The secret of success for a winning open innovation ecosystem

What are the ingredients that make up a successful open innovation ecosystem? This was one of our key questions when we started our CLIC Innovations’ own development project “B2B Ecosystem Playbook- tools, models and services for managing B2B co-innovation and business ecosystems”. Together with University of Vaasa research team and VTT research team we have been interviewing 13 different kinds of innovation ecosystems in different European countries and Finland. Our focus has been to gather learnings, best practices and understanding from those ecosystems to manage ecosystems more successfully in the future with the tools, processes, and methods we are developing for Playbook online ecosystem facilitator service.

What are the success criteria’s for well working open innovation ecosystems?

From our research we found out that there are several common ingredients that result in well working ecosystem. I mention here some of the most fundamental aspects that need to be in place especially in the early stage of the ecosystem formation.

  1. Ecosystem needs a common reason for existence and shared vision

Ecosystems exist for different reasons, but currently most of the ecosystems are built to solve systemic challenges across different industrial sectors and scientific disciplines. We increasingly face problems, which are beyond the resources of individual operators. As the new type of co-operation models develop like ecosystem models, we need a common understanding where we are going as an ecosystem and why we are in the ecosystem.

  1. Facilitation model or governance model

Ecosystems are like Amoebas; they constantly develop and reform. In open innovation ecosystems someone needs to take the “driver seat” to steer the different partners and their needs towards the common goal. The ecosystems need a neutral facilitator, who has expertise, tools, and models to facilitate the necessary actions towards the aimed change in an open innovation spirit.

  1. Managing expectations/needs

As ecosystems comprise of different kind of actors with different kind of needs and expectations, those requirements need to be discussed and understood. A skilled facilitator knows how to manage different expectations and needs within the ecosystems and neutrally find a common ground for needed solutions.

  1. Building necessary trust

One of the most important elements in all the ecosystems and necessity for an ecosystem to thrive, is the trust within and between the ecosystem actors. The trust is a fickle thing and needs time to develop, but with the right communication and co-operation model it can be built faster.

  1. Way of working

Efficiency calls for structured way of working. Ecosystems are open, but still need minimum structures to work. This means there are certain rules, activities, roadmaps, and milestones to be agreed on. The task of the good facilitator is to make sure these exist, so the ecosystem can function efficiently.

  1. Communication

Communication, communication, and communication. Why ecosystems often fail is often a result of poor and lacking communication. Here we mean both external and internal communication, which should be planned and maintained throughout the ecosystem lifecycle.

  1. Measurable targets and common KPI’s

Measurable targets are often non-existent or not defined for ecosystem operations. One of the finding from our research has been that ecosystems tend to define targets, but those targets are defined to meet the needs of financing institutions or are project-based targets. How well ecosystems work can only be defined and measured if the ecosystem specific targets are set already early in the ecosystem exploration phase.

What is Playbook?

Playbook is an online service provided by CLIC Innovation for any ecosystem facilitator to successfully manage new, developing, and existing open innovation ecosystems. Playbook service offers free and premium tools, methods, and training opportunities to anyone interested or involved in ecosystem facilitation or orchestration. Playbook tools include work templates, testing tools, step-by-step instructions and more for any ecosystem facilitator. CLIC is now building a demo online site with Futurice, which will be ready for piloting in September 2020.

More information about Playbook project and pilot activities & opportunities: