The Next Big Business Buzzword
The evidence for the growing usage of the word ecosystem is measurable. However, to truly appreciate its rapid ascent, you have to combine the word with another word.In recent years, the use of ecosystem appears to spike seemingly out of nowhere. So it’s clear that the word ecosystem is getting used more and more. But what does the word really mean? And why does it matter?
Biologists say ecosystem to describe a community of organisms interacting in their environment. We can analogize that definition to business as well. Thus, in a business ecosystem, the relationships between things matter. In fact, they matter a lot. Everything touches everything else. And so the way that humans interact has a big effect on the system. For instance, two people sitting in a coffee shop today might be starting the world’s next most important company, or they might not. It depends largely on how they interact. Do they like each other? Do inspire each other? Do they trust each other enough to take a chance together? The world might turn on those answers.
However, over the last couple of years, I’ve seen ecosystem used interchangeably with terms like “cluster” or “network” or “organization.” It feels a bit like Buzzword Bingo as if folks are just swapping words out because the old ones feel tired, like clothing that’s been worn too many times. But this is terrible because they are missing the key difference. The terms “cluster” or “network” or “organization” are rather static. They describe the mere presence of assets in a system, like blocks on a wall chart.
The word ecosystem is important because its growing usage points to a profound shift in how society thinks of economic value. It says that individuals matter. That their actions can transform industries, even the entire world. That little thing can make a big difference. This is not just fuzzy talk. It’s actually true because every great company or product started with two people sitting in a coffee shop scratching on a napkin. Or some variation of that.
Thus, an ecosystem is more than just a word. It’s actually a way of viewing the world. So please join me. Together, we can save the word ecosystem from the awful clutches of Buzzword Bingo!
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