A new and highly critical role has emerged that all organisations need to recruit for.
This role could be titled ‘Ecosystem Orchestrator’, ‘Innovation Ecosystem Strategist’, ‘Business Ecosystem Director’ or something similar.
Essentially, this role is responsible for ‘connecting-and-driving-the-ecosystem-dots’. In other words, all your external customers, academic institutions, organisations, start-ups, suppliers and/or communities who will partner for mutual value and societal impact.
As someone who would be an ideal candidate for a role like this, I recently spent some time on LinkedIn conducting a global search for people with these types of job titles.
Some progressive organisations have an individual well embedded in this role, which also gives an indication as to how far along the journey they are in terms of orchestrating business, innovation or social ecosystems. Many other organisations either do not have this role, have a role that only partially addresses its requirements or that address this role in a consulting capacity alone.
Why this new role is so critical
Organisations are no longer operating in silos. They are working together as problem solvers and solution co-creators around a shared interest, irrespective of size or type of organisation.
Corporates, academic researchers and start-ups are innovating products together.
Retailers, tech companies and product manufacturers are collectively building omnichannel customer solutions.
Cross-industry stakeholders such as financial institutions and telecommunications companies are providing innovative solutions for massive and more inclusive customer value chains.
Tech organisations and educators are partnering around evolving learning and development solutions for future-orientated learners.
Social organisations are forming ecosystems with other social organisations and corporates to accelerate and extend their impact range.
Communities are forming who want decentralized options to serve their needs that no-one owns, but that enable shared value creation.
The list goes on.
My point is that the way the world operates has shifted from internal worlds that serve and work with external worlds, to merged worlds where evolving solutions to ever-changing problems are always in play.
What the role requirements would be
A role like this would require a combination of strategic thinking, relationship-building, relationship-management, structure development, innovation, product or solution development, product or solution impact and cross-organisational people management capabilities. It is, to say the least, quite a complex role.
The competencies of this role would include abilities to:
- Map out an entire business ecosystem and link it to the ecosystem strategy for the organisations and to ultimately enable this to become the organisational strategy.
- Determine and communicate the purpose and impact of the ecosystem.
- Attract the right ecosystem role-players and ensure they play their part using an effective value-exchange strategy for role-players
- Build and test a minimum viable version of the business, innovation or social ecosystem where it is proven that the structures and role-players of the ecosystem can produce effective and highly impactful solutions or products together before investing in too many resources.
- Orchestrate all the puzzle pieces of the full version of this ecosystem, ensuring all stakeholders are playing their part, that the strategic objectives of the ecosystem are being met and that the solutions that serve the ecosystem are making their intended impact.
What this role is NOT
Many recruiters are confusing this role with other, existing roles.
Someone who directs an ecosystem can certainly have project management, supply chain management or business development skills to augment and help achieve the objectives of their role, but their ability to successfully connect and harmonize the right combinations of complex role-players to achieve the right ecosystem outputs with the right ecosystem strategy is unique to this role.
Therefore, an Ecosystem Orchestrator should not be a project manager, a supply chain manager or a business developer in job title. This limits the full potential of what a role such as this can bring to an organisation.
Types of talent who would meet the role requirements
Recruiters need to find the rare talent who can go beyond strategic and systems thinking and into the realm of ecosystems thinking.
These individuals will have a broad cross-section of work and life experience. They will have worked in a variety of environments. They will have participated in organisations both large and small, in different types of organisations such as corporate, academic, social and often across different industries (although they may be stronger in one particular industry.)
They will have courageously built up teams made up of both internal and external stakeholders, with agile teams that span boundaries.
Often, their CV will show projects where they initiated and then led co-creative efforts that resulted in impactful products or solutions.
In terms of personality, they will be strong drivers and implementers. They will have a motivational streak and the ability to inspire diverse groupings of people and organisations to achieve a powerful, common vision together.
They will be lateral and non-linear in their approach to work and life, not necessarily logical thinkers. This means that you may be eliminating the best ecosystem orchestrators by putting them through logical reasoning tests at the beginning of recruitment processes.
They will be self-starters and entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial in nature.
They will have felt like disruptors in the past, but will have honed this into a skill where they feel more like innovation enablers.
You can spot them in organisations because they are the ones constantly drawing diagrams on whiteboards to communicate all the stakeholder dots they see connecting in their minds.
While the role titled ‘Director of Innovation Ecosystems’ may be still be hard to find on LinkedIn, I believe it is a role that is becoming more ubiquitous by the day. Soon every organisation who wants to make difference will have someone in this role.
As a message to all recruiters, hiring managers and those Executives looking for external advisory to help them with their ecosystems: We, the Ecosystem Orchestrators, are out there, our ecosystem mindsets and skillsets honed to a tee during times of the pandemic, waiting for your organisations to bring us in, so that we may unleash the latent value from every role-player possible and culminate this combined value into world-shaping solutions.