“When the Danone Ecosystem Fund was created, I was offered a front-row seat from which to observe this pioneering approach. By attending the monthly operational committee meetings, I was able to get a first-hand look at developments in the way the Ecosystem team operates and in the way projects are rolled out and supervised: there is a strong sense of progress along a pathway somewhere between experimentation and professionalization.
The Fund appears to work rather like a start-up: a constant brainstorming leading to ideas which help build a framework to manage initiatives, refocus debates and assert a genuine ambition.
The Ecosystem team works in close cooperation with Danone subsidiaries and the NGOs in the field. In so doing, the team allows to turn something that often starts out as the wish of a local manager into a project that can be put,before the «SIC» (Social Innovation Committee).
Meeting after meeting, references to previous projects form a “collective memory” which developments need to be followed cautiously. Managing know-how, thinking about the challenges of overseeing a project with partners with differing visions: many stalemates that can sometimes lead to redefine initiatives.
There is a clear learning curve, as each new project arrives. Is there a proper balance between the social impact and the business impact? How could this initiative be interpreted?
I have sat in on some heated discussions. But such is the price for maintaining a steady course. The challenge is not only about bringing about lasting change in Danone’s relationship with its ecosystem, but also learning lessons that can help transform the Group.”
If you want to know more about the ecosystem approach, you will find more articles in the column tagged “ecosystem” on our blog.
(Photo from: http://www.business-digest.eu)