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By Michael G. Jacobides

Business ecosystems are becoming all the rage. In my recent HBR article, I argued that to embark on shaping an ecosystem strategy, leaders should tackle key questions, including:

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How can you help other firms create value? What role should you play—orchestrator, partner, participant? How can your organization adapt? Yet these questions only get you to the starting line.

To execute an ecosystem strategy, you must also understand how to make an ecosystem work—in particular, this means not only offering a seamless value proposition but also doing the hard work of brokering attractive partnership arrangements and ensuring value capture. These two seemingly opposed, yet interlinked forces form the Yin and Yang of ecosystem success.

All successful ecosystems have a strong Yang—a value proposition that rests on seamlessly integrating various services for a customer. Consider Tencent, whose WeChat platform bridges the gap between Chinese mobile subscribers’ lives and their activities—from social media to payments. In Europe, Tencent built WeChatGo, which provides a pre-paid SIM card that saves Chinese customers from costly roaming charges—but also offers an interface connecting Chinese tourists to local shops, museums, and attractions. It offers them discounts in the app and delivers a seamless and intuitive experience….

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