Wardley Mapping brings to bear foundational research about how market pressures cause everything to evolve and change over time.

A visual approach to strategy that anyone can learn, Wardley Mapping makes it easier to communicate how things work, where the problems are, and what we intend to do about them in situations where our decisions matter.

When we make and discuss Wardley Maps, 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.

Importantly, it’s free! Wardley Mapping is licensed Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 and provided to the world by Simon Wardley in his free book, for anyone to learn.

Video courtesy of iluli by Mike Lamb.


Wardley Mapping /wôrdlē mapping/ (verb)

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

In his search to understand how to evaluate strategy, Simon Wardley found answers in military history and Sun Tzu: The Art of War. For Simon, 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, what was the equivalent of a map in business?

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 market evolution (Genesis, Custom, Product, and Commodity).

A Wardley Map

One of the key ideas behind Wardley Mapping is that we make better decisions when we understand:

  1. who our work benefits,
  2. what those benefits are, and
  3. the system of capabilities that come together to make it all happen in the market.

That’s what a Wardley Map is all about — making a model that represents the basics of the strategic situation, so we can make sense of it and act with purpose.

>>> Next Section >>>