Like species in biological ecosystems, firms interact with one another in complex ways, and the health and performance of each firm is dependent upon the health and performance of the whole.
A “keystone” organization is one that serves as a hub across the ecosystem. By influencing connections within the network and maintaining a predictable platform on which other network members can rely, keystones have an outsized effect on the performance of the entire system. Keystones have been shown to be critical factors in boosting the overall productivity of a network, increasing its robustness in the face of outside threats, and promoting innovation. By improving the health of the ecosystem in which they reside, keystones sustain their own existence. Poorly functioning ecosystem hubs, on the other hand, can reduce the health of their ecosystems and even imperil the survival of themselves and every member of their network. When a keystone is suddenly removed from an ecosystem, a dramatic and chaotic reorganization ensues.
In today’s global economy, a keystone’s role in the ecosystem is increasingly important. Firms, business units, technologies and products all exhibit networks of interdependencies and ecosystem-like dynamics.
Keystone’s Business Ecosystem practice is led by Marco Iansiti and supported by Karim Lakhani, Gary Pisano and other experts. Recent projects developed Ecosystem Strategies, Open Innovation Strategies and Partnerships and Alliances.