A map of physical terrain is visual, specific to the battle at hand, and includes the position of troops and obstacles relative to an anchor (magnetic North).
A map of a competitive business Landscape (a Wardley Map) is also visual and context-specific, but instead of magnetic North, the anchor is the User being served and their corresponding needs. And instead of troops, the map contains a value chain — capabilities necessary to fulfill the needs, arranged according to their dependency relationships.
The position of the capabilities on a Wardley Map is dependent on two aspects:
First, visibility to the user, which is a natural outcome of a component’s relative position within the value chain, manually adjusted as needed.
Second, evolutionary stage, as determined through evaluation of the component’s general properties and characteristics.
Making a Map
Wardley Mapping is a straight-forward process, and most difficulties boil down to concerns about making “mistakes” or doing the “wrong” thing. It is much more valuable to discard these concerns up-front, embrace the messiness of the process, and learn by boldly doing.
The process of mapping is also the process of constructing a model of reality. An incorrect model that is also useful is the definition of success.
To make a map:
- Identify the Users being served
- Identify the Needs to be met (think of these as top-level Capabilities)
- Identify the Capabilities needed to successfully meet those needs
- Determine the stage of Evolution for each Capability by evaluating its characteristics (if it’s difficult to decide, try breaking the Capability down into multiple, smaller Capabilities)
- Draw the complete value chain — User at the top, Needs and Capabilities underneath, with dependency relationships included and Capabilities placed in Stages I, II, III, or IV of Evolution
The process can also look something like this…
1. Users and Needs
3. Value Chain
4. Wardley Map
Everything evolves from left to right under the forces of supply and demand competition. This effect occurs in aggregate in capitalism, because as long as there is a benefit to be gotten by making something better, it’s a decent bet that someone out there will do the work to make it happen. Use the tables below to identify how evolved something is as you map. The cells of the second table can be marked by clicking on them.