Introduction

We make better decisions when we understand who our work benefits, what those benefits are, and the system of capabilities that come together to make it all happen. That’s what Wardley Mapping is all about — increasing our awareness of our strategic situation so our actions can be even more purposeful. Bringing to bear foundational research about the evolution of technology, practices, and knowledge, Wardley Mapping is a visual approach to strategy that makes it easier to communicate about how things work, where the problems are, and what we intend to do about them. As a result, we can steer clear of unforced errors and bring a nuanced understanding to bold new opportunities. Leaders at all levels choose Wardley Mapping to create clarity and purposeful action inside their teams and organizations.

Wardley Mapping is licensed Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0, courtesy of Simon Wardley.

Video courtesy of iluli by Mike Lamb.

Definitions

Wardley Mapping /wôrdlē mapping/ verb

The process of making strategic decisions (leadership) based on the purpose (“the game”), a description of the competitive landscape (a map), the external forces acting on the landscape (climate), and the training of your people (doctrine).

Wardley Map /wôrdlē map/ noun

A value chain — a chain of needs — (users, needs, and capabilities arranged and connected according to dependency) mapped against the four stages of evolution (Genesis, Custom, Product, and Commodity).

The Art of War

Simon Wardley, in his search to understand how to evaluate strategy, found answers in military history and Sun Tzu: The Art of War. Sun Tzu’s Five Factors — Purpose, Landscape, Climate, Doctrine, and Leadership — covered the minimum set of considerations required for strategic decision-making.

In military contexts, a map formed the basis for understanding the Landscape. But in the absence of a tangible competitive landscape, could there be such a thing as maps in business? To find out, see Simon’s book or keep reading.