top of page
The Ecosystem Project
Higher Education Ecosystems_ Design - Creative Community Ecosystem.jpg

August 2023 Update

What is this all about? The Ecosystem Project is an exciting set of activities to advance the study of the complex ecosystems at play in higher education and related industries. I have found that in my roles of university administrator, faculty member, and strategy and innovation consultant, our industry has lacked a deep understanding of the complex ways our institutions achieve their missions and provide value to learners and the many stakeholders who depend on what we do. We still complain of silos within our institutions and suffer misunderstood value propositions with our partners and the public. In the last few years, I have worked to depict and apply new models with my higher education clients and have found new ways to solve intractable problems. 

Why now? While I have found great success depicting ecosystems in my work and applying innovation and strategy approaches to help institutions one at a time, I have not yet taken the time to collect the learning to better share it with others. I have decided to reduce my client work and publish my methods and models to share these insights. My aim is to leverage the creativity in my communities to design and publish my next book focused on advanced practice of human centered design, strategy, and innovation in complex ecosystems. I expect to release the book in 2025 after two years of focused effort. 

What activities are occurring? I am currently engaging scholars, practitioners, and generally smart thinkers to help me refine my ideas. The first phases of work focused on discovery and research to build a robust framework for depicting ecosystems and exploring ecosystem dynamics. Now, we’re working to identify and model a variety of ecosystems, perhaps up to three dozen or so. As the models are being constructed, I expect to collaborate with partner institutions to develop local depictions so institutions can explore opportunities to improve what they do and innovate. I expect to generate accompanying case studies to share more broadly. Organizing, depicting, writing, and formatting will take place in the later phases of the work and I will then turn to presentation and piloting opportunities. 

How can I get involved? I am employing what I call a creative community model that is fun, engaging, and highly virtualized. If you are interested, there are several ways to join us. 1) Play Catbird – By catbird, I mean an experienced leader who has observed the dynamics at play in our industry. While catbirds may be experts, it’s the senior, generalist’s 50,000 foot view that is most helpful. The demand on catbirds would be singular or occasional at best. 2) Be an Expert on an Ecosystem Design Team – Once a dozen or so potential ecosystems are identified, I’ll build small micro-communities of experts to help better understand the dynamics, agents, forces, and leverage points and build depictions. 3) Organizational Partner – I am also seeking a handful of partner organizations to collaborate in this work. Partners can help by co-hosting collaborative sessions in Miro, participating in virtual sessions, hosting live invited sessions during meetings and events, sharing insights with their communities, or joining in other ways that create value. 4) Be a Lurker – it’s just fine if you’d like to read occasional communication and get some ideas and inspirations. Connect when and how you’d like.

Can you keep me updated on your progress? For sure! Please subscribe to The Ecosystem Project newsletter using the form below. I'll send updates to subscribers about every six weeks. I'll also include additional options to get involved as we move forward.

Thanks again for your interest!

bottom of page