Namibia Trade Network 2020/21

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Debbie Rowles believes the magic-makers have the ability to change the world through the power of human-centred, purpose-led strategy & brands. In a nutshell she is a: Solutionist | Thinker | Starts with Why activist | Brand purpose addict | Curator | Strategist | Works consciously | Treads lightly. As a purpose-led strategist she has more than twenty years of experience in brand management, business strategy and management consulting in numerous industries for some of the most sought-after corporate and consumer brands. She now works as a Strategist, Solutionist & Thinker under her own brand ThinkHumanBeing.

Susan Nel

At its simplest level an ecosystem is a community or group of living organisms that live and interact with each other and the non-living elements of the environment in which they live. Natural ecosystems are balanced systems that ensure sustainability & survival – cultivating mutual benefit for all. All the members of the system are interconnected, so the loss or change of one factor can have large effects rippling through the entire ecosystem.


Debbie Rowles

hat is true – is that we live in a world of ecosystems. An ecosystem is a series of relationships that work together to create balance. The thing is the theory of ecosystems and systems thinking implies that you work together in balance to create something of good. If you truly apply systems thinking you need to take into account that the environment is part of your ecosystem. No business ecosystem on earth is sustainable without two critical factors that live outside of your organisation- the people & the planet. In fact - that is all a business is - a collection of people providing value (services &/ goods) to another group of people who all have one thing in common – the environment they operate in. The rise of the ecosystems buzzword has led us all to believe that we require a new way of thinking about our businesses — the ecosystems perspective. Whilst it may just


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be a buzzword that has recently come back into management circles – the heart of ecosystem thinking provides us with an opportunity to become much more relevant through sustainable strategies that in turn drive business resilience. You can call your current structure a network, system or stakeholder strategy, but if you want to call it an ECOsystem, it involves a profound shift in perspective. Can you take a step back & think about the system your business or product is a part of & how you are part of the greater system, what your role is within that system and how you are able to influence the system you operate in to create shared value for everyone in the value chain. This new perspective is critical if you want to shift from operating in an egosystem to an ecosystem. Let’s have a look at the essence of business ecosystems in relation to the origin of the thinking.

One of the key indicators of a healthy business ecosystem is that it should enable companies to evolve together, shifting the focus to co-creation rather than competition. Everyone in the ecosystem should be getting what they need and contributing what they have to create value that can be shared so that benefits are shared across the entire system. In this definition market success would include benefit for your suppliers, producers, users, employees and everyone else involved in your business. Creating a business ecosystem with the right people or partners is critical to sustainability. These need to be authentic relationships driven by a common purpose or intention. If we start to look at our competitors as co-creators within our category – what would innovation look like & how would our consumers benefit? In nature ecosystems can be of different sizes and can be marine, aquatic, or terrestrial. Similarly in the business world, there are a number of ecosystems that can be at play. An ecosystem doesn’t magically appear, it will come as part of a purposeful strategic planning process through a drive to create value across the chain for your customers. Ecosystem thinking can be of huge value for a small business because it allows you the opportunity to access resources that you may never had had within your own business. Once