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Beyond Hierarchy: How Business Ecosystems Are Changing Corporate Design

Beyond Hierarchy:
How Business Ecosystems Are Changing Corporate Design

For the last two centuries, the Hierarchy has been the dominant operating model for companies, governments, and organizations. But as the pace of change accelerates and new technologies mature, forward-looking organizations are exploring alternative, more agile and human-centered approaches, and a new model is coming into focus: Business Ecosystems.

New research shows strong correlations between elements of open business models and their impact on factors such as internal entrepreneurial activity, the ability to recruit and retain top talent, and financial performance. This new model of organization and its key components can be seen in a myriad of new approaches being tested in leading companies. A key focus of the sessions below are on Haier Corporation’s RenDanHeYi model, one of the most developed and popular of these growing models that offers much to learn from.

From the sessions below, we can learn key insights into how business models are changing, where innovation comes from, how GE Appliances transformed using post-hierarchical attributes, how you can integrate the key elements of an ecosystem, and where to begin. We hope you enjoy learning about this new mode of business from our expert practitioners and speakers.

How Business Ecosystems Are Changing Corporate Design

In this session, Kaihan Krippendorff—CEO and Founder of the Outthinker Strategy Network—discusses what a study on business ecosystems revealed about how a business’ org structure impacts its growth—particularly when it comes to innovation. The overarching theme revealed through this research is that companies with ecosystem-based characteristics tend to outperform others in two core areas: talent recruitment and retainment, and financial performance. Among key takeaways discussed are:

  • What innovation has traditionally meant—and how it has changed over time—including, the source of innovation
  • The typical profile of individuals responsible with 30 of the most transformative innovations in the last three decades
  • How the idea of work and jobs has changed over time, and the implications for organizations
  • The five ways in which organizational organize themselves, and how there has been a shift from traditional hierarchical structures
  • The four attributes of an emerging post-hierarchical model, and what it means for talent retention and financial performance

Kaihan Krippendorff

Founder of Outthinker, Strategy, Innovation, & Transformation Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Author

Interview with Kevin Nolan of GE Appliances

In this session, Kevin Nolan—President & CEO of GE Appliances—discusses GEA’s transformation and learnings they underwent as they adapted the Haier business model and practices. Among key takeaways discussed:

  • The four essential components GEA learned from the Haier model that transformed their business
  • How GEA went from leadership-first approach to a customer-centric one
  • What it means to co-create with your customers, and how that affects the way in which the organization works together
  • The ways in which the Haier microenterprise model enabled innovation and agility on a new level
  • How to know if your organization is ready to integrate practices from this new business model, and first steps to take in doing so
  • Barriers and resistance you might meet in implementing this new business model, and how to overcome them
  • The small changes you can make in your organizations core to create change
  • Key metrics that GEA implemented to track success, and how to know when to kill an idea that shows poor results

Thought Leader Panel

In this session, Thought Leaders Martin Reeves, Rita McGrath, and Tony O’Driscoll discuss the parameters and implications to consider when it comes to ecosystems, and how they relate to hierarchies. As a shift from traditional org structure continues to gain traction, it’s important to consider various factors discussed in this session:

  • The benefits and opportunities in adapting an decentralized model vs. a hierarchical one
  • How integrating “microenterprises” enables customer-centricity and innovation
  • Why leaders need to adapt, be open and embrace change for transformation to be possible
  • The context in which org structure has minimal impact in light of other factors at play
  • How to integrate aspects of ecosystems vs. when hierarchical structures are actually more beneficial
  • Six ways in which strategy is changing due to technology
  • How traditional functions within an organization are affected by ecosystems
  • The type of culture—and benefits that come with it—that arises from an ecosystem approach
  • How to balance the duality of stability with structure, adaptability with efficiency and key other dualities that come with the ecosystem model
  • The first steps to take in experimenting with the ecosystem approach
“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?