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ESHIP Summit

Ecosystem Building Fundamentals

There are certain values that are critical to the success of an ecosystem. One of those values is creating and working together within systems. By assessing a system as a whole rather than individual sectors of said system, ecosystem builders can collaborate to achieve shared goals. These Firestarters present ways to approach the concepts of living systems and systems leadership.

Introducing the Ecosystem Metaphor: David McConville on Using Metaphors to Shape the Way We Think

Presented by David McConville

Written by Alistair Brett

Watch: “ESHIP Summit Firestarter: David McConville” | 15:05

David McConville is a researcher, creator, and educator. He is the co-founder of Spherical, a research and design strategy studio, and former researcher at the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

In his Firestarter talk at the 2017 ESHIP Summit, McConville explored themes of how metaphors, changing paradigms, and the tendency for systems to form hierarchies have profoundly influenced the way we organize in society and as such, have influenced how we do ecosystem building.

During his talk, David McConville sought to explore the implications of the term ‘ecosystem,’ introduced in the 1930s, as interconnected, interdependent experiences of relationships.

McConville noted this is something that we’re all trying to explore: “We’re trying to find the language and the scaffolding to think about how we are supporting each other through this work.” He discussed that for thousands of years, generations have actively participated in regenerative cycles and flows of life, as we’re discussing now with ecosystem building. This frames the Western paradigm that’s shaping every way that we think about business.

Living Systems and Entrepreneurship: Carol Sanford on Living Systems and their Application to Entrepreneurship

Presented by Carol Sanford

Written by Anika Horn

Watch: “ESHIP Summit Firestarter: Carol Sanford” | 14:03

Carol Sanford is an author and educator spearheading the ecosystem approach of living systems.

In her Firestarter at the 2017 ESHIP Summit, she introduced the audience to seven principles of living systems as a framework to build entrepreneurial ecosystems. Those include: looking at a whole system and understanding what makes it a unique foundation of your work, acknowledging that everything has potential and can be developed, and understanding the interconnectedness and impact of parts within the system.

Carol worked with Colgate Palmolive in South Africa for several years. Their mission was to “create a great country while building a great company.” As part of that mission, every employee was encouraged to come up with “one promise beyond ableness,” meaning, solve an important issue that can have a big impact, even if you don’t know how to make it happen. Isaac Macheel, a detergent power operator, committed to transforming the oral health of all children in the Soweto township where he lived. While Carol worked with Colgate Palmolive in South Africa, she saw how Isaac deployed the first seven principles of living systems to navigate complexity and build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem from within the company he worked for.