The Mountain Peaks of Prosperity are Thick with Rainforests

More so than ever before, businesses are the function of ecosystems. Understanding even that is a big step forward. Nurturing the ecosystem upon which the business depends is a bigger step yet. Leading the way towards seeding and growing rainforests is what any responsible leader should be striving towards. Rich, diverse, well conceived and executed social business ecosystems are where the "gold" lies, the future 'engines' of prosperity. 
This isn't a trendy metaphor, but rather a much deeper, richer understanding of how the world is, and how economies function, and their role in a prosperous society. 

+Jennifer Sertl , one of my trusted sources with her finger on the pulse of business today,  returning recently from the Sibos conference, brought these insights from the thought leaders in the finance industry. The financial industry. Not academia. Not flowery optimistic change agents. The financial industry. Let me highlight a few key paragraphs from Jennifer's recent LinkedIn post on the conference:

Swift has an internal innovation lab called Innotribe, which is a group of individuals who travel globally to collect innovative thinkers to bring to Sibos to help bridge the gap between protection and innovation. Two speakers in particular made it very clear that competitive advantage today requires individuals build robust relationships across business sectors. Peter Hinssen asserts,“if you understand networks, you will understand the future.” Things are more relational and less hierarchical. There is too much to know and individuals can no longer be single point sources. Those who will have the best sense of reality are those who live and foster relationships in robust networks. So many people like to be with individuals that are similar in lifestyle and expression. Yet, navigating complexity requires people to be more interested in what they have to learn from one another than what it is that they have in common. Similarly Ann Badillo urges that rather than think of a network as a community, think of it “as a rainforest.” She says,“we need to go beyond building networks to building eco-systems.” This requires a much more robust inclusive design around friends, clients, customers, shareholders.
This may be the best paragraph I've read yet summing up the reasons to move towards a vastly different way of thinking of the business entity and it's place in the socio-economic environment.
Sertl goes on to say:
 Sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial growth come from ecosystems, not mere assets. Ecosystems are environments designed from the bottom-up to foster serendipitous interactions. The ecosystems are nurtured by several key cultural traits: connectivity, diversity of ideas and talents, deep levels of trust, motivations that rise above short-term zero-sum calculation, and cultural norms that encourage dreaming, risk-taking, and paying it forward.
Every single point there is bang on, and can't be separated from the other. This isn't some kind of piecemeal strategy. It's all in, or all out. The losers will be those that could only ever dip their toes in the water, that never dove in and learned how to swim in the new environment. The leaders will be those that inspire all involved to dive in, learn to swim, and learn to synthesize and synchronize.
If you're thinking to yourself that a lot of the culture and culturally rewarded behaviours of today's organization are ill-suited to the new environment, you're absolutely right. Leaders will know how to either sort them out, and rid the organization of the ill-suited, or inspire their charges to embrace the new world, and how to thrive in it. The knowledge needed to thrive in these new environments abound.
In closing, Sertl nicely circles the square with this quote:
 Penny Hembrow, VP of Global Banking at CGI Group, Inc. was an exhibitor at Sibos. When asked about today’s competitive advantage and navigating complexity, she gave a large smile and let out a sigh, “At the end of the day we must never forget that consulting at its best no matter what you do is about problem solving.” One of the biggest challenges we have right now is how to be globally minded yet serve our local communities. We have to toggle all the time between global and local. We might have large global networks, but at the end of the day most transactions are really made in person face to face. Even though it might be difficult, one has to find a way to have one foot planted in the macro and one planted in office in the life of the person you are serving. Hembrow refers to this as “the art of proximity - bringing global relevance at a macro level to the front door of the person you are serving.”
What does this mean? A continued move away from competing on price, and mass production, and towards competing on value and value creation. Which means more and more a world of customization. What does this mean for management? (yes, Virginia, management still matters) That managers are gardeners, who nurture, nourish and feed their ecosystem. Is that being taught at business schools? Probably not. But that is where the followers are, not the leaders.

In my next post I will explore with you what are the necessary design characteristics of a healthy social business ecosystem.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Glia Social Business EcoSystem Map

Seeding the Glia EcoSystem

Lead Guide and Orchestrator

Hello, my name is Gregory D Esau, your lead guide and orchestrator towards value creation in the Glia Social Business EcoSystem. The 'map' you see above, is our coarse grain macro-view of what our ecosystem will roughly look like. Over time, we will continually refine and define this map, your place in it.  How to make it work for you, how we use it to help create value for yourself and our customer network. How we'll track and visualize different value flows that are essential to a healthy thriving eco-system, eventually giving us an entirely new way to "see" and value our socio-economic life and activities.  Redefining how we create and distribute wealth in business and society. 
The world needs an economic revolution, our collective drive, passion and mission is to lead and set the bar as to how economic life functions and flows. Now, and into the future. 

The Seeds for Success

Thinking of a healthy social business ecosystem, such as the Glia design, as a garden is no mere metaphor. This visualization and the mind set that goes with it is critical to the success of the ecosystem.  Even more so, is how we seed, nurture and grow a social business ecosystem, especially one designed to deliver a range of high value products and services to our customer network. 

There are seven keystone 'species' needed that meshed together ensure the best chance for seeds of our success. It's important to note, that the success or failure of an ecosystem like Glia depends on all the species to understand one another, and pull together to grow the system, and find, develop and create the value and wealth inherent in such a system. 


Investors can come from within the ranks of the keystone species, indeed, it's vital those that commit to the system are investor/stakeholders. It cannot be stated enough the design of the Glia system depends on the distributed ownership of the system. 
Investment can also come from outside the system. 
These two basic categories can be thought of as vested investors, and passive investors. 
The vested investors, believe passionately in what we're working to build together, and therefore also invest time and expertise in understanding the system so as to best contribute. 
The passive investors will be those that believe in our economic philosophy, but for reasons unique to each, can't contribute currently as builders and developers. 

Knowledge and Intellectual Capital

In the many years I have been pulling together the knowledge for developing the Glia EcoSystem two things have impressed me. How many different knowledge pieces to this puzzle that exit, and the different ways they can be combined to create unique value. Very much like a brain and mind, the more knowledge nodes in the system, the more expansive it's capabilities. Especially when we combine Social and Business, and within the context of increasing scales of customization.
Like every species in the system, Glia cannot thrive without a healthy network of knowledge nodes in it's brain!
As we further our understanding of the system, we will continually break this down into contextually specific types of knowledge, expertise, etc

Builders and Developers

The design for the Glia EcoSystem as it scales will require a robust platform and network that can serve both the social world and business world. Of critical importance to the system and our mission, we as a whole need to own this platform and network. In the lessons learned from the new social network, Ello, there's a strong market for a network that differentiates itself from those that are ad supported or "free" for the right to user data. There's also a strong reaction as to how it's financed, with a lot of healthy skepticism towards venture capital. 
For Glia, we must have ownership over our data, our platforms, and network. 
Attracting the talent to such a model and system as Glia is critical, as we'll need to find that sweet spot between open source and more closed corporate model. 

Talent Market 

All businesses need talent to function. The old industrial model and concepts of "labour" and "management" break down in the needs of business and society in the 21st Century. One of the biggest shifts Glia will create is changing the perception, relationship and functionality of talent pool and the needs of business and society, In very short, a healthy thriving social business ecosystem needs a healthy, thriving talent market. 

Business--Products and Services

A look at the map gives us some idea of the types of businesses we want to attract into our system. Our long-term goal is to provide everything the value-centric consumer needs from cradle to grave. Our philosophy helps further refine what kind of businesses we want to cultivate--we do not compete on price. Competing on price is a losers game. This commoditization of labour and product, where ruthless cutting of costs towards the "lowest price" is the only way to "win" has been devastating for business and society. This principle is the most fundamental reason for the mass transfer of wealth over the last 30-40 years. This competing on price destroys and corrupts the soul of society, and business. The practice will no doubt persist, but not within the Glia EcoSystem.

Our Consumers

Our reason for being. The social in social-business. In speaking to our consumers, how successful Glia can be in being a thriving ecosystem, how well we can reshape our socio-economic future depends on enough consumers who understand the need for shopping on value, and not on price.  

The Orchestrators

These are the master synthesis masters who can "read" the system, connect the dots among business, talent, technology and talent in unique ways to create unique value between business and consumer. 


Evidence continues to mount that the old business models and old organizational models are too static, too inflexible and too tied to an outdated economic business philosophy to keep up with the needs of society, Such trends as artificial intelligent automation, Bitcoin/blockchain technology, the internet of things, 3D printing, institute stagnation, cloud technologies, distorted wealth creation and distribution, social networked media and even the specter of a 'jobless' future are not indicative that these old industrial models are up to the needs of business and society moving forward. 

Seeing our economies as ecosystems, creating the ways to measure the value flows in our economic systems, values beyond the simplistic measures of profit and productivity, of GDP, so we have the visual maps so as all of us can see the health of the system, and understand what makes a healthy system, a healthy society. Where the needs of society and business are in synch, and one feeds the other. Where we all value all of the keystone species in the system, where we all learn how to be gardeners in the system. 
I also need to mention "innovation" at this point. Innovation isn't a strategy, it isn't a department, it even isn't "cross functional teams" (although that is a step in the right direction!). You can't "plan" innovation. It's often "seeing" what others can't see. It's serendipity. 
Glia as a platform, combined with how we'll use visual social graphics to see the network, is designed to foster the environments where innovation can occur. 

Separately, we can likely continue on the path we're on. But when we have all the tools, all the knowledge, all the technology, and most importantly, the need for revolutionary change, why would we choose to stay on the wrong path? 

Using our media, our social media and networks, we can work to bring together all the necessary "species" to populate and grow the Glia Social Business EcoSystem. Not quite "crowdsourced", but what I call "SmartSwarms". Those of us who have a vested interest in growing the system, and enough of an understanding to find what we need, to qualify what we need, the pioneers we need to grow. And to understand we all win in the process. 

Seeding Cities

Unquestionably, this is a big shift. It's important to connect this to community, and the business communities. To give us the best chance of success, seeding Glia in cities is the best way to make this happen. 
As a resident in beautiful Vancouver B.C. Canada, this is one city we'll seed. Which other cities we'll seed will be dependent on finding the Core Nucleus of Orchestrators for any one particular city. 
This also highlights how we can take knowledge and know how that is globally distributed, and apply it in physical communities. The map we see above can both be a global representation of Glia EcoSystem, and can also be overlayed any one particular city.  

What is Next?

As Lead Guide and Chief Orchestrator, it is my job to attract and connect this to people and businesses that fit into the above species categories. Social media and our social networks will be our main conduit for the macro system. Google Plus and it's Hang On Air broadcasting (in conjunction with YouTube) abilities allows an amazing ability to connect this to people worldwide, and my own back yard.
Likewise, for the training and orientation for how to grow and thrive on the Glia System, this capability will be invaluable to giving the pioneers the best possible odds of success, and also for connecting with our customer base.