The ecosystem metaphor for business may be too trendy, too tired, or both, but it can still be a useful one. I like the use of the metaphor by Marco Iansiti and Roy Levien, and have used it in writing about WordPress and Automattic.
I was looking back over that piece of writing, and found that Marco and Roy have a free 3-page paper at the Harvard Business School site: Creating Value in Your Business Ecosystem. It’s an excerpt from an article, which in turn is based on a book, but you can get the gist from the 3-pager, along with links to the longer version if you’re interested enough.
The thing I like about Marco and Roy’s use of the metaphor is their emphasis on what they call keystone organizations, which emphasize the overall health of their ecosystems. I consider Automattic to be such an organization. I seem to remember that CEO Toni Schneider is fond of the ecosystem metaphor, although I don’t know whether he’s read Marco and Roy’s stuff.