Leading healthy ecosystems with David Dinwoodie and Jim Ritchie-Dunham

“the biggest challenge of all is the mindset shift…we need to be doing this ‘with’ people not ‘for’ people.”

A fun conversation with Jim and David about how to create and lead healthy ecosystems .

What does this mean ? How do you create a system where people and business can flourish ? How can we make sure that we retain our competitive advantage, or should it be collaborative advantage ?

Healthy ecosystems must combine strategy and leadership in an emergent approach to prioritise and maximise resources in order to flourish – we can only solve critical issues in the world and make progress by collaborating.

Is collaborative advantage a better lever for what keeps systems healthy and competitive in today’s world and how do we navigate this landscape in terms of strategy and leadership. We discuss how the measurement of value could be seen through a different lens and what it takes for companies to develop interdependent leadership to allow for a more fluid model of business operations and partner relationships.

Jim and David generously share their insights, research and experience on this critical topic for businesses and leaders across the globe.

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

–       Healthy ecosystems must combine strategy and leadership in an ‘anti-business school approach’ to prioritise and maximise resources in order to flourish – we can only solve critical issues in the world and make progress by collaborating.

–       To create and lead a strategy for sound ecosystems requires a mindset shift from competitive advantage to collaborative advantage – we must find the right partners who contribute in the right way so that we can create something sustainable together.

–       We must think more expansively – organisations must recognise that we are better off if we interact; we have to ask questions and talk to people if we are to be viable, resilient and sustainable.

–       Reimagining the entire value chain means asking: what does success look like for everybody? What does everyone contribute? How is it managed and led? Interdependence is major: not a hub-and-spoke model but concentric circles with a shift to interdependent leadership.

–       TVG (total value generated) asks who the key stakeholders are and how they define value, and measures experience and output objectively; it is about relationships and the value they generate; it identifies ecosystem partners and focuses on their health.

–       Research reveals three crucial factors for successful relationships: reciprocity (best interests at heart on both sides), trust (built slowly over time), and frequency (how often do we interact and is it often enough) – we must change the narrative to measure critical factors for the system as a whole.

–       Flourishing is about holistic human wellbeing (physical, mental, social, spiritual, etc.) and is influenced globally by organisational strategy and public health, which should consider all dimensions to create inclusive systems for healthy ecosystems.

–       Competitive advantage in a healthy ecosystem is measured by looking at every player in the value chain with a unique value proposition that is enhanced by the other players, e.g. sustainability, triple bottom line, both profitable and prosperous.

–       Continued viability: involves the competitive intensity of the local supply chain and the collaborative intensity of capacity; depends on healthy collaborators (in the supply chain); and builds a collaborative infrastructure that leads to increased stability and cost efficiency.

–       In the ‘viability to survivability framework’, collaboration is key to providing different revenue sources and strong relationships as opportunities for growth and innovation – there must be sufficient net resources in the bucket to cover the next outflow.

–       Stability means having adequate dedicated resources; resilience means having multiple ways to achieve inflow/outflow, an expansive business model and flexibility in relationships to bring in the human systems across ecosystems.

–       Scaling relationship maturity means intentionally creating interdependent skillsets; conducting a gradual process to transform relationships by spanning boundaries and leading across them; building respect and trust, creating commonality, disrupting and transforming.

–       Jim and David’s article – Leading Towards A Healthy Ecosystem – looks at how strategies must be implementable and people must be ready; a winning leadership strategy must foster a conscious collaborative culture to guide people through the change process.

–       Know where you’re starting from, what you’re trying to do and what the change will require of people; look for pockets within the organisation that are advanced/behind as it is not a homogeneous process; have small focus groups for diagnostics and enquiry; and bring creativity on the fringe into the core.

Link to article in DLQ : https://developingleadersquarterly.com/leading-towards-a-healthy-ecosystem/

Find out more about Jim and David here :


Institute for Strategic Clarity https://isclarity.org/, The Human Flourishing Program https://hfh.fas.harvard.edu/ and https://centerforworkhealth.sph.harvard.edu/


Barcelona Business School https://www.eada.edu/en/faculty-and-research/departments/strategy-leadership-and-people/david-dinwoodie,

Centre for Creative Leadership https://www.ccl.org/cco.org

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Suzie Lewis

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