The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Greg Bernarda 'Leading Ecosystems'

John Carter
September 1, 2023
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Greg Bernarda 'Leading Ecosystems'

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Hey folks and welcome to another cracking episode on This is HCD.

Way back in 2017, I caught up with Greg Bernarda, Co-author of the best selling innovation book, Value Proposition Design by Strategyzer. I've known Greg for a long time, and in this episode we reflect on where the time between books, where he sees Value Proposition Design and also the Business Model Canvas in the current world.

I truly respect Greg's mind and brain as one of the best thinkers around, and so too do Thinkers50 - a regular speaker at the their events. We tap into the work he's being doing around Leading Ecosystems, vs products or services. We speak about what business model's look like within organisations at the macular and also at scale.

If you are working in spaces where you are trying to nudge the system towards becoming more customer or human-led, I think you will get a lot from this episode

Now, before we jump in, today's episode is brought to you by our good friends at MIRO. I use MIRO on nearly all of my online training sessions with clients. I want to tell you why. In today's digital age, remote work is becoming increasingly common. MIRO is built with remote collaboration in mind, enabling teams to collaborate effectively, no matter where they are. One of the features that I haven't actually used until recently was the video conferencing feature from inside the application. This takes is to the next level!and think you will like it too

Now, let's get into Greg's episode..

Gregs links

Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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[00:00:00] Hey folks. And welcome to another cracking episode of this is a CD. Way back in 2017, I caught up with Greg Bernarda co-author of the best-selling innovation book value proposition design by strategizer. No, I've known Greg for a very long time. And in this episode, we reflect on where things are at in between books and where he sees value proposition design, and also the business model canvas in the current world that we find ourselves in. And I truly respect Greg's mind and brain is one of the best thinkers around. And so to, to thinkers, 50, a regular speaker at their events. And we tap into the work that Greg has been doing around leading ecosystems, which is a bit of a different way [00:01:00] of thinking about systems such as product systems or service systems. Now we speak about what business models look like within organizations, both at the macular and also at scale. So if you're working in spaces where you're trying to nudge that system forward to becoming a more customer or human led, I think you're going to get an awful lot out of this episode. Now, before we jump into today's episode. Today it's been brought by our wonderful friends at Miro. I use mural nearly an all of my online training sessions with clients on a one to tell you why. In today's digital age, remote work is becoming increasingly common. Miro is built with remote collaboration in mind, enabling teams to collaborate effectively, no matter where they are. One of the features that I haven't actually used up until recently. I was the video conferencing feature from within, inside the application. And this takes it to the next level. And I think you're going to like it too. So check out forward slash [00:02:00] podcast. Where you can sign up for three free canvases for life. For free. Now let's get straight into Greg's episode.

[00:02:09] Gerry Scullion: Greg, Bernarda, I'm delighted to have you back in the podcast. Um, you know, we've spoken, you were one of the very first guests in This is HCD way back in 2017. Um, but we were just chatting there about the good times that we had pre pandemic where we caught up in Dublin and showed you around, uh, Dublin and even caught up with Gerry Mcgarver, which we'll chat a little bit more about maybe, but maybe for our listeners who've been living under a rock and maybe you don't know who you are.

[00:02:37] Gerry Scullion: Maybe start off, tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're from and what you do.

[00:02:42] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, good to see you, Jerry. A lot of things have changed, but not your glasses. I'm glad to, I'm glad to

[00:02:47] Gerry Scullion: They have changed. How dare you?

[00:02:48] Greg Bernarda: have?

[00:02:49] Gerry Scullion: I

[00:02:51] Greg Bernarda: Oops. Alright.

[00:02:52] Gerry Scullion: These are relatively new, but they're a nuance. They're a little bit different.

[00:02:56] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, I thought, yeah, okay. Okay. They [00:03:00] fit you well.

[00:03:00] Gerry Scullion: great as ever though, Greg, you still look as great, like, you know, tan, black shirt, the whole lot going on. So where are you based now?

[00:03:09] Greg Bernarda: in Zurich, which is not really where I get my time, but I do go in the mountains a lot, uh, for hikes. So based in Zurich, I'm from the French part of the country, though, that's maybe what you can hear in the accent of the French part of Switzerland. Look, I mean, my journey, I started my career at the World Economic Forum, if you remember that.

[00:03:32] Greg Bernarda: And. I was there for eight years, 2000, 2008, and I got really inspired by the idea of, um, we used to call it collaborative innovation at the time, this was to, you know, draw a contrast between, when I joined, you had one person speaking to 800 people, and then we thought, okay, maybe the 800 people have something to say back and contribute to the conversation, and we got involved into all sorts of, uh, new formats and [00:04:00] things, and, uh, you know, to create the What today we would call co creation and, uh, and community, uh, you know, uh, kind of looking at, at a, at a topic more holistically.

[00:04:11] Greg Bernarda: So that's where I started, then, uh, went out and, and created my own practice, independent practice, applying this world of collaboration to questions of innovation and strategy. And in the process, Um, I, I reconnected with a friend of mine called Alex Osterwalder, whom you know and you know, a lot of the folks around him, uh, strategizer, business model, canvas, and all of this.

[00:04:40] Greg Bernarda: And, um, yeah, we, he invited me to be part of the second book in the series called value proposition design. So I'm a coauthor of this book.

[00:04:48] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:04:49] Greg Bernarda: And basically in my practice, we can talk about what I'm up to today, but basically my practice, um, helping people with, uh, reinvention, innovation, um, [00:05:00] getting them to work together in new ways and to see new possibilities.

[00:05:05] Greg Bernarda: I think that's one big part of the job. And then to, uh, enable them to, to, to act on it. That's, uh, that's the gist of it.

[00:05:13] Gerry Scullion: absolutely. Yeah. It's a brilliant summary of where you're up to. And we're going to be talking a little bit more around, I guess, leading ecosystems and the work that you're doing at the moment, but just on the value proposition design piece, like you've, I don't know how old that is now, maybe eight, nine years old.

[00:05:27] Gerry Scullion: Is this something around that?

[00:05:28] Greg Bernarda: Uh, uh, nine. Yeah. Nine.

[00:05:30] Gerry Scullion: And nine years old, so with the benefit of reflection, how would be anything that you would have changed, uh, about that, that piece of work now that you see the world that we're in at the moment, what would you, or is there anything in that book that you'd say, actually, you know what, if we were to do it again, we might do it a bit different?

[00:05:52] Greg Bernarda: You know, the book, the subtitle of the book is called, um, so it's design designing. [00:06:00] Actually, I have to remember what it is, but it's creating, creating things. People want something like that.

[00:06:04] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, yeah,

[00:06:06] Greg Bernarda: I would add a really in the sentence, creating things people really want because. you know, that's a personal, um, you know, um, bias of mine or sensitivity of mine, but I really feel that innovation can be focused on, uh, you can do innovation for innovation, business for business.

[00:06:26] Greg Bernarda: And

[00:06:27] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:06:28] Greg Bernarda: nowadays, what I feel we need to do is really connect the practice, the power of innovation and business to what. It is really needed in the world, and there's just an immense amount of, uh, yeah, skill, capability and power in, you know, with everybody around the world that's working in the space of innovation.

[00:06:49] Greg Bernarda: But sometimes I feel there's a bit of a distance between what, what is really needed, you know, in, in the world. So I would add really in that title

[00:06:56] Gerry Scullion: yeah, that's really nice.

[00:06:58] Greg Bernarda: Um,

[00:06:58] Gerry Scullion: There's, you know, [00:07:00] we can automatically fall into the, the kind of, the assumption that everything that we produce, um, as long as it's been validated. And the, you know, the desire is there that they really want it, and that's not always true, hence why we've got ourselves in the situation where you might have 10 different toothbrushes or, you know, all of these different pieces where ultimately they do the same job.

[00:07:26] Gerry Scullion: So what's driving that like with your experience now with leading ecosystems, and I love the fact that you're you're working into that space, which kind of. Lends itself to systems thinking and service design. What is causing that need to um, you know, create within the organizations? What's driving that?

[00:07:49] Greg Bernarda: In the organizations themselves, what's driving that? Well, there is, um, there's obviously kind of a an economic dynamic there where, [00:08:00] you know, for a long time, I think you could run a business with the same business model and business model wasn't even a term because we didn't have to think about it. And so for 50 years, you do the same thing.

[00:08:12] Greg Bernarda: You'd be really good at execution and you know, you'd had your vision and mission. Plastered on the wall, and you just follow that, right? And then we became, or we kind of started entering an era, maybe 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even more where things accelerated, and, you know, we hear it everywhere, things are moving faster, etc.

[00:08:35] Greg Bernarda: So as an organization, as a unit, you can't just rely on the same thing, and you have to also think about What is next? How do I reinvent myself and how do I create new value in the world in this world? That is that keeps changing and used to be just a few sectors or a few companies It used to be just startups and now it's really everybody's lot I think there's just a few industries that [00:09:00] are still a little bit protected from that But I think there is an imperative to to for for innovation nowadays for reinvention

[00:09:09] Gerry Scullion: It's funny because The, the old self of me would have been like, yeah, we need to innovate quicker and faster and stuff. But when you look at the older businesses that, um, you know, were relatively static as regards their business models, and they were doubling down on the execution and stuff, they weren't producing things that people Okay.

[00:09:28] Gerry Scullion: Didn't really need just to lean into your, your kind of the sub title in value proposition design and the world that we find ourselves in now in, you know, climate change, you know, vast amounts of plastic being used. What does that look like in terms of the longer term? Like, has that acceleration proved to put ourselves in a better position than we were maybe with the static business model?

[00:09:57] Greg Bernarda: Well, so, I mean, it's, [00:10:00] we, we've kind of followed. So if, if you follow this, this idea that every organization needs to reinvent themselves, that, that's still kind of. following the logic of the organization of the survival of the organization, right? And the reason I'm looking at ecosystem, I was always interested in systems thinking, because I feel like it's really hard, at least in my head to isolate, you know, to do this feature really well, but not think about the, the old context and the system around it.

[00:10:27] Greg Bernarda: Um, and I feel that the, the, the, you know, the entrepreneurs, the founders, the innovators that inspire me most have always not a new thing, but have throughout the years have always had this perspective of, let's not just think about our organization, but let's be in the business in order to have an impact at the societal level or at the level of, you know, however you want to define it, but at the collective level.

[00:10:55] Greg Bernarda: And so if we don't do that, I think we just follow that logic. And like you say, it's [00:11:00] more plastic. It's more. externalities, as, you know, economists would call it, and that, that there's something missing in that equation.

[00:11:08] Gerry Scullion: there's definitely a lack of consideration around the end cycle of the experience and what happens at the end of experience. And there's a huge opportunity, I guess, generally to, I think we spoke about this when we were in the, in the car, we were driving around Dublin. Um, I was like, there's a bit at the, in the value proposition piece, or even in the business model canvas about the impact on the earth.

[00:11:34] Gerry Scullion: And what does that look like? And that's the bit that I was kind of I guess alluding to in the gaps, I guess. We probably could rethink to have a deeper sense of ethical considerations around what we create.

[00:11:50] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, 100%. Well, yeah, I mean, so the really want part is, is one way of opening that, that,

[00:11:59] Gerry Scullion: love it, yeah.[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] Greg Bernarda: right? But, but that's the, the space of how do I understand what people want, really want. And, and if I dig deep here, I understand that maybe they don't want five more toothbrushes, but they have, you know, needs and, um, you know, they want to thrive.

[00:12:18] Greg Bernarda: They want to be healthy. They want to, they want to enable themselves to be independent and all of these things. But, and if you pull that thread, then you get to really interesting and juicy questions for which we don't always have. An answer, but that are really interesting to study in terms of innovation and to actually try and solve, but that's one bit.

[00:12:39] Greg Bernarda: And you are leading to the other bit, which is the bit of the creator, right? How as me as a creator, how do I think of the system that I create in order for it to be, um, basically healthy for nature, for society, uh, and so on and so forth.

[00:12:57] Greg Bernarda: Right. And you see that a lot in business [00:13:00] books, there's a theory that says, Oh, you know, do this and your business will be great. And then everybody's like, yeah, okay. But can we apply this to social issues? And then there is like a, Uh, uh, uh, uh, you know, a two page addendum or leaflet after or something, but it's not, it's an afterthought, you know, and what I feel is, well, let's start with that because why, you know, kind of, you know, ignore this, this, this thing from, from the start.

[00:13:28] Greg Bernarda: So, yeah, I think the, you know, this new generation, I think is kind of more, more, uh, naturally thinking about this, this wider picture to start

[00:13:40] Gerry Scullion: I mean, I had a fascinating conversation with somebody yesterday, which I'll be publishing in the next couple of weeks. His name is Ben Dunn Flores and he's from the UK and We had a great conversation about challenging the home ownership model and how we can [00:14:00] actually enable co op schemes to own houses.

[00:14:05] Gerry Scullion: It was a great conversation and as we were just ending up the conversation and we were saying our goodbyes, I said, I have to ask you a question. How old are you? I said, because his wisdom was from like somebody in their 40s, okay, someone who's been through the process. I'm 23

[00:14:22] Greg Bernarda: Wow.

[00:14:22] Gerry Scullion: and I'm like, wow, I said, your, your knowledge of economics and your knowledge of this really complex system is absolutely sensational.

[00:14:32] Gerry Scullion: And I've noticed that from speaking to lots of people, lots of listeners. And just generally people at conferences that I've been speaking at, the next generation, I describe them as having teeth, they're ready to sink their teeth into these problems and really shake the system. So they get a huge kind of rap on social media as being kind of snowflakes and all of these terms being bandied around.

[00:14:57] Gerry Scullion: I completely disagree. I think the next [00:15:00] generation are ready for the fight and they're ready to stand up for what they believe in. So it's, it's really important for us in our position within the industry to be ready for that and to become enablers.

[00:15:15] Greg Bernarda: Enablers. Absolutely. I love this term because I agree with that assessment. I think at least one part of the next generation. I think there are issues as well that

[00:15:26] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:15:27] Greg Bernarda: if you're not, um, And if you don't know who you are and what you want, et cetera, there's so much noise and distractions. Nowadays, it's really hard for young people, I find.

[00:15:39] Greg Bernarda: So there's something we can do to help there, but for the ones that are ready to go, let's absolutely enable them. Let's also connect them to, uh, you know, is involved in another project, but enable, enable the connection with the people in power. that are sitting in powerful positions and are also looking for new [00:16:00] ideas.

[00:16:00] Greg Bernarda: I think that that connection is important to make. Um, you

[00:16:04] Gerry Scullion: absolutely. And that distinction is really important as well. Like, I don't mean to have a really big brush and say everyone between these ages is going to be you know, up for the fight. And it's also a little bit of the conferences that I've been speaking at and the people that I meet and the people who listen to this podcast in particular, and the people I contact to.

[00:16:21] Gerry Scullion: So the, I guess the signal to noise ratio is somewhat a little bit different for me because I'm speaking to those, those people, but generally like every generation. They have their own kind of set of constraints and issues going on. So let's talk about your, um, I know we were back and forth in the last couple of days, um, and the title of one of the talks that you gave recently was leading ecosystem, leading ecosystems, not organizations.

[00:16:50] Greg Bernarda: Hmm.

[00:16:50] Gerry Scullion: Where did this title come from, Greg? Um, I love it by the way. I love the title of it because there's a really nice distinction on the focus and the emphasis on the ecosystem versus the [00:17:00] organization. But Where did you see this? Um, this need for this to coming from?

[00:17:06] Greg Bernarda: Yeah. So it came from two places. One was this kind of lifelong interests. Um, of seeing business actors as part of, um, you know, part of the solution for, for societal issues. You know, I, I, I, it's, it's, it's just like something that, you know, with the WEF, et cetera, we were talking about these things already, uh.

[00:17:32] Greg Bernarda: You know, 20 years ago, obviously, and it's it's not new, and it's something that I feel needs to happen more and more and that the world is ready for him. I think you need to explain it less to people why this is important. And so I kind of see this trend, right? Um, and the other angle is, uh, it was just seeing organization that feel maybe stuck, right?

[00:17:54] Greg Bernarda: But they're looking for growth. They're looking to unlock. kind of new possibilities. And [00:18:00] if they keep thinking about to use, you know, the, the, the modeling language, if they keep thinking of just their product, their value proposition and the business model, well, they kind of thinking inside the box, right?

[00:18:12] Greg Bernarda: I feel. you know, in the same way that we had this transition from not just thinking about product, but thinking about the business model, that's a new, that's a more complex system. Now, I think there's a jump from, uh, yeah, just thinking of the business model to thinking about architecting the ecosystem or being part of a new architecture of the ecosystem, which allows you to do more and to unlock new possibilities for your organization too.

[00:18:38] Greg Bernarda: So it's kind of coming from both

[00:18:41] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, they're like the components, the pieces that are required to enable that ecosystem to thrive. Is that a fair comment?

[00:18:51] Greg Bernarda: yes, exactly. So, yeah. So the way I think about it, if, if, you know, the way sometimes I introduce it is that there's kind of these three levels of [00:19:00] innovation. One is the value proposition and we had the value proposition canvas for that. Then you have the value propositions contained within the business model.

[00:19:08] Greg Bernarda: And so we have the business model is the canvas for that. And so the, your business model is also contained in a larger web or formula of value creation that has other components. So it has other business models in there, has infrastructure, has other things that we can talk about. And so if you want to unlock a higher, um, higher, you know, potential for value creation, well, you have to play at that level.

[00:19:36] Greg Bernarda: And in the same way that there was a shift from If you have a product mindset, you can only go so far, you know, think about it as a, from a business model standpoint and it unlocks all sorts of things. I think here is the same thing. You, if you don't just think about your organization, your business model, but if you think of that wider array of, of, uh, of elements to play with, [00:20:00] then you're going to unlock new things. Yeah.

[00:20:02] Gerry Scullion: I love it. Like Mark Stickthorne, who's a good collaborator and a good friend of the podcast, who wrote, this is service design thinking, and this is service design doing those two great books, um, alongside other contributors like Adam and Marcus and Jakob, but they, he's got a framework called journey map operations, where https: otter.

[00:20:24] Gerry Scullion: ai I guess the service, uh, that their own organization delivers for the organization. And at the very highest level is the management visibility that becomes ultimately like a dashboard of how the ecosystem is performing.

[00:20:38] Greg Bernarda: Mm hmm. Mm

[00:20:39] Gerry Scullion: when we think about that, and I probably should connect both of these up to talk about this because there's potentially some sort of collaboration or conversations to be had around that.

[00:20:50] Gerry Scullion: What does that look like? Like, if you're working at that more zoomed out Business model if you want, business model is being like the meat in the pie and you've got multiple business [00:21:00] models happening congruently. What are the bits that underpin at the zoom level, like that's the furthest out? What, what are those components that you see as being critical for the success of the ecosystem to thrive?

[00:21:14] Greg Bernarda: So there's, um, in the same way that you have nine building blocks for a business model, I see that you have three essential, uh, things to play with at the level of the business model, at the level of the ecosystem. Sorry. So one is. It's, uh, you want to think of the constellation of actors that you bring on board.

[00:21:35] Greg Bernarda: And typically what we see again and again, when there is an ecosystem being created, you know, ecosystems become buzzword now. Um, the, the ones who are creating them don't care about industry boundaries, right? They don't care about the usual collaborations. They don't care about who your supply chain is, et cetera.

[00:21:56] Greg Bernarda: What they do is that they align themselves to a purpose, [00:22:00] and then they find the right players to come together in a new web of value creation. And so it's not just thinking about your business model, but it's thinking about what could be also the business model of all these other players, what binds them together.

[00:22:16] Greg Bernarda: to come together. And so, and so you see unusual actors typically that by definition, right? People you would not expect. So that's number one. The second thing is because an ecosystem typically When you're transforming them, um, they don't, um, they don't have a infrastructure to, to, uh, to support it. You're going to have as the leader of the ecosystem, you're going to have to create that infrastructure.

[00:22:46] Greg Bernarda: You're going to have pieces that exist here and there, but your job as an ecosystem leader is to, Build the missing pieces of the infrastructure and connect the dots, connect them together so that it [00:23:00] empowers users, collaborators, et cetera. So ecosystem actors, infrastructure. And the third one is what I call communal functions and communal functions comes from, um, you know, I have this metaphor that a ecosystem leader, uh, is acts like a mayor.

[00:23:18] Greg Bernarda: Uh, as opposed to, uh, a CEO, you know, CEO looks after their own house, but a mayor has to look after the entire village, has to build the bridges, has to build the schools, et cetera. Some of these things, a lot of these things are not, uh, for profit. And so if you are an ecosystem player. You have to think about these things as well.

[00:23:39] Greg Bernarda: So you have to sometimes inspire people, you have to educate or upskill the train, you know, your stakeholders, you have sometimes to subsidize them. You have sometimes to enable them, you know, Tesla giving their patents for free to the competition. So those are behaviors that are. not business as usual. Um, [00:24:00] and, uh, and yeah, they're kind of a new, um, a new behavior in order to match the new parameter that you play in.

[00:24:11] Gerry Scullion: I love that mayor piece and I'm, I'm actually stealing that right as we, as we speak at the moment. I'm going to use that in one of my talks. The mayor piece is really nice and the distinction between the CEO and that mayor function. Who, who typically does the mayor function in the ecosystems that you're seeing and working with?

[00:24:32] Greg Bernarda: Yeah. So, I mean, it has to be a, it could be a founder, right? What's that?

[00:24:38] Gerry Scullion: Like a COO?

[00:24:40] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, but I think it has to be the top of the organization, because you, you know, so it could be CEO and board, I would say, to have that kind of vision, because it's typically also long term. That may have function. Yeah, that may have function has to be at the top of the organization.

[00:24:55] Greg Bernarda: Uh, it's also a long term effort, right? These ecosystems get [00:25:00] built in 10, 15 years, not in, you know, three years or so you have to have the backbone and the leadership to carry it forward. But what I

[00:25:11] Gerry Scullion: You're literally bang on on the numbers that I've seen, like I just had a call with somebody who was chief level in one of the banks in Australia before this call. And we were talking about the estimated time for the transformations to occur, like, you know, and my previous case study that I spoke about was with Cochlear, the medical device business in Australia, and we pinpointed it to be about 10 or 11 years.

[00:25:35] Gerry Scullion: But it's funny, this person, um, who will be on the podcast in a couple of weeks, it's like 15 to 16 years, he said, that's how long it took. And I'm like, wow, okay, I couldn't believe it. So it's funny, like two congruent calls saying exactly the same number. It's, it's

[00:25:49] Greg Bernarda: yeah, yeah, yeah. It's interesting. It

[00:25:52] Gerry Scullion: It takes a long time,

[00:25:55] Greg Bernarda: like everything's moving very fast, but ultimately,[00:26:00]

[00:26:01] Gerry Scullion: So things are moving very, very fast. Um, and things are taking an awful long time to mature. What are the behaviors that you're seeing at the macro level? At the day level, at the minute level that are the distinguishing factors for organizations to become successful. So what are the things that these organizations are doing?

[00:26:27] Gerry Scullion: Um, that's part of their DNA that ultimately will allow them to ensure that in 15, 16 years time, they're going to be kicking goals.

[00:26:36] Greg Bernarda: [00:27:00] Yeah, well, I can give you my thoughts on this ecosystem, you know, keeping kind of with this ecosystem lens. Um, my observation is that And it's kind of congruent with the mayor analogy. Mayor doesn't have a business mission. Normally a mayor, if it's a good mayor, has a societal purpose, right? It's there for societal purpose.

[00:27:56] Greg Bernarda: And if you look at the ecosystems out there, you know, Tesla [00:28:00] could be one, Alibaba could be one, Intel in the eighties was one, there's, there's many around. Uh, they typically define what they do in societal term, or at least in collective term. And, and they actually deliver on them as well. You know, it's the, um, this famous blog post from, uh, from Elon Musk.

[00:28:20] Greg Bernarda: I don't know if you've ever come

[00:28:21] Gerry Scullion: Remember yeah. Okay.

[00:28:22] Greg Bernarda: In 2006, and he was kind of giving you the, the steps towards, uh, realizing his vision. His vision was about an electric economy. It wasn't about building cars. And it's kind of the same everywhere, you know, there's, there's, uh, uh, yeah, success defined in societal terms.

[00:28:41] Greg Bernarda: Um, so that's, that's the, the number one thing. Um, and then it's, it's kind of doing. It's shifting your identity from the organization to the ecosystem means that you need to care for the, for the prosperity of the ecosystem, right? It [00:29:00] becomes part of your job. You can't just look after your own piece. You have to look after how does the whole succeed as well as how do the parts, the individual parts succeed, not just yours.

[00:29:14] Greg Bernarda: That's why earlier I was saying, you know, you kind of have to help others as part of this ecosystem to join this new world that you're creating. So those are some of the behaviors. And, uh, just one more I'll mention, uh, there's also this, this idea of managing timeframes in parallel, different timeframes in parallel.

[00:29:33] Greg Bernarda: So, you know, the 10, 15 year timeframe, that's not a practical timeframe. You have to have it, but you can't just like hide in a corner for 10, 15 years and then say, boom, you know, here's the ecosystem. So what, what I see these businesses do is that they have this vision. They're very clear. But they kind of built, built, uh, incrementally towards it kind of one business model at a time.

[00:29:57] Greg Bernarda: You know, so they build something practical [00:30:00] that's, that works in market terms, uh, is profitable, sustainable at least. And at the same time, it anchors assets towards the bigger vision. So it's kind of like to keep with, uh, the Tesla analogy, you know, you have cars, uh, but you're, you're building, you know, one piece of infrastructure at a time, charging stations, partnerships, et cetera.

[00:30:24] Greg Bernarda: Uh, so that you can unlock new things, new cars and, you know, the solar panels and the battery walls and, and, and, and on and on towards kind of this integrated system that, that is the ultimate vision.

[00:30:40] Gerry Scullion: so with leading ecosystems versus thinking about it from an organizational, traditional organizational perspective, those systems, you know, and I know, and the listeners know are complex. They're complex in their very nature. Um, When you have [00:31:00] competing actors in there that might want to nudge in opposite directions, how do you handle that?

[00:31:08] Gerry Scullion: Because I'm keen to understand your, your perspective on that. Because if you've got, if you take the zoomed outlook and you've got two business models going in opposite directions, how do you manage that? Because you're, you're trying to nudge them closer towards, uh, the, the same goals.

[00:31:24] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, well, I'll answer, I'll answer in a roundabout way

[00:31:29] Gerry Scullion: Come on, let's do it.

[00:31:30] Greg Bernarda: that's because that's something I feel quite, I feel there's a lot of juice in this. So as soon as we as human beings, we see kind of a complex system. We, we have a tendency to think mechanically about it, you know, to think about it in a linear way, meaning that.

[00:31:48] Gerry Scullion: Hundred percent.

[00:31:50] Greg Bernarda: So meaning, uh, okay, so now what's the plan and how are we going to get this actor to join in this one and how do they get connected together? It's like a, it's like a bit of an engineer's mindset [00:32:00] and what I feel we have to kind of, I feel we have to upgrade ourselves from this engineer mindset. To more of an artist mindset and all great artists are great, you know, they know their craft very well.

[00:32:13] Greg Bernarda: They're good at technical stuff and all great engineers are artists you could say as well. So it's not to, you know, to, uh, to categorize one or the other, but you have to, to have a new sense of how you're relating to your complex, the complexity of the object or the situation that you're dealing with.

[00:32:32] Greg Bernarda: And so sometimes in, um, I have a little, little test that I run that I stole from, uh, you must know him, um, um, Sagmeister, uh, in, in New York. You know about him, no? Designer guy in, uh, forget his first name now. But I was in a, in a conference once in Zurich and I saw him do this. Sagmeister, uh, I

[00:32:54] Gerry Scullion: How many sliders?

[00:32:56] Greg Bernarda: name, Sagmeister.

[00:32:57] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, he's a Viennese architect, um, [00:33:00] designer based in New York.

[00:33:02] Gerry Scullion: Okay.

[00:33:02] Greg Bernarda: about beauty. And so he was running this, he ran this test in that conference. He shows you two Mondrian paintings. You know Mondrian? I don't know if you're just, uh, you know, the, the lines and the, the yellow, blue and red squares and a lot of white space

[00:33:19] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, it's lovely. It's

[00:33:21] Greg Bernarda: yeah.

[00:33:22] Greg Bernarda: So he shows you one that is an original one and one that is a fake one. You don't know which is which.

[00:33:28] Gerry Scullion: all

[00:33:28] Greg Bernarda: and then he gets the audience to say, you know, point to me the one that you think is the original and 90% of the audience guess guesses like systematically and they do. That's his explanation. And I, I feel really strongly about that too.

[00:33:43] Greg Bernarda: They do because they recognize, you know, you could call it beauty or elegance, wholeness. order, right? There's something in us as human beings that recognizes when something is right. And so he says the same thing about [00:34:00] the painter himself, Mondrian. Mondrian wasn't trying to, you know, try to align two lines together and put the blue box in the right corner, etc.

[00:34:10] Greg Bernarda: He was just trying to get to something beautiful. And I find that's a great metaphor to deal with ecosystems because you can't just, you know, a lot of people are asking what's the, what's the dashboard, what are the metrics, et cetera. And fine, you know, we can, we can go there, but you can't, if you go too much in that direction, you kill your own ability to understand how you relate to this complex object of ecosystem.

[00:34:34] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:34:35] Greg Bernarda: And so, you know, you have to think about the organizing principle of the ecosystem. If in the painting of the Mondrian painting is beauty here in the ecosystem, you want to think of something like what is the meaning you're trying to create? What is the societal vision? You know, how are you going to get to wholeness?

[00:34:52] Greg Bernarda: How are you going to get to this sense of harmony where these actors are all getting something and being fine with it with a new equilibrium. [00:35:00] So that's where I start with this

[00:35:02] Gerry Scullion: absolutely. It echoes a conversation. I have a meal. These fears and who's the author of notes of complexity a book that is. sensational, and I keep on mentioning it and people will be sick of me talking about Neil's work, but it was part of the keynote that I gave at Scotland this year around embracing the complexity mindset.

[00:35:27] Gerry Scullion: And I have a deep fascination with starling murmurations and ant colonies. And one of the appreciations that you understand the principles of how they work, and when you start to have those understanding of the principles, You start to see the beauty in what's happening. So my children, who used to stand on the ants, now stand back and they marvel, and I'm like, we know what they're doing, don't we?

[00:35:53] Gerry Scullion: We can talk about it. So it's really understanding the principles and the levers, or levers, [00:36:00] on what is happening. And understanding our own input and involvement and how you can disturb the ecosystem is really, really important.

[00:36:09] Greg Bernarda: exactly.

[00:36:11] Gerry Scullion: So that's, that's kind of what I'm hearing in, in what you're talking there.

[00:36:16] Gerry Scullion: Um, in terms of the understanding of complexity, in terms of, um, leaning into the work, um, have you ever heard of Dave Snowden? Uh, Dave Snowden in terms of Snowden's work in and Stacey's work in what you're talking about here must be very important. It must be considered like the work Dave's going to be on the podcast in a couple of weeks.

[00:36:40] Gerry Scullion: So we'll be talking about some of this stuff, but It's Um, When, when an organization has that visibility, um, that, that broader, um, I, I don't want to call that a canvas, but something that sits above the business model, who, who is that for [00:37:00] within the

[00:37:01] Greg Bernarda: for? What terms?

[00:37:02] Gerry Scullion: In terms of who, who, who are we creating that, um, that vision for, like that, is that if it's a canvas, who, who in the organization do you feel is going to be the recipient of, of that visibility?

[00:37:18] Greg Bernarda: Yeah,

[00:37:19] Gerry Scullion: the business model is owned by the product manager or the COO, whoever it is within that relevant department, who's the one out front? Who's going to be working into that and who's going to manage it? Hmm.

[00:37:32] Greg Bernarda: Yeah. So it's, it depends as an organization, what role you're playing in the ecosystem. Uh, a lot of these examples I've mentioned Alibaba, Tesla, et cetera, they're, you could say they're, they're leaders of their own ecosystem. They create a whole new thing. And so they're the mayor of the ecosystem. And therefore the role is.

[00:37:55] Greg Bernarda: the founder, the CEO, together with the board, the highest level of the organization. [00:38:00] And that's basically this ecosystem is their strategy blueprint that should, you know, be everybody, everybody and everything in the organization should be aligned to that bigger, bigger thing. It's not, uh, you know, one thing on top of another, it's just the thing that we're trying to create.

[00:38:18] Greg Bernarda: But there's also instances where. An organization is not the leader of the ecosystem, but they're trying to co create a new ecosystem. Often, you know, not everyone has, let's say, vision, power, legitimacy, also, in a certain context, to be that one actor that does everything. Um, it may also not be the best way, right, to have just concentration of power in one

[00:38:45] Gerry Scullion: yeah, absolutely. Huge amount of risk

[00:38:48] Greg Bernarda: Huge amount of risk. And also, you know, from a societal standpoint, you're trying, you're, you're,

[00:38:53] Gerry Scullion: and bias.

[00:38:53] Greg Bernarda: a lot of, uh, a lot of power, a lot of wealth, et cetera. So I think there's other ways that are, that are out there [00:39:00] of, uh, co creation and one even with traditional players. So I've, I've done a lot of work with, uh, with Rauch Pharma company, right?

[00:39:08] Greg Bernarda: And so they're trying to go from, uh, Just being let's say a drug manufacturer to make it very simple to an enabler of what they call Personalized health they realize so, you know, lots of new science lots of technology Patient data there's kind of a whole world that is changing where they feel they're very positioned to provide New solutions that are you know for the very good very strong oncology.

[00:39:37] Greg Bernarda: So it's not going to be about lung cancer or breast cancer is going to be about what is the gene mutation of this particular patient. And so to provide solutions to this, in order to do this, hospitals have to work differently. Doctors have to prescribe something else. Uh, you know, insurance have to reimburse other things.

[00:39:57] Greg Bernarda: Governments has to be involved in co founding. So [00:40:00] they can't make it happen. In other words, if the ecosystem is not aligned around it.

[00:40:05] Gerry Scullion: absolutely.

[00:40:06] Greg Bernarda: And so one thing to go back to this, you know, who is responsible for this. So in, in, uh, for example, in Canada, they, uh, they realized, well, we need to have access to patient data, but nobody's going to allow a pharma company in a multi, you know, multi, uh, multi stakeholder society like Canada to own patient data.

[00:40:27] Greg Bernarda: So what they did is that they created a not for profit where they sit in, in the governance board of it, along with research organizations, government, uh, and others. And together they say, here's how we're going to collect patient data. Here's how we're going to create the rules by which patient data can be used.

[00:40:46] Greg Bernarda: And that's a, a kind of a mayor function, but that's owned Hmm.

[00:40:53] Gerry Scullion: There was a great, uh, yeah, I totally agree. And the work at Roche sounds super fascinating because the intent [00:41:00] is there, the principles are there about What they're trying to achieve and the time it takes to get there is, is really important. But to quote Patrick Quattlebaum, who I spoke with recently on the podcast will be coming out soon, author of orchestrating experiences.

[00:41:15] Gerry Scullion: He said, it's not the time it takes to do something. It's the timing. And the timing of the, the situations is really, really important. So with an awful lot of the work that you're talking about here, um, around, I guess, nudging the ecosystem or setting up the components and the factors, where does the timing, how can we ensure that what we're doing Um, is, is, is aligning to the right time for the organization to do it because, you know, things can happen at certain times, the market fit isn't there, the organization isn't ready, the, the consumer isn't ready, whoever it is, what are the indicators for you and saying, okay, now is the time to do this?

[00:41:59] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, it's a very [00:42:00] good question. I, so I think of two things when you, when you mentioned this number one is often we say it's not the right time when we have the narrow view of let me launch my product or let me launch my business in a certain environment, right? And so we check is my idea ready for that environment and for all of these successful ecosystem stories.

[00:42:24] Greg Bernarda: If you had applied that filter, you would have said, ah, no, that's, that's never going to work. The environment's not ready. You know, when, uh, Alibaba is trying to do e commerce in, in, in China in 2003, there's no, uh, shipping, you know, express shipping industry. There is no payment systems. So what, what would you say?

[00:42:44] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, it was too early. It's not going to happen, but no, you know, if you're an ecosystem leader, then you have to. Uh, take a larger responsibility to create the pieces that are missing in the environment, uh, so that your idea can thrive. So [00:43:00] that's one, one aspect of timing. The other aspect, I think is, you know, what are the, um, I would use this word, what are the fertile grounds where you see that there are, um, emergent possible collaboration that, that, you know, some actors already, not everyone.

[00:43:19] Greg Bernarda: But where you can go and talk to them and and you know Have them back up your vision because they align with it as well. And I think that kind of takes Well, builds momentum, uh, you know, uh, towards the ecosystem, which will take a few actors, maybe not all of them or not all of the usual ones. Uh, because, you know, if you try to wait for that timing, maybe it's you wait for a long time.

[00:43:47] Greg Bernarda: Um, so I would, I would think of timing in terms of fertility of, you know, where is this the right, where is the right terrain to plant seeds and to cultivate these seeds.

[00:43:58] Gerry Scullion: yeah, [00:44:00] it sounds like you've, you've hit an area, um, in your own kind of, uh, I guess, knowledge. If you want to, you, you're focusing on something that's really interesting to you. I can sense it like, and I sensed it when we were driving around and we were talking about some of this stuff, weaving the ethical considerations, you know, really reflecting on what's gone before and what's potentially going to come ahead.

[00:44:23] Gerry Scullion: Um, what does the future look like for Greg? Thank you. Um, and Greg Bernarda in terms of where you're going to take this, this knowledge work that you're doing at the moment.

[00:44:32] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, so I was telling you earlier that I feel like this is a thread that I'm pulling and I'm seeing what comes with it. But to me, um, it's, it's kind of, it's, it's getting out of this business language a little bit.

[00:44:48] Gerry Scullion: Hmm.

[00:44:49] Greg Bernarda: Uh, of, you know, I think, I think it's the business language that we have is a bit too small for the kind of problems we have.

[00:44:57] Greg Bernarda: It's too small for our time, for the kind of aspirations we [00:45:00] have. And so for me, I want to pull that thread of reconnecting this world of business that is very practical and does things very well, very, very efficiently with the world of, You know, um, the more subtle, uh, world of, um, how are we, uh, sensing what needs to happen in society, who, how are we, um, aligned ourselves with what, you know, we are feeling needs to happen with also, you know, this is the thing with, I sometimes mentioned this, you know, a lot of, a lot of people feel divided between their work and their lives.

[00:45:38] Greg Bernarda: You know, they kind of go and. It's like this quote from, uh, uh, Google that I've heard anecdote that the higher up you're in Google, the stricter you are with your kids in terms of technology access, you know, so they, they kind of building a little monster here and they're trying to do everything to protect their, it's a bit of an, an exaggeration, but I think this divide is there [00:46:00] in society.

[00:46:01] Greg Bernarda: And so if you continue with this language of business, you kind of. Cutting, cutting a part of yourself, uh, you know, as part of, uh, what should happen really, what kind of world you want to build in your particular area. So I'm trying to reconcile these two things so that that's, I think, to answer your question at kind of a macro level, that's, that's what I feel we need.

[00:46:23] Greg Bernarda: A new language, a new way of a broader way, yet still practical way of, of, of embracing all of this.

[00:46:31] Gerry Scullion: And who are the collaborators that you're kind of looking to collaborate with to make it happen? Who are the actors that use your language?

[00:46:40] Greg Bernarda: Yes. What's my ecosystem? Um, well, maybe you, Jerry, we could talk more about it. I'm saying this because I was inspired with what you said about the young generation earlier. Uh, and

[00:46:53] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. The makers and doers.

[00:46:55] Greg Bernarda: yeah, yeah. I think there's a lot of, uh. A lot of potential here. [00:47:00] So I am looking at, um, so this language thing is kind of a thing I'm doing not on my own.

[00:47:09] Greg Bernarda: I have a lot of people that I'm collaborating with and so that we can take this into different contexts. But then in parallel to that, I'm also exploring, um, so one thing that I feel is important is kind of how do we equip. Uh, this next generation, let's say maybe young or young adults. Uh, I'm always confused about generation, what generation it is, but let's say people that are, yeah, late university years, beginning of the, of the, of the, of, you know, their, their professional career and they're kind of sitting at a, at a time that is quite, you know, uh, important for them in terms of where they're going to go into life.

[00:47:52] Greg Bernarda: Are they going to end up in a You know, organization where they, where they feel like they have to do what they're told to do and kind of lose [00:48:00] their, their spark, et cetera, or can they embrace their own sense of, Hey, this is who I am, this is what I feel I can contribute here and equipping these people with a sense of one connection with themselves and two ability to do this kind of thing that, that, that we're talking about.

[00:48:20] Greg Bernarda: So do this kind of thing around. Uh, you know, how can I embrace a more things from a more holistic standpoint? How can I be practical in this? How can I build systems and communities and collaboration? Uh, and really steward this steward this, uh, this process towards building the kind of world that they feel inspired to live in.

[00:48:45] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:48:46] Greg Bernarda: education is, uh, is the thing that I'm looking at with some people. Yeah.

[00:48:51] Gerry Scullion: It's funny, I saw a quote from Obama recently about, uh, what he hopes for the next and the future generations to be able to, [00:49:00] to achieve and what advice would he give to them. And his response was, and it was somewhat sort of underwhelming, if you want. He said it was just get shit done.

[00:49:12] Gerry Scullion: And, uh, being able to get shit done was his, was his thing. And I was like saying, yeah, okay, but... There's a few steps before that, that we need to really help them, uh, to be able to get what done, like, you know, really, like, you know, we can do, we can, we can enable that, I think, pretty easily. But I think the ethical considerations and making sure that we're not compounding the problems that have gone before us and helping us design our way out of this situation

[00:49:38] Greg Bernarda: Yes.

[00:49:39] Gerry Scullion: really important.

[00:49:40] Greg Bernarda: Yeah,

[00:49:40] Gerry Scullion: crips and skills and problem solving stuff. Well, look, Greg. You are everywhere on the internet, like, you know, you, you are nearly, nearly as bad as me in terms of, uh, how many joking you're on LinkedIn. I know that because there's a great talk, which I'm going to link to in, um, from the thinkers 50, which [00:50:00] I saw did a couple of months ago.

[00:50:01] Gerry Scullion: I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well, because, um, I'm going You know, you cover an awful lot of ground, and there's some really nice visuals, um, that probably complement the conversation that we have had today. But is there anything else you want to give a shout out to in terms of the work that you're doing?

[00:50:16] Gerry Scullion: If there are people out there that you're looking to collaborate with on stuff, you know, we do have a good listenership, um, with multidisciplinary people. So give a shout out if there's anything you want to give a shout out to now.

[00:50:29] Greg Bernarda: Yeah, thanks, Jerry. Uh, so the talk you mentioned at the end of the talk that you mentioned on LinkedIn, I introduced actually something we haven't talked today about, but it's kind of resonant with some of our, the thread of our conversation is that at the end, I'm saying we, it's not about disruption, you know, we've been enamored with this term disruption because disruption is interesting in terms of changing the status quo.

[00:50:56] Greg Bernarda: Uh, but my sense of disruption is that it kind of moves [00:51:00] value, you know, sideways, moves value from this set of actor to this set of actor. And I like the term approption better because approption kind of channels this energy of disruption. Yes, we need to shake things up, but we need to also guide it into a new place that's better for everyone.

[00:51:17] Greg Bernarda: And so, um, I have a page now, approption. com that I just, uh, started and so people can go there. There's uh, yeah, you can leave your email there and um, yeah, I would direct people there.

[00:51:32] Gerry Scullion: Brilliant, Greg. Listen, thanks so much for giving me your time this morning and chatting so openly about the work that you have done and are doing and are going to do in the future. You're always welcome back in the podcast, you know, just send us an email. We'd love to have you on because it's fascinating speaking and understanding what's making you tick these days.

[00:51:51] Gerry Scullion: Thanks so much for your time.

[00:51:53] Greg Bernarda: Thank you, Jerry. Really good to see you again. See you soon.

[00:51:56] [00:52:00]

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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