We make the ecosystem

Katariina Palomäki, Maarit Halttunen, Maaria Nuutinen & Katri Valkokari

Ecosystems have been acknowledged as places that bring together different kinds of actors and join their resources to develop new approaches and solutions. Whereas networks are based on direct business relationships, effective governance and co-operation, ecosystems have both direct and indirect relationships, weaker tights between actors, and also competition in them, all stressing the importance of self-adjustment and organization, adaptation and commitment. There are big hopes for ecosystems as a breeding ground for new business innovations and solutions that help to tackle global challenges. New kinds of collaboration with actors not necessarily familiar to each other – from different industries even – may challenge old ways of doing things, even established industrial structures.

So how to achieve these new systems of value creation? Even though ecosystems cannot be orchestrated like business networks, there are ways to support their development and to boost them. Practices – as casual they might sound – are a tool for ensuring the development of collaboration and resource sharing and for strengthening the common idea of the shared way forward. They give relations, connections and activities some kind of shape, and create routines. In a way, practices that develop naturally through intercourse (from within) but that can also be developed purposely, make the actors come together, thus creating possibilities for learning, which in turn may be the spark for all kinds of smaller and bigger new ideas and openings. What is needed here is a culture that supports bringing out new perspectives and allows renewal.

SEED and KEKO are timely examples of ecosystems that have started as structured projects but whose ecosystem-level practices are now developing and being developed together with the ecosystem members, alongside the project-like collaboration and business development taking place. In the ecosystems, there already are various defined practices for the purpose of coordination, decision-making, information sharing and for ensuring user engagement. These include documents outlining the key principles for the operations and governance, contracts, digital tools such as work spaces, regularly organized meetings for more routine-like information sharing and for discussion and decision-making, channels for outward communication (e.g., for blog texts such as this one!) as well as defined process models that emphasize the importance of hearing the voice of key stakeholders in all development taking place.

Especially in an ecosystem taking its first steps and only formulating its practices, the idea of the ecosystem is constructed by the key persons working in it and in the relationships that are building between them. Supporting the sharing of knowledge and joint understanding, and in the end, holding on these people that share the idea of and the passion for the meaning, purpose and direction of the ecosystem, is the priority. The core of a new ecosystem lies in its people and in the community of practice that draws to join and with which one can identify. We make the ecosystem – with the help of practices.

SEED ecosystem is an ambitious innovation marketplace. It matches forest industry companies with the best digital consultancy, development and design companies, along with well-targeted top-notch research. Learn more about SEED here: https://seedecosystem.fi/

KEKO brings together major players and SMEs to build a dynamic ecosystem around a smart building platform. Learn more about KEKO here: https://kekoecosystem.com/