Mapping Service Ecosystems

This workshop will introduce the audience to service ecosystem mapping, and how the role it plays in identifying, diagnosing and creating intervention models to correct system-level problems.

While the increased popularity of service blueprints and customer journey maps is an encouraging sign for the proliferation of service design into the mainstream experience design toolbox, the fact remains that by themselves, they aren’t always ideal methods when dealing with senior business stakeholders in the context of overall business discovery and strategy. The theory behind systems thinking and an approach to visualize the service ecosystem at a high level should be part of the toolkit of every design strategist.

Learning the basics of facilitating ecosystem mapping exercises goes a long way towards being able to identify the role and influence a company has in its ecosystem, and pinpointing which key parts of that ecosystem should be given strategic priority (and consequently be journey mapped or blueprinted in detail if those journeys are deemed critical). Understanding an organization’s ecosystem is not just about visualizing and diagramming it. Being able to identify and apply the right lenses to craft a visual representation that tells a compelling story can become a key sense-making tool in your strategic arsenal.

Who should attend

The material is best suited for intermediate to senior researchers & designers, product managers, and business leadership looking to add new techniques derived from systems thinking to their method toolbox. The workshop assumes some prior exposure to visual and/or design thinking and a basic understanding of classic service design methods, though neither of those is a prerequisite.

Topics covered

Core concepts of systems thinking and how it differs from our traditional ways of representing and understanding complexity. Framing, boundary setting, and its importance in identifying the scope of an ecosystem. The most common types of ecosystems and a methodology for ecosystems mapping.

Throughout the workshop, a combination of presentation, discussion, and individual and group hands on work will be used to tackle an ecosystem of your choice. Participants will work in groups (4-6 per table) towards conceptualizing a service ecosystem map.

The topics covered in this workshop include:

Part I: Theory
(includes 4 individual exercises)

  • Complexity and a cautionary tale
  • Future skill-sets, perspective and approaches related to how we design
  • Systems
    • Mindset
    • Scale
    • Methods
  • Visual thinking, design thinking, systems thinking and futures thinking
  • Deep dive on systems and systems thinking
  • What is an ecosystem?

  • Visualizing systems
  • Ecosystem mapping methods in design
    • Device ecosystems
    • User ecosystems
    • Content ecosystems

    • Service ecosystems

Part II: Practice
(includes a full ecosystem mapping activity for table groups in 5 exercises)

  • Mapping a service ecosystem
    • Diagnosing whether we’re dealing with system-level problems
    • Conducting system-level research
    • Identifying primary and secondary ecosystem actors
    • Drawing rich pictures of the ecosystem
    • Grouping primary service clusters
    • Adding secondary clusters and setting ecosystem boundaries
    • Identifying and applying ecosystem lenses
    • Defining service-level interventions

Part III: Conclusions

  • How it all ties together
  • Further reading
  • Wrap-up and Q&A