Designing "For Good": Blockchain And The New Ecosystems


"For good" has become the spirit of the time and very often it is read as "social good". From my work with various entrepreneurs in the Crypto Valley Switzerland, my view on "for good" has broadened and it should not be limited to non-profits.

For many blockchain startups and entrepreneurs, "for good" has the meaning to provide traceability, consistence and immutability in newly designed systems. For example, transparency and fair distribution of royalties in the music industry, or creating unique IDs for immigrants, or tracking and use of money given to charity organisations.

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Illustration \* ARABIC       1      : Blockchain Start-ups creating new value streams and ecosystems (Live from Crypto Valley, 2018:97)

Illustration 1: Blockchain Start-ups creating new value streams and ecosystems (Live from Crypto Valley, 2018:97)

But "blockchain for good" also has potential for the government. In Ghana for example, the project "Bitland" is using blockchain technology to overcome disagreements in land ownerships. Technology is helping to generate transparency in the land registration system by allowing individuals and groups to record titles on a blockchain application. Most important in the project, is the effort to create, establish and incentivise an ecosystem enabled by Blockchain.

Scaling the power of collaboration for transformational change becomes of paramount importance.

At the end of the day it leads to one central aspect; the creation of value, and it benefits all actors in the system. This must be aligned to our morals and ethical standards. The design of such an ecosystem is complex and there are not many frameworks available. The method described has been created out of my daily work with entrepreneurs, industry and university research. It has become an integral part of both books, "The Design Thinking Playbook" and "Live from Crypto Valley".

How do you design an ecosystem?

Ecosystem Design follows the Mindset from Design Thinking. Design Thinking has experienced a revival in the design of digital transformation in recent years. Many companies have set themselves the goal of aligning their principles with a Design Thinking Mindset. This relies on a strong user focus, an iterative approach and co-creation to finally test prototypes with the potential customer, and to build the first Minimum Viable Products in a resource-saving manner. This is a proven approach, transformed into the design of ecosystems.

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Illustration \* ARABIC       2      : The Design of Ecosystems (The Design Thinking Playbook, 2018:247)

Illustration 2: The Design of Ecosystems (The Design Thinking Playbook, 2018:247)

The main steps from Start-to-MVE (Minimum Viable Ecosystem):

The central starting point in ecosystem design is the user with their needs, based on a defined problem statement. We use our well-known design thinking tools, such as customer experience chains, customer profiles, and personas. This is done before the design of the ecosystem. The design of the ecosystem usually takes place on two levels: users and value generation, including the associated technologies and platforms. Our ecosystem model has a total of 10 stages, which are broken down into a “virtuous design loop,” a “validation loop,” and a “realisation loop.”

Effective ecosystems are designed in such a way that all actors benefit from the value streams.

How do we start the virtuous design loop?

1) Determine the core value proposition

2) Determine and describe the actors in the ecosystem

3) Arrange the actors in the different areas of the ecosystem map

4) Define the value streams and connect the actors with the value streams

5) Create awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of each actor

6) Multidimensional view of the business models of all actors in the target ecosystem

7) (Re)design of the ecosystem

What happens in the validation loop?

8) Look at the decision-makers and potential team members in the ecosystem

What happens in the realization loop?

9) Form a motivated team for the design of the new ecosystem

10) Build the business ecosystem step by step with an MVE (Minimum Viable Ecosystem)

Summary of core capabilities in ecosystem design:

When thinking about the ecosystem for creating "for good" blockchain applications (for example), it might have the following characteristics:

  • be focussed on the user
  • loosely coupled and designed for co-creation
  • consists of networked and decentralised system elements
  • coordinated & accepted value systems of the actors
  • cross-industry offers
  • designed for maximum benefit for all participants, and actors are enabled by new key technologies (e.g. Data Analytics or Blockchain)
  • Step-by-step development of a Minimal Viable Ecosystem (MVE)

How to learn more about Design Thinking, Ecosystem Design and Minimum Viable Ecosystems (MVEs)?

There is not much literature in the market about ecosystem design. And so, "The Design Thinking Playbook" is a popular choice for many blockchain entrepreneurs, digital leaders, and universities. It is an actionable guide to the future of organisations.

By stepping back and questioning the current mindset, the faults of the status quo stand out in stark relief—and this guide gives you the tools and frameworks you need to kick off a digital transformation. An entire chapter in the Playbook focusses on the question "Why does the design of an ecosystem become an ultimate lever?".

The book "Live from Crypto Valley" provides a snapshot of the current activities in the Crypto Valley and applies business ecosystem design framework as a central starting point in many blockchain projects.

About the author

Michael Lewrick (PhD) has had different roles over the last few years. He was responsible for strategic growth, acted as Chief Innovation Officer and laid the foundation for numerous growth initiatives in sectors that are in a transition. He teaches Design Thinking as a visiting professor at various universities. With his help, a number of international companies have developed and commercialised radical innovations.

In his new book release, “The Design Thinking Playbook”, he postulated with his colleagues from Stanford University a new mindset of converging approaches of design thinking in digitisation. Currently, he focuses on the design of Business Ecosystems for Blockchain applications in the Crypto Valley Switzerland. His newest book is titled "Live from Crypto Valley".


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