Most people – in and outside business – first think about their tribe. That’s understandable because that’s what evolution has taught us to do. As we spend a big part of our time at work, our tribes have got bigger, but our thinking is still very much linear. This is a cause of the fact that companies are typically closed entities with complete control of their internal resources. This is the prevalent business model since the Industrial Revolution, based on the ‘value chain’, that is still taught today in most business schools.

However, in a more complex, global and interconnected world, where borders cannot stop pollution, where walls cannot prevent global warming, a new mental model, ecosystem thinking, has been emerging.

Over the last 15 years, technology, powered by ecosystem thinking, has enabled new organisational forms, such as platform ecosystems, to scale exponentially. Some of these new companies, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, have become, in less than two decades, the largest firms in the world.

In order for people to embrace this new way of thinking, they first need to understand that platforms are different from traditional businesses. These new organisations operate as ecosystems, matching and connecting participants, often on a global level. Platforms do not do everything in-house but co-create value by harnessing the power of communities and networks. Among many things, platforms shape the laws, norms and rules, or governance principles, that build trust and foster healthy communities. It is therefore critical to understand how to be a successful platform user, producer and builder and we’re going to explore these three new roles together. Looking into the future, technology layers are evolving, with new building blocks like Blockchain, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. These new technologies will enable the decentralisation of platforms, which means that we will no longer need a central organisation which captures a lot of the value by intermediating users and producers. In this new world, platform ecosystems can be governed and owned by participants who co-create value. Going forward, these new business models have the potential to shape society and help us address the big challenges that mankind has. That is why people need to embrace ecosystem thinking. Laure has lived in the UK for the last 25 years, but grew up in rural France and South America, where she picked up her love of nature, cooking and eating good food. She has always been interested in tech and even saw the birth of the Web as a computer science student in the early 90’s.

She’s spent the last 10 years developing platform ecosystems, first at eBay and now with her own company, Launchworks & Co, where she helps organisations design, ignite and scale platform ecosystems and communities. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.


Posted by Derek M. D'Onofrio

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