I studied Environmental Sciences some 15 years ago. I was educated in interdisciplinary sciences (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, economy, psychology, communication) and in the management of complex systems. It was at that time that the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology reacted to environmental catastrophes like Chernobyl or Schweizerhalle by establishing the interdisciplinary study of Environmental Sciences. The study itself was an innovation in the academic landscape and the students were co-designers of the study course.
In the last couple of years a trend seems to have developed towards the use of metaphors related to the environment. I want to introduce just four of these that I’ve encountered during the last few weeks.
1) “IT is like a biotope” is a new book written by Claude Roeltgen, the CIO of Credit Suisse Luxembourg. Roeltgen describes his experiences of working within an IT organization and with soft-/hardware vendors.
2) Henning Kagermann and Hubert österle write about an “Ecosystem” as a key driver of new business models in their excellent book “Geschäftsmodelle 2010”. An ecosystem forms around a dominant product or company and it comes to a competition of ecosystems according to Kagermann and österle. This topic is also discussed in the most recent newsletter (German) of “business-wissen.de”.
3) The “Information Technology Ecosystem” is a concept also introduced by the Harvard Business School author Marco Iansiti. It is a concept which involves robustness, productivity and innovation (niche creation). Iansiti explores the health and performance of the IT ecosystem in an article (PDF) for the Harvard Business Review. He also discusses the metaphor of ecosystem in his article “Creating Value in Your Business Ecosystem“.
4) John J. Sviokla adds some thoughts on technological ecosystems in an essay written for FastCompany. “Ask yourself: Can we create an ecosystem of innovation that will expand our market? How can we make it easier for others to add innovations that will make our product or service more valuable to more customers?“
Do you know of any other examples?