Personal relationship ecosystems: learning from the Muppets!

The current focus on 'social networking' might make us think we should spend most of our efforts warming up distant relationships and creating new ones. However it would be a big mistake to neglect the relationships we already have. We can learn a lot about relationship ecosystems from Jim Henson the inventor of the Muppets.

Jim Henson and Kermit

One of the first books to use the, now fashionable, term "Business Ecosystem" was "The Death of Competition" written by James Moore and published in 1996.

One of a number of 'gems' within this book is the idea of a "Personal Ecosystem" (p268-271) or an "egosystem".

Moore describes the way Jim Henson, the inventor of the Muppets, developed a highly effective personal ecosystem made up of three distinct groups:

  1. Kitchen Cabinet
    These are the guys who help generate new ideas.
  2. Advisors
    These are the folks who critically analyse these new ideas to see which ones are worth developing further.
  3. Agents
    These are the guys who can take an idea which has survived the critical assessment of the advisors and can bring it to life through effective implementation and action.

James also suggests a fourth group within a personal ecosystem - Decision-Makers .

In Jim Henson's case this is a group of one - himself.

So what shape is your personal ecosystem or "egosystem" in, do you have one, how much effort are you investing in it and are there any critical gaps?

An earlier version of this article was published on Feb, 2007.

About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson is an expert practitioner in the area of bioteaming, swarming, virtual enterprise networks, virtual professional communities and virtual teams and has published two landmark books:

Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Nature's Best Designs

The Networked Enterprise: Competing for the future through Virtual Enterprise Networks

Ken writes the highly popular bioteams blog which has over 500 articles on all aspects of bioteams (aka organizational biomimicry) - in other words how human groups can learn from nature's best teams.

Ken is also founder of an exciting European technology company Swarmteams which provides unique patent-pending bioteaming technologies for all shapes and sizes of groups, social networks, business clusters, virtual/mobile communities and enterprises. Swarmteams enables groups to be more responsive and agile by fully integrating their mobile phones and the web with bioteam working techniques. The latest Swarmteams implementation is SwarmTribes which helps musicians and bands form a unique collaboration with their fans for mutual benefit.

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