Unlocking the Power of Ecosystem Governance: Insights from Darrell O’Donnell

Building and governing ecosystems can be both challenging and rewarding for organizations. In his recent presentation to the Ecosystem Foundry Working Group at the Trust Over IP Foundation, Darrell O’Donnell shared valuable insights into the intricate world of ecosystem governance.

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Written by Continuum Loop


The Essence of Ecosystems

Ecosystems aren’t just about a collection of apps and platforms; they’re about the roles and activities within that ecosystem. Ecosystem governance dictates what’s encouraged, what’s allowed, and what’s forbidden. It’s the set of rules that govern how different players interact, collaborate, and contribute value to the ecosystem.

Beyond Platforms: Ecosystems vs. Platforms

Darrell made a clear distinction between ecosystems and platforms. While platforms may be a component of an ecosystem, they are not enough to define an ecosystem. Platforms primarily focus on technical interactions, such as how things work and data flow. However, ecosystems encompass a broader scope, including governance, compliance, liability, and more. The actual value of ecosystems lies in the business and governance aspects.

Minimum Viable Ecosystem vs. Minimum Viable Product

We often hear about Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in the agile world. An MVP is a learning, exploring, and prototyping tool, but it’s not the final product. On the other hand, a Minimum Viable Ecosystem (MVE) is about delivering a real value proposition. It’s not about exploration but about having tangible value. MVEs aim to attract and align partners within the ecosystem to fulfill different roles and activities, as no single company can do it all.

Ecosystem Governance Frameworks

Ecosystems can be complex, and their governance is crucial. Darrell emphasized the importance of ecosystem governance frameworks, which help organizations understand where they fit, what value they add, and where opportunities lie. These frameworks also highlight gaps in the ecosystem that require new roles or partners to fill. Governance frameworks address compliance, liability, and other governance issues that drive value within ecosystems.

The Trust Continuum™: Tools for Ecosystem Governance

Darrell introduced the Trust Continuum™ Tools, a toolbox designed in-house to assist organizations in navigating the complexities of ecosystem governance. These tools are not only useful for governance but can also be applied in various scenarios:

  • Product and Platform Design
  • Product Strategy 
  • Interoperability and Conformance Testing

These powerful resources will support your journey in building successful Minimum Viable Ecosystems and establishing effective Ecosystem Governance Frameworks. You can access the entire Trust Continuum™ Toolbox here.

Influence over Control

The mantra of “Control only what you must, influence the rest” underscores the importance of understanding where strict governance is needed and where influence can lead to positive outcomes. By applying the Trust Continuum™ tools and principles, organizations can navigate the intricate world of ecosystems and drive value in this dynamic landscape.

Control only what you must - influence the rest Click To Tweet

Darrell’s presentation sheds light on the critical aspects of ecosystem governance and provides practical tools for organizations to navigate and excel in this complex arena. Ecosystems are the future of business, and understanding how to govern them effectively is essential for success. With the right knowledge and tools, organizations can unlock the power of ecosystems and thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

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