The Ecosystem Strategy Map

Written by Julian Kawohl and Denis Krechting

June 18, 2020

The Ecosystem Strategy Map is our central tool to help business leaders intuitively navigate ecosystems with ecosystem strategy and design. In past articles, we explained the Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H) paradigm and derived the two dimensions of the Ecosystem Strategy Map: The 10 Life Areas that describe areas of human needs and the 3 Roles that describe positioning options for companies within ecosystems. In this article, we will show you how to use the Ecosystem Strategy Map to gain an initial understanding of your company’s ecosystem positioning as a starting point to identify new areas of business growth.

The Ecosystem Strategy Map

The first step in a company’s ecosystem strategy process is to get an understanding of the status quo – a company’s current positioning. To do that, we use the Map with its two dimensions, the 10 Life Areas and the 3 Roles (based on the E2H perspective).

Ecosystem Strategy Map Overall
The Ecosystem Strategy Map: 10 Life Areas surround the final customer/human in the center and 3 roles indicate the relationship with the final customer/human.

We recommend that you download the Ecosystem Strategy Map (free), plot it on a poster up on the wall, and sketch out your ecosystem activities and offerings.

Example: adidas’ ecosystem positioning

Let’s have a look at the core offerings of the German sportswear multinational adidas. They are producing footwear, apparel, hardware products (such as bags, balls, or fitness equipment) for professional and amateur athletes. adidas also owns the popular fitness app Runtastic that helps amateur athletes train and track their progress. Hence, they are focusing on the need to “recharge your batteries” with sports (Life Area Recreation). The company is also selling consumer sportswear (‘athleisure’), i.e., clothing (Life Area Consumption). adidas takes on the role of a Realizer providing these products directly to the final customer. In both positions, they also offer their membership program Creators Club.

Another key activity of adidas is marketing its products through sponsorships of professional athletes and sporting events. As a result, adidas fulfills the need to have a good time watching sports (Life Area Entertainment) by supporting other companies in providing great sporting events. In doing so, the company also plays the role of an Enabler.

Last, adidas is positioned as a Realizer in the Life Area Socialize. Its international community adidas Runners combines running groups in different cities around the globe and community events with the Runtastic App. This offering fulfills the Human Need “connecting with others”.

Ecosystem Strategy Map Adidas
The Ecosystem Strategy Map with adidas’ positioning (extract of only core offerings).

Mapping the current positioning is the first step. It creates discussion and alignment within management teams to better understand the underlying needs that a company is fulfilling with its offerings and in which roles it’s playing. 

More use cases of the Ecosystem Strategy Map

Starting with a company’s current ecosystem positioning, the Map’s intuitive visualization can be used to gain a multitude of insights when kicking off the analysis phase of an ecosystem strategy project. It can be further used to strategize the best positioning moves and develop the target positioning as the foundation of an ecosystem strategy. The Ecosystem Strategy Map can then be used for ecosystem design together with other tools to identify new partners and craft ecosystem offerings.

PhaseUse Case
Analyze– Current positioning of your company
– Current positioning of your clients
– Competitive environment 
– Partnerships
– Socio-economical, technological and regulatory trends
.
Strategize– Ecosystem strategies and positioning moves
– Business impact (of positioning)Target positioning
.
Design– Identify new partnering options (together with other tools)
– Offerings and value propositions (together with other tools)

Conclusion

The Ecosystem Strategy Map helps established companies map out their possible strategic activities within their ecosystems. It can also help startups in later financing rounds as a pitch story for investors or to identify potential exit targets (e.g., former partners who want to extend their ecosystem or to integrate their value chain). 

In upcoming articles, we will explain more use cases, plus the 4 standard strategies among them, which help practitioners define the right strategy and identify the best positioning options. 

BONUS: Download our Ecosystem Strategy Map for FREE. To understand the Map better and use it successfully, please read our previous articles to learn more about the E2H paradigm and the two dimensions: The 10 Life Areas and the 3 Roles.

Ecosystem Strategy Map Template
Download the Ecosystem Strategy Map Template


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