June 18, 2020

The Ecosystem Strategy Map

Get to know the Ecosystem Strategy Map and how it helps business leaders intuitively navigate ecosystems with ecosystem strategy and design.

Ecosystem Strategy Map

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).

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.

Phase Use Case


  • Current positioning of your company
  • Current positioning of your clients
  • Competitive environment 
  • Partnerships
  • Socio-economical, technological and regulatory trends


  • Ecosystem strategies and positioning moves
  • Business impact (of positioning) and target positioning


  • Identify new partnering options (together with other tools)
  • Offerings and value propositions (together with other tools)


The Ecosystem Strategy Map helps established firms chart out potential strategic operations within their ecosystems. It can also assist start-ups in later funding rounds by serving as a pitch story for investors or identifying possible exit targets (for example, former partners who want to extend their ecosystem or integrate their value chain).

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

Download the Strategy Map for free.

Outlook: Specific scoping of ecosystem topics

We applied the Ecosystem Strategy Map logic to create a more structured approach for determining the proper scope for your ecosystem activities.

Examining current mega and technology trends and developments among major ecosystem players we identified 15 Ecosystem Domains across all Life Areas. Within each Domain, we found ecosystem themes that are currently developing or already flourishing as established Domains.

We categorized three sorts of domains: singular Domains (focused on one Life Area), converging Domains (covering several Life Areas), and super Domains (including all Life Areas). Super Domains are usually used as the foundation for companies positioned in a related role, such as the Super-Realizer Domain for Realizers and the Super-Enabler Domain for Enablers.

Ecosystem Domains

Below is a short overview of the main Ecosystem Topics included in the Ecosystem Domains: 

  • Seamless Mobility: Efficient and integrated personal transportation solutions (Autonomous driving, E-Mobility and Shared Mobility)
  • Holistic Wellbeing: Health as a whole (Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Corporate Health, Digital Health, Healing Architecture, Health Literacy, Preventive Health)
  • Rest and Relaxation: Personal recreational activities (Sport, Travel, Wellness)
  • New Work: New ways of working together and managing the workforce (Collaboration, Gig Economy, Human Resources, New Office)
  • Personal Wealth and Legal: Personal wealth creation and protection (Individual Finance and Investment, Legal, Real Estate)
  • Customized and Fast Demand Fulfillment: Everyday consumption of goods and services (Advertising, Agriculture, B2C services, E-Commerce and Retail, Sharing Economy)
  • Belief and Mindfulness: Personal distraction offerings (Awareness, Esotericism, Religion)
  • Relationships: Getting in contact with others (Communication & Social Networks, Dating and sex, Networking)
  • Adaptive Development: Knowledge-based offerings (Formal Education, Lifelong Learning, Science)
  • Personalized Pleasure: Enjoyment offerings (Arts, Digital media, Gaming, Sports)
  • Smart Environment: Smart offerings in and outside your home (Home Improvement, Smart City, Smart Home)
  • Security: Secure solutions in private and business settings (Defense, IT Security, Privacy, Justice, Identity)
  • Infrastructure: B2C and B2B solutions for infrastructure topics (E-Government, Financial Transactions, Smart Building and Construction, Smart Energy, Smart Logistics, Telecommunication Services)
  • B2B Services: General offerings for business customers (Accounting, B2B Banking, B2B Insurance, Business Administration, Business Law, Consulting)
  • Industry 4.0: Internet of things-based industrial offerings (Service & Maintenance, Smart production)

Given the ever-changing nature of ecosystems, these Domains are not viewed as permanent or fixed, but rather as a current perspective that is likely to change and evolve. However, they have proven stable enough to be useful for strategic discussions and long-term decision-making.

A small note that this list of Domains is currently on version v0.9. The Domains will still be further refined and validated (Version v1.0 will be published together with our book "Ecosystemize Your Business" in the near future).  

You can use these Ecosystem Domains and Topics to help you structure your company's ecosystem strategy. With your ecosystem strategy team, discuss and rank these topics and at the conclusion of this exercise you'll end up with a shortlist of your company's most important Ecosystem Domains.

Check out our upcoming articles where we'll be explaining more use cases, plus the four standard methods which help practitioners identify the right strategy and best positioning options.

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