How to design an ecosystem map to help embed your transformation

Three6 | 24 May 2020


Before starting a business transformation, it’s essential that you know where you stand and where you are heading. But more importantly, it’s key to pay attention to how things move during the transformation, not only on the surface but on the layers that are not as visible to us.

It’s only with a broad and deep understanding of your organisation, the different teams and their way of working, thinking and feeling – that you’re able to test different scenarios, make informed decisions and best plan your change.

Systems Thinking & Human-Centred Design

At Three6 we help clients adopt a systems thinking approach, combined with a human-centred mindset as the base for understanding their organisation.

Organisations are complex systems where your actions are just one part of the whole and will almost always have consequences in areas you probably haven’t considered before. A systems thinking approach enables you to see the parts the interconnected parts that make up your organisation.

But systems are not just made from hardware and software, they exist with your people too. So to deeply understand what makes them tick, you’ll need to put on your human-centred thinking hat.

Here is our recipe for creating a comprehensive ecosystem map:

1. Start with your customer

Map the customers who will be affected by the change to your processes and subsequent services. This will help you keep from of what mind what’s ultimately important, the customers you serve, their needs and desires. Consider different markets, targets audiences and channels so that you can analyse later on the impact on all your revenue streams.

2. Add people in your organisation who interact with those customers

Firstly, choose a different colour for them on your map. Consider them your internal customers, those who are going to be asked to change their processes, behaviours and/or systems they use. Engaging with them in the very early stages of the project is key. They are the ones that will help you drive the change if they see value in it, and for them to buy into the change, you need to really understand their problems.

3. Include any departments involved in the process

As you know, an organisation doesn’t operate in complete independence, or at least that’s not how it should be. Think of the departments that directly or indirectly touch the process or service you are changing.

4. Map the interactions and add the channels used for each case 

Include hardware, software and channels such as website, face-to-face or phone. Remember to map the ones used by customers and by employees. Use different types of lines to demonstrate how often these channels are used and how strong the relationships between departments are.

5. Behavioural archetypes

At Three6 we keep humans at the centre of what we do and how we think, and part of that is working closely with our clients to understand their employees and customers. Understanding what matters to them, and what makes them ‘tick’ ensures we’re designing a business transformation journey that is meaningful to everyone. Behavioural archetypes are models of people’s response to an experience. As the name suggested they tap into the behavioural level of cognitive processing. We look at who does what, and why they do what they do or think what they think about a change. You can do this by conducting in-depth interviews and then using the results as the basis for your change strategy.

6. Influencers

Often people who are not directly involved in the change process can still influence how others think or respond to the change. For example, a change within the marketing department can impact or be influenced by someone in finance just because two people from both departments are friends and discuss the change. It is impossible to capture every relationship in your organisation, but paying attention to these potential influencers can really help you in the future.

7. Stop and reflect 

Let’s stop here and reflect for a moment. If you look at your ecosystem map and it looks too tidy and similar to your organisational chart, then you probably need to go back a few steps and reflect on whether that’s the reality of the organisation or is it how payroll looks at it? For it to work, your ecosystem map needs to show your reality, no matter how ugly it may look, if you can’t see it for what it is then you won’t be able to change it or influence your people to help change it.


8. Pain points

What’s not working? What exchanges or processes are the ones creating the most pain points, delays, or blockers. How are they contributing to unnecessary workarounds?

9. Workarounds

Don’t ignore them. Your people will naturally find workarounds in response to their pain points but welcome them because they can actually say a lot about your current processes and can help you design and land new ones that help further engage your people. On the other hand, if you ignore workarounds, your people may decide to avoid your changes altogether and continue with their own way of doing things.

10. Gains

We tend to underestimate the value of gains or delight points when we are analysing processes and services. Just like workarounds, they may cause your employees to keep doing things as they have always done them.

11. What else?

Continue asking yourself this question. By considering all possibilities that can impact your business transformation along the way, you will identify and manage risks for you and your stakeholders. Think of what’s happening inside the organisation but also what’s going on at a market, society and government level.

Ecosystem mapping is not something you can do in an hour, or in the privacy of your office. It will take some difficult and deep conversations with a cross-section of people. Your map won’t ever be perfect, but it will certainly assist you when making decisions throughout your transformation.

The benefits of having a complete ecosystem map

Big picture – It literally gives you the big picture, it helps you identify important details, and triggers more robust questions and conversation with stakeholders.

Collaboration – Don’t keep it for you, share it with your project team and others passing through, they can collaborate, give feedback and get curious!

Diagnostic tool – By understanding the current state and the whole picture you can diagnose some problems and find opportunities that you otherwise may have missed.

Tracker tool – You can plan your next steps, have a very clear visual of the teams that might be affected by the transformation and even track their results.

If you are curious and want to learn more, send us a and we will give you a call.