I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why companies are successful in the long-run. It definitely has to do the size of a company’s ecotone.
Ecotone, you ask? This is something I wrote in Flipped to explain it.
Many models can be used to aid the thinking about the relationships that exist in any community or ecosystem and how they might inform a bottom-up strategy and prompt real innovation. I like to think of this eco-system approach in terms of an “ecotone.”
An ecotone is a place where two different, distinctive ecosystems meet, such as where a forest and a wetland meet. In this zone, the ecosystem is neither a forest nor a wetland, but has all of the attributes of both. Ecotone is used to describe a place where evolution happens, where a natural dialogue is occurring. In the business world, all brands live in an ecosystem made up of many components. An ecotone from this perspective can represent the opportunity that lies within the overlap of a business or brand and its market.
The bigger the ecotone – the more overlap between the two ecosystems internally and externally – the deeper the dialogue and the greater the opportunity is for the business. For most companies, it is at the fringes of the organization that the ecotone exists and where all the growth in understanding and meaning happens. This is also true in natural systems where an organism or ecosystem expands at its fringes.
While every brand’s ecotone is different. I’ve been thinking lately that maybe the brands with the largest ecotones, ones where internal cultures and external cultures mirror one and other. These brands deeply understand and interact with their customers in a seemless way. Think about Harley-Davidson, Nike, Apple and Patagonia. These cult like brands have two advantages. They have a deeper, more defensible, relationship with their customers. Both employees and customers are part of the same culture, something that’s bigger than the brand itself.
Maybe instead of spending a lot of time trying to convince customers that you’re product is better than your competitors it might be worth creating an internal culture that is a matter of creating Esho Funi.
It certainly deserves it’s own post.