Introduction

At Guides we love ecosystems. Though, we don't mean the natural kind (we do like those!). Rather we mean the distributed, adaptive, open socio-technical systems of people, information, and technology that together bring knowledge to life. These ecosystems surround us everywhere.

We like ecosystems because they are complex. Much like their natural counterpart (e.g. a coral reef), they:

  • are leaderless, or at least not depending on one person, organisation or community.
  • are deeply connected and continuously evolving
  • are emergent, ceaselessly creative and an invitation to be inspired
  • are unique, non-linear, where fringe ideas can have a big impact (Butterfly effect)

And most importantly, with sufficient momentum ecosystems are self-perpetuating with an emergent purpose. They thrive on the energy people put in. Their reason for existence is not winning, the point is to continue playing.

We have already seen the growth of ecosystems on topics like Fire fighting, Construction, Energy Efficiency, Entrepreneurship, and Health. And there are new ones emerging everyday such as on the circular economy. These ecosystems solve real world problems by connecting those who have knowledge with those that need it.

If knowledge is the capacity to act, then tapping into an ecosystem of evolving knowledge can give us the confidence to move forward. More connected and rich ecosystems hold the potential to help people take action and live better lives. That's why we love Ecosystems.

This guide explores ecosystems, their characteristics, and how to grow and improve them. But first we need to talk about how to make sense of the world around us.