How to conduct an ecosystem mapping


How to conduct an ecosystem mapping

On a wall or Miro/Mural board, start with a large circle with circles around it. Each person (working in groups of 2) starts cataloging ecosystem entities…if you have a large team, create groups that can tackle each of the four ecosystems (Planetary, Business, Service, Users).

Start by

Planetary Ecosystems

  1. Material Sourcing:
    • What specific materials are required for the product or service?
    • Where are these materials currently sourced from?
    • Are there alternative sources or materials that are more sustainable and have lower ecological impact?
  2. Supply Chain Analysis:
    • What is the entire supply chain for each material, from extraction to production and distribution?
    • Which stages in the supply chain contribute the most to environmental impact?
    • Are there any bottlenecks or points of concern that need to be addressed?
  3. Ecosystem Impact Assessment:
    • How does the extraction or harvesting of each material impact the local ecosystems?
    • Are there any endangered species or habitats affected by these activities?
  4. Carbon Footprint:
    • What is the carbon footprint associated with each material’s production and transportation?
    • Can renewable energy sources be used to reduce the carbon emissions?
  5. Water Usage:
    • How much water is required for the extraction and processing of each material?
    • Are there any water scarcity issues in the regions where the materials are sourced?
  6. Social and Community Impact:
    • What are the social implications of material extraction on local communities?
    • Are there any labor rights or human rights concerns?
  7. Circular Economy:
    • Can the materials be sourced or used in a way that promotes a circular economy, where waste is minimized and resources are recycled?
  8. Life Cycle Assessment:
    • What is the overall life cycle impact of the product or service, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal?
  9. Certifications and Standards:
    • Are there any certifications or standards related to sustainable sourcing for the materials in question?
    • Do suppliers adhere to these standards, and if not, how can they be encouraged to do so?
  10. Alternative Materials:
    • Are there any innovative or alternative materials that could be used to replace the current ones, which have a lower ecological impact?
  11. Local Sourcing:
    • Is it possible to source materials locally to reduce transportation emissions and support local economies?
  12. Collaboration and Partnerships:
    • Can partnerships be established with suppliers and other stakeholders to jointly work on sustainability initiatives?
  13. Monitoring and Transparency:
    • How can the sustainability efforts be monitored and evaluated over time?
    • How can transparency be ensured, so consumers and stakeholders have access to relevant information about the sourcing process?

Business Ecosystems


a) Stakeholders: This encompasses all parties involved in the creation and delivery of the product or service, such as suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Establishing strong partnerships with reliable stakeholders can streamline the supply chain and ensure seamless operations.

b) Competition: Understanding the competitive landscape is vital for businesses to identify their unique selling points and create a value proposition that differentiates them from others in the market.

c) Industry Trends: Adapting to industry trends and technological advancements is essential to remain relevant and ahead in the market. Businesses that stay open to innovation can seize opportunities and stay ahead of the curve.

d) Regulations and Compliance: Complying with legal and regulatory requirements is crucial for ethical and sustainable business practices. It helps build trust with customers and fosters a positive brand image.

  1. List all roles/actors that help make it functional – E.g., employees, suppliers and contractors.
  2. For each role, consider what they do, how they do it and what they need to do it. Include these sorts of things:
    • Practices they perform (services/value they deliver)
    • Information they need, use/need to use, or share
    • People/systems they interact with
    • Services available to them
    • Devices they use
    • Channels through which they communicate
  3. Place your service in the middle and the most important actors/roles close by. Draw as many circles as required; add each role or actor to the image, moving outwards for supporting actors/roles. If your system is complex, try grouping the roles/actors along the circle according to what role they play in relation to your service.
  4. Consider how each actor depends on the other actors and draw lines of dependencies between them. This will show how actors must collaborate, and expose any breaks in your ecosystem.

As a group activity (recommended): Since ecosystem maps are often complex, it’s better to create them as a team to ensure you cover all actors/parts, like so:

  1. Everyone draws a map of the current ecosystem from their point of view.
  2. Everyone presents their map to the group; together the group notes similarities and differences.
  3. Post the individual maps on a wall and draw connections between them.
  4. Combine the individual maps into one coherent map; use it to help create a service blueprint.


  • As with lifecycle maps, well-made ecosystem maps give an accurate overview where you can zoom in on specific areas. So, ensure you understand the details of how the various parts of your service work together and what each one involves. An oversimplification of just one part (e.g., a database) might make you overlook potential opportunities for improvement, or cause potentially costly oversights.
  • Because ecosystem maps should reveal services as functioning real-world entities, they can quickly expose problem areas. However, ecosystems can be highly complex; so, be careful that when you find a problem you don’t isolate it as a symptom to address—instead, look at the big picture cause-and-effects-wise. The smallest inappropriately considered change in one area can cause unforeseen repercussions.
  • Although it’s challenging, you can also make a map of a future/ideal service with a view of whatwhyhowwhowhen and where.



  1. Service Ecosystems – From Service Design

Service Ecosystems focus on the end-to-end customer experience and how various touchpoints interact to deliver value. Service Design plays a vital role in mapping out these interactions and creating seamless, user-centric experiences. Some key elements of Service Ecosystems include:

a) Touchpoints: These are the points of contact between customers and the service provider. This could include physical locations, websites, mobile apps, customer support channels, and social media platforms. Each touchpoint should be designed with a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and preferences.

b) Customer Journeys: Mapping out customer journeys helps identify pain points and opportunities for improvement. By understanding the different stages a customer goes through while interacting with a service, businesses can optimize their processes and enhance customer satisfaction.

c) Omnichannel Approach: Embracing an omnichannel approach ensures a consistent experience across various touchpoints. Whether customers interact through online platforms, brick-and-mortar stores, or customer service centers, the experience should remain coherent and seamless.

d) Feedback Loops: Incorporating feedback mechanisms allows businesses to gather insights directly from customers. This feedback can be invaluable for identifying areas of improvement and uncovering new opportunities.

  1. User Ecosystems – Involving Secondary and Tertiary Users

User Ecosystems refer to the broader network of users who interact with a product or service, including not only primary users but also secondary and tertiary users. These users play different roles but collectively impact the success of the offering. Understanding their needs and expectations is crucial for a well-rounded user experience. Key components of User Ecosystems include:

a) Primary Users: Primary users are the main consumers of a product or service. Understanding their preferences, pain points, and behaviors is essential for tailoring the offering to their needs effectively.

b) Secondary Users: Secondary users may not be the direct consumers, but they influence the user experience. For example, in a family context, parents may be secondary users for products targeted at children. Catering to their concerns can enhance overall satisfaction.

c) Tertiary Users: Tertiary users are indirectly affected by the product or service experience. These could be community members, the environment, or other stakeholders. Considering their well-being can lead to more sustainable and socially responsible business practices.

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