The Wide Lens: A Book Review – Mandatory for Those Leading or Creating an Ecosystem

The Wide Lens: A Book Review – Mandatory for Those Leading or Creating an Ecosystem

The Wide Lens: A Book Review – Mandatory for Those Leading or Creating an Ecosystem - –


If the idea that companies used to compete against each other, now competition is between different ecosystems is true, then everyone should read and use the insight and tools presented by Ron Adner in his book The Wide Lens.  The book, originally published in 2013, is more relevant today in a world of dynamic ecosystems and platforms.  I have reviewed his current book, Winning the Right Game as well.

This is a book that should demand your attention, its insight has not diminished with time. I am using the tools in the book to develop, test and communicate new ideas about digital platforms, ecosystems, and company interactions.

This book proves the point that valuable ideas matter, regardless of when they are first published.   Highly recommended in this future dominated by platforms and ecosystems.

The central premise of the book is that the ultimate success of an innovation, or any company for that matter, no longer depends on the company alone. Success rests increasingly in your ability to recognize and align the critical partners on whom your success depends.

The book is clearly organized, centered around deep and illustrative case studies and provides tools that you can apply to your own strategies and decisions.  This is a unique and extremely helpful combination – one that is also rare in terms of business books.

The chapters and tools include:

Chapter 1: Why things go wrong when you do everything right? The chapter discusses the need for system change in the success of innovation and how seemingly disconnected players can undermine the value realized from new products or services. This chapter lays out the three risks associated with introducing an innovation into the market: Execution Risk, Co-Innovation Risk, and Adoption Chain Risk

Chapter 2: Co-Innovation Risk: seeing the real odds when you don’t innovate alone.  Th chapter contains a discussion of ways to think through the ability to create and manage innovation ecosystems that are the foundation of competition.  In this chapter, Adner introduces the components required for innovation and the probability of these success.

Chapter 3: Adoption Chain Risk: discusses how you see all the customers before your end consumer.  This chapter talks about the chain of players who need to be considered in launching an innovation, their potential motivations and examples of strengthening adoption chains. This chapter helps you identify the real ecosystem and players involved in your success.

Chapter 4: Mapping the Ecosystem: identifying pieces and places. Concentrates on creating value blueprint maps among the players in an ecosystem to help identify how each player benefits or may be unwilling to contribute to your success.

Chapter 5: Roles and Relationships: to lead or follow in the innovation ecosystem?  This chapter provides a cogent discussion of who should lead in an ecosystem and why it may be to your benefit not to be the leader. The tool here is called a Leadership Prism that helps identify the relative costs and benefits of each player in the ecosystem.

Chapter 6: The Right Place at the Right Time when does the early bird get the worm? The chapter covers how to recognize situations when being the first mover is beneficial and when its better to wait.  The chapter uses several cases, including the Apple iPod to illustrate this important point.  Remember “the early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

Chapter 7: Changing the Game: reconfiguring the ecosystem to work for you.  If ecosystems are the modern form of competition, then you need to know how to change an ecosystem. That is the focus of this chapter and its discussion of how to separate, combine, relocate, or subtract elements of an ecosystem.  Illustrated by detailed example for electric vehicles, this chapter helps you analyze and evolve ecosystems in your favor.

Chapter 8: Sequencing Success: winning the connected game.  This chapter focuses on creating coherent alignment among the partners in your ecosystem. It presents ideas including the Minimum Viable Ecosystem (MVE), Staged Expansion and Ecosystem Carryover.  All very helpful.

Chapter 9: Multiplying Your Odds for Success. The concluding chapter that discusses how a leader uses these tools to help them develop their innovation and ecosystem.

Review of Winning the Right Game on Gartner Blog Network