SAP seeding innovation via ecosystem collaboration

In the wake of our nice Q2-2008 results (here), I’m more convinced than ever that SAP’s ecosystem collaboration model (SDN here) is a un-heralded differentiator.  It may not be so un-heralded anymore…see this article from John Hagel and John Seely Brown (here).  Two of their lessons learned jumped out:

Ecosystems evolve over time, but the orchestrator plays a key role in seeding and feeding participant initiatives:  Evangelists for collaborative ecosystems often scare off executives with rhetoric suggesting that executives need to give up control and that ecosystems are “self-organizing.”

Too many evangelists preach collaboration “religion” — with all the ideology and doctrine that implies.  Injecting some “spirituality” is the better metaphor.  Executives should be reassured that giving up control doesn’t mean giving up influence and then the approach should be explained and piloted.

On the other hand, sometimes all spirit is taken out of the pitch to appear business-like.  I’m not sure an efficiency argument carries the day either:

Ecosystems are not just about connecting to existing resources—they help provide platforms for distributed innovation and learning:  Many executives tend to view ecosystems in static terms: diverse resources can be accessed and mobilized through ecosystems.

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