Thanks to the fantastic work of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and despite the enemy’s attempts to break us with attacks on the state energy system, we continue to implement new important projects. On December 6, the presentation of the Ukrainian translation of Ron Adner’s second book “Winning the Right Game” took place. As a part of the event, not only the main concepts of the publication were discussed, but also a management discussion “Architecture of Joint Victory” was held. The book was published in partnership with the Laboratoria publishing house with the TransformWISE intellectual agency and the ATMOSFERA company. According to tradition, the author of the book, Ron Adner, addressed the participants of the event.
Participants of the discussion:
Volodymyr Pavelko is the founder of the TransformWISE intellectual agency.
Oleksiy Badyka is the founder and CEO of the company ATMOSFERA, the space of the NRG.space energy community, co-founder and member of the board of the Association of Solar Energy of Ukraine)
Oleksandr Filonenko — Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor of the Department of Culture and Philosophy of Science
Andriy Melnyk is the founder of Cowo.guru – a thinking environment
Ron Adner’s Address to Ukrainian Readers
Hello! My name is Ron Andrew. I’m. The author of the book Winning the Right Game. How to disrupt, defend and deliver in a changing world, which is being launched in Ukraine today. To have a book translated into a new language is always a special one, but to have it translated and shared when the current moment is so challenging is especially me. And this makes me not only very thankful for the effort, but also hopeful for the impact. Writing this book just in English was a ten-year journey to understand how our fundamental approach to strategy must change in a world of ecosystems, how the way in which competition, opportunity, offense, defense, timing, and leadership must be rethought in a world of new connections and interdependencies, where partners can become rivals and where rivals can become assets. The core idea of the book is that when change crosses traditional boundariesand the lines that define distinct industries become blurred your strategy has to evolve as well. The focus of strategy must shift from just managing direct competition and execution to managing the alignment of critical partners and coalitions.
Doing this requires a fresh look at the architecture through which value is created, which in turn requires a new set of concepts, tools, and frameworks to address the opportunities and challenges that arise in these changing contexts.And that is the heart of the book.And this is why I’m excited to share it with you, because, although the book is written from the perspective of business.the approach, the theory and the toolshold implications that are far broader.Ukraine today is living through these challenges at so many different levels simultaneously.And so it is my great hope that the ideas in this book will be helpful to you in some way. Please accept my since you wish to stay safe to stay optimistic and for good luck. Thank you!
Oleksiy Badyka: I liked this book much more than the first. It fits the present and meets our challenges. Confirms that frontal competition is dead. It is not enough for a business or organization to offer the best quality at the best price. The world is becoming complicated, unpredictable. Linear planning and extrapolation of past experience does not work. Complex and dynamic systems of relations and partnerships win in competition and not only in business. Not to be confused with complex supply chains is also a thing of the past.
Business or any established and modern system, which is Ukraine, cannot develop without perceiving itself as an ecosystem and realizing its role in larger ecosystems, for example, in the world.
Volodymyr Pavelko: The name of the event “Architecture of Joint Victory” resonates with the key idea of the book — the architecture of value. This concept was introduced by Ron Adner. He published only two books, which brought the author world fame. In the second, it introduces novelty – how can the ecosystem be architected today.
What is an ecosystem? It is an exchange of values among players who see a common idea, generate value that is exchanged, and move to higher levels of morality.
The book “The Wide Lens” describes the main concepts of creating value and building an ecosystem as a structure. The author, unlike Harvard professors, who consider the ecosystem as a model, says that first you need to see a clear interaction, a rigid structure in order to move into more complex forms. Adner shows a value blueprint approach that was layered on creating added value and delivering value propositions to the customer. In “Winning the Right Game” he makes a powerful transition. He architects the key elements of value and shows how they disappear, how they migrate from one business ecosystem to another.
Andriy Melnyk: In the book, the author begins with the fact that there are industries and there are ecosystems. Industries are what they are. We are building traditional competition here. And when they start to break down, we go into ecosystems. The subtitle of the book is “How to Disrupt, Defend, and Deliver in a Changing World?”. What is this changing world today? Why do we call the modern world changing?
Oleksandr Filonenko: I liked the concept of “the right game” the most in the book. Because winning the wrong game is losing. I was struck at one time when it became clear in Europe that the First World War did not plan to end and would become the Second World War, people appeared who began to understand not how it happens, but how to live with all this and win. The literature of the interwar period gave birth to a dozen game theorists. It is in times of uncertainty that people appear who are convinced that only the game will save us. When we discuss victory in a changing world, we express it in numbers and tables — and that’s right. But at some point we notice that success happens only in one case – if those who achieve success change.
Volodymyr Pavelko: In the “two thousands” there are models that are not subject to the approaches of industrial thinking. Google, Airnbnb, Uber, for example, are platform models when we invite someone who shares our values, giving them a certain value as well. As a result, a new business model based on the principles of interconnectedness and a common idea emerges.
What was once stable and definite is now completely unpredictable. We began to think in paradoxes. A watch is not a watch. This is an accessory, a set of computer functions that measures pressure, steps. Gas stations are modern offices, where people come not to refuel, but for backup power, the Internet, and the opportunity to work in the heat. And my favorite example is that 700,000 books were sold in ATB (ed. note – this is about the book with augmented reality “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll).
Why is this world changing? If you go to the book “The Wide Lens”, then Michelin (60% of the world market) says: I invented a new tire, now you will all change to it. I have leverage, a strategy, clients want it. But as a result, a small service station blocks the innovation of a large giant and does not allow it to enter the world. What is it about? This is about subjectivity.
When Satya Nadella came to Microsoft after Steve Ballmer, he did not start squeezing out of the created system. He interacted, communicated with people, built relationships with subjects.
Third generation strategies are about connections that can only be imagined, they cannot be grasped.
Andriy Melnyk: How to apply the approaches we read about to Ukraine? How to bring Ukraine into the subject position? How to bring this position to the frontier of expanding ideas about the world, organizations and communities?
Volodymyr Pavelko: The term “business ecosystem” was first mentioned in 1993. The first book about business ecosystems was published in 1996 – “The End of Competition” by James Moore. But ecosystems as a phenomenon existed both a hundred and a thousand years ago. Ecosystems in a flexible world are when there are no clear boundaries, we build connections.
Andriy Melnyk: The first book appears at the moment when a person entered a state of reflection, thought out and invested in a product that he passes on. That is, she earned something from it. Ten years later, Ron Adner’s first book appears, and only thirty years later it appears in the Ukrainian context, describing what an ecosystem is. This is the first time people who are not tangential to the English-speaking world are getting acquainted with it. That is, we are behind the rest of the world by thirty years. In order for this not to happen, it is necessary to engage in management innovations and make sense of our experience, to go into the current world frontiers. Are we familiar with the places where breakthroughs can occur? Are we in communication with the outside world? Shall we talk about it?
Volodymyr Pavelko: But the book is called “Winning the Right Game”. Do we want to play this game? This is about subjectivity. We choose.
Andriy Melnyk: The game tells us that there are limits. It turns out that the world is actively changing – we are accumulating technologies and ideas. But who sets the right or wrong game? Can a Ukrainian come in and create a game? It seems to me that Ukraine as a phenomenon is on the frontier in a changing world. Can we use our age experience to make breakthrough stories?
Oleksandr Filonenko: The game has two elements – rules and playfulness. The first level in the game – you know the rules, but you don’t know how to play. The second is that you forget about the rules because you are playing.
Mathematicians are trying to bring game theory to a place where we follow rules and algorithms. And in the 70s and 80s, people tried to conceptualize playfulness. It was called postmodernism. Then they tried to come up with an idea when mathematics is zero, and there is a lot of energy – playfulness is preserved. Besides, there are players and there are people who ruin the game. They are scammers who say they are playing but actually work. And those who don’t play for real. When we talk about the subjectivity of entering the game, we have to understand whether I am a player or not.
Ukraine’s problem is that we often play unfairly. We like to play so much that we don’t go out in a big game. This transition, when checkers become chess, was considered absurd until recently. You thought you were playing checkers when your opponent was playing chess. It turns out that it was possible? This expansion of the game does not create chaos, but creates new orders. But today, a new parameter was added – frontierness. We are mistaken, thinking that subjectivity is a person who makes decisions for himself. The subject who makes important decisions is not the one who puts himself in the center of his life. And a person who puts himself on the frontier or on the periphery. The new hero builds relationships and is willing to lose himself for a strong game. It used to seem like a losing strategy, but now if you want to win, go to the periphery. Stop fighting for the center where nothing happens. Go where you are not. Turning something risky into a resource is one of the book’s most powerful motifs, called the transition from ego system to ecosystem. This is a new type of leadership.
Volodymyr Pavelko: Where else is Ukraine located, if not on the frontier? Images of our leaders on the cover of Time. We have become the ones who set the tone. Only Ukrainians know how to shoot better with a “Caesar” or “Highmars”. Ukrainians are already at the frontier. If we speak in geopolitical terms, then on the frontier of the creation of a new Europe. We create new knowledge in various directions, open directions.
This book was translated into russian as “Strategy of Prosperity” because russians cannot say “Winning the Right Game”. They may talk about winning, but this is definitely the wrong game. A strategist is someone who creates decisions with noble motives, and on the other hand there are no noble motives, so the translation is like this. If we talk about the development of ecosystem thinking, it starts with the industrial world. Porter’s value chain concept speaks of the destruction of barriers within the company, of cross-functionality. Ecosystemists say we need to break down barriers between industries. Then we move from cross-functional to interdisciplinary thinking. We do not operate between branches, but between disciplines.
We stay on the frontier, catch up — this is already about integral thinking. And this is not just interdisciplinary thinking, but it is with a moral component. Today it is said that the strategist has noble motives. That’s why it’s “Winning the Right Game” and not “Strategy for Prosperity.”
Andriy Melnyk: We know how to shoot, but we haven’t created any “Caesar” or “Highmars”.
Volodymyr Pavelko: “Cotton” flew very long distances today. And these are drones of Ukrainian development. We have a lot to offer in terms of technology and humanitarianism.
Andrii Melnyk: An entity that goes beyond the boundaries can be called an entrepreneur. A businessman does not do this – he invests money and receives a product. It seems to me that now it is important for Ukrainians to engage not only in entrepreneurial innovations, but also in humanitarian ones. Non-utilitarian creative thinking in an entrepreneur who goes beyond the boundaries is important. Thanks to this, he is able to obtain optics that he cannot work with in the framework of classical business. Where does this subject appear?
Volodymyr Pavelko: A few months ago, President Zelensky’s thesis was in the media that we need entities that give birth to visions. Where will these subjects come from if we haven’t prepared them for decades? But today we are probably on the frontier where these subjects are still present. It’s just a matter of long preparation.
Oleksandr Filonenko: At a conference in England, a Japanese woman approached me and asked: “Where are you from?”. I answered, from Ukraine. And she said, “Is it in Africa?” My teacher says, in such cases, you should answer: “Not exactly.” What does this situation mean? As long as we live, we are in the center of our own life. And suddenly it turns out that you are not on anyone’s map at all.
The problem of modern Ukraine is not that we are on the frontier, but that we are under the soffits. The silence of the periphery was taken away from us. We must keep this gift to the frontier when we are in circumstances where subjectivity is born. But there is a danger that this subject will not be a player, but an actor – preferably not in the theater of war.
We talk a lot about rules, but the game is not about rules. A strong game is when we don’t remember the rules, but we play by them. I think the problem is with people under the soffits, that they are doing the right thing, but there is no game itself.
The main question for Ukraine: how to see the subject of the right game, which is born? There are people who don’t like to play by the rules, so they invent their own. But it’s not about the rules, but about the mysterious state of belonging to the big game. Winning the wrong game is losing. I like this thesis. We often play the wrong game. And the worst thing is that we can win. Sometimes defeat is more valuable than victory.
Volodymyr Pavelko: Kodak just won a bad game. Ron Adner points out in the book that we are misreading this story. Kodak is an extremely successful company that won the digitization of products, but did not see that the architecture of value changed – instead of paper, screens appeared, instead of analog cameras – digital and phones. They missed the moment of transition and breaking down the boundaries between other industries.
Andrii Melnyk: In this book, there is a lot about situations, but little about a person – the subject that is mentioned.
Volodymyr Pavelko: Again, I will allow myself to disagree, because we are talking about subjects. Behind any brand is a person. Who is a strategist? It is an entity that makes decisions in a certain management context.
Oleksandr Filonenko: The epigraph of the chapter “Trap of the ego system” is as follows: “A leader without followers just goes for walks” John Maxwell. But even more interesting is the sixth chapter, “Thinking Matters: Achieving Leadership Is Different From Leadership Itself.” This is a story about the formation of subjectivity.
In general, I think that the theory of subjectivity is a peculiarity of Ukrainians. Not a whim, but something we can’t live without. We win through subjectivity. We have a great chance to understand that if we do not solve anything with subjectivity, nothing will change. But that vitally important node for us is now a lost element around which the concept of strategy is built. And Adner and I meet from different sides.
Volodymyr Pavelko: The subject’s education process is long. I do not want to say that Ukraine was born in 2022. We show certain things, but to maintain them in the long run requires self-discipline. Then we move from an ego system to an ecosystem to create value for others.