Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.
Recently, I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with my fabulous friend, Anika Horn. For those who are not yet familiar with her remarkable work, you should listen to Ecosystems For Change and read her stories.
She has been writing and recording stories of ecosystem builders for years and chronicling the journey of our shared vocation. It is through efforts like hers and fellow compatriot, Jeff Bennett, of Ecosystem Builder Hub that ensures the work we do contemporaneously is visible and documented. While the jury is still out on whether “entrepreneurial ecosystem building” is a profession, approach, or calling, it is vital that these efforts are evident.
What Anika and Jeff do for our collective efforts is recounting the priceless first person stories intentionally. These are not stories about entrepreneurs, though founders are included. Not reporting about impact on economic development or community building, though it’s woven throughout. This movement, with its complexity, systems level thinking, holistic view, network effects inducing phenomena is getting recognition. This is not all together new, it is however coalescing in a fresh, next level way.
While “ecosystem building” is a buzzword, it is up to us in the field to define it, lest it be interpreted by others who are not connected to these efforts or its outcomes. There are many ways people are involved in these endeavors. It’s messy and intricate; it’s also important.
For far too long we have skirted the edges to dwell in coziness. We sidestep conflict to avoid discomfort. Silencing dissent to bypass opposition. In these persistent habits we also inhibit growth and innovation, continuing to marginalize and exclude.
It is in working on the field, while engaging in the field; sharing these stories of defeat and triumph that fosters this emerging practice. I continue to learn all the time from those who have been doing this work for a long time, as well as those who are just coming into the space.
How should we do this work?
Patience and grace, openness and allyship have been my greatest learnings so far. Continue to advocate for each other, we can only do this together. Striving for more information, deeper knowledge and not being complacent with current “best practices” is integral to our evolution. Thought leadership comes from everywhere, not simply the stage or institutions. We have a long way to go on this phenomenal journey. Damn it’s been amazing so far though!