Is it possible to have an economy operate like an ecological system? In this approach, balance is paramount and everyone profits, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the sources of the raw materials.
I believe that we are moving in this general direction given the rise of design as a way of thinking about business. Although we may not ever arrive at a pure ecological approach to conducting business, a hybrid model will likely materialize. It will likely not be based on competition, but on co-creation. Many companies, including several notable brands, are candidates for entirely rethinking how they are doing business in order to, effectively, stay in business,
This recent article in the Washington Post indicated that Gap, and its associated brands, have been struggling to stay relevant as sales have been slumping and corporate design and style makeovers have been unsuccessful. Perhaps their relationship to their customers needs to be reconsidered and a new means of delivering value is developed? I'm not sure the current generation of customers knows who Gap really is and why they should buy their products.
With the foundation of the company unstable, a new structural system needs to be designed that will make the company relevant to a new generation of customers. This process may involve having Gap expand into new markets or products. The answer starts with developing a deep understanding of what the customer wants and shifting the internal company organization and resources to meet that demand.
Design can work wonders in a company, but it must be pushed through all aspects of an organization in order for the full effect to be realized.