A New release of the Platform Opportunity Exploration Guide: Arena Scanning for Ecosystem breakdown

In this post, we present the release of a new version of the Platform Opportunity Exploration Guide. The new release features a new canvas – the Arena Scan – and new heuristics aimed at helping the designer come up with a solid Platform Strategy Model as a result of the opportunity exploration.

Luca Ruggeri

Simone Cicero

October 17, 2022


In this post, we present the release of a new version (the 1.1) of the Platform Opportunity Exploration Guide. More in detail, we now officially integrate the Arena Scan – previously released as experimental. The Arena Scan is designed to help the platform shaper approach the initial complexity of an Ecosystem, a task that is often daunting and needs a structured approach to breaking down complexity. The new, updated guide, also features a lot of new and integrated heuristics aimed at helping the designer come up with a solid Platform Strategy Model as a result of the application of the Six Platform Plays.

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Releasing an updated Platform Opportunity Exploration Guide 

If you’re a loyal member of our community you will recall that we released an update of our Platform Opportunity Exploration guide back in April 2021. That update brought to you version 1.0, after the consolidation of what was released as an emergent practice earlier on in 2018.

Today, approximately one and a half years after the release of 1.0 we release today a new update of the guide. This update – the 1.1 – brings you an extension of the methodology focused on helping you to get started addressing the complexity of ecosystems, breaking it down into more chewable pieces. This update is indeed focused on the introduction of the Arena Scan, an experimental technique that we presented early on already on this blog, but that we’re now integrating into the step-by-step process codified in the guide.


Arena Scan


The Arena Scan aims at providing a first facilitated approach to breaking down an ecosystem into smaller pieces and is to be used in combination with the rest of the methodology, more specifically as a preparatory step to the use of the Ecosystem Scan. 

More in detail, this new release (version 1.1) of the Platform Opportunity Exploration guide brings up truly notable changes:

  • Introduces a new canvas dedicated to Arena Scanning previously released as experimental;
  • Features new suggestions and heuristics to better complement the process of Arena and Experience scanning, including some inspiration from Outcome-Driven Innovation and JTBD Theory;
  • Adds more suggestions and real experiences with regard to the application of the Six Platform Plays for the transformation of the Value Chain;
  • Provides a completely rewritten and expanded phase 7 (Identifying value chains and the platformization space and prepare for the platform design process) that introduces more heuristics for the definition of a Platform Strategy Model through the identification of the several value propositions that could be provided.

Breaking down the complexity and vastness of Ecosystems with the Arena Scan

If you’re exploring an ecosystem – especially if you’re not referring to products and services you already provide – you normally have a very broad set of contexts to explore, and you may need to define an initial subset of the space to explore.

Note that there is a substantial difference between building a “traditional” (industrial) product, or an ecosystem-enabling one. In the former approach, the exploration focuses on understanding the customer’s needs, problems, and objectives, and providing a better alternative solution with respect to what is available today, a solution that can be produced at scale. In a platform approach, we want to provide the right enabling context and tools for the ecosystem to self-organize around the production of a long tail of personalized solutions to specific needs and opportunities.

As platform shapers, we are supposed to look at the context from a systemic point of view and create a strategy that actualizes the entire set of players who interact around common goals and, most of all, to understand the idea of systemic outcomes. In a nutshell, the focus of the designer needs to switch from solving one isolated consumer problem to finding better strategies that allow the production and exchange of value between the parties.

The Arena scan, in combination with the Ecosystem Scan, is aimed at helping the designer in the very beginning of the exploration, in answering the following questions:


  • Who are the actors, and what roles do they play, within the interactions that most characterize the ecosystem/context we are exploring?
  • What systemic outcomes are the parties in the ecosystem looking for / offering, and what phases, steps of interaction, layers, and aspects can we identify and describe?


Adding that a whole ecosystem is too broad to have clear answers to the above questions, due to its complexity, we need to reduce this complexity by identifying some smaller areas, that we call Arenas, where fewer players interact around a narrower set of systemic outcomes. 


Arena Scan Example


In a few words, the new, updated guide, will help you through the process of isolating, out of huge Ecosystems a set of smaller Arenas to be broken down into smaller areas of interactions, a bit like in a fractal process, in some sort of matryoshka dolls, progression, where we have hundred-ish types of entities interacting in the Ecosystem, ten-ish in the Arenas, and few in the smallest component of our mapping practice, something we call a “step”.

Check the guide for more details, the process description starts on page 41.

Learning to master the process

For those of you that are interested in learning with Boundaryless how to master platform thinking based on what is probably the most used, most accessible, and solid framework available so far worldwide:

  • attend our Platform Design Bootcamp: the program, the next one coming up in a few days, now extends to seven sessions of four hours; 
  • subscribe to be notified on the launch of the new format of the Platform Design Sprint (enrollment expected around the end of the first quarter of 2023) a new experience that will let you bring your own project into a continuous and stepped process, in a cohort-based environment;


Don’t forget to update your library now and:

Beware the copycats, choose the original, become part of a global community of tens of thousands that have been using Platform Design Toolkit to shape their dreams, business ideas, community projects and advanced policies for an interconnected world.


Luca Ruggeri

Simone Cicero

October 17, 2022

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