At the practices level, Wardley Mapping is one of the few truly new ideas that have come into this space recently. Invented by Simon Wardley in 2005, they are gaining traction because they are truly a powerful tool for making sense of complexity. 

 — Shane Hastie in InfoQ's Teams and Teamwork Trends Report

Hi there! Welcome to Mapping Maps Newsletter #13.

Apologies for delay in this edition of the newsletter. Though, considering the way things are nowadays, I'm sure this won't be the biggest inconvenience :-) I hope you are all keeping it safe and wish you the best of health!

As always, here's a curation of best recent findings on Wardley Maps.

On Attitude

Excited to learn about this forthcoming research project at LEF aimed at tracking industries entering the "war mode". Industries that are evolving tech and practices from a world of product competition to that of commodities and operational one. This would be a repeat of a study done few year back that gave us insights like Serverless.

Tracking such Industrialization requires techniques like weak signals anticipation. Here's Simon on a critical trigger of industrialization - change in attitude i.e. when people get fed up with the current state of things -

"For industrialization to occur, whatever is currently being provided must somehow not be meeting the consumers’ needs – be they the public, government or enterprise – and someone (the actor) must be willing to act on that."

Isolation Economy

Simon on how COVID 19 is acting as a forcing function to break inertia creating a new space of Isolation Economy. Focused on enabling new practices and meeting needs arising out of the pandemic -

"Part of the economy that will want to put things back together exactly as they were because of past success and inertia. This is the "we don't want to change" and "what's wrong with how we used to make money" brigade and then there's the smart money, that will focus on those new needs, those new practices, that'll adapt to the forced industrialization of a space and well, basically adapt."

Evolution vs Diffusion

More lessons from Simon's Twitter school. On how not to confuse evolution with diffusion despite the connectedness between the two patterns -

"So, #wardleymap lessons for today 1) The value chain axis is just scaffolding. 2) Evolution is not diffusion, evolution of a single meaning can consist of hundreds of diffusion curves. 3) Instances within the evolution of a single meaning can have common characteristics."

Further, as explained here -
  • Diffusion is about adoption of a specific change over time whether that change is something novel or a feature differentiation.
  • Whereas Evolution solely deals with the changing nature of something i.e. how an activity itself evolves from custom built to more of a product without concerning about adoption.

"Diffusion and evolution are of course connected. The evolution of an act can consist of thousands of diffusion curves of improving versions of that act, each with their own chasms. As an activity evolves, each more evolved version will diffuse from early adopters to laggards through its own applicable market. "

To API Or Not

More sound advice, in general, about doing stuff while being conscious of the surrounding context -

"These lessons are only a decade+ old, so it's unsurprising that most in business are unaware .... focus on users & user needs, where to build / not to build API based ecosystems."

Mapping Shape of Work

Other than using maps for facilitating conversations and alignment in a team, Matthew Ryall describes a creative approach utilizing maps as an indicator of the nature of activities a team would need to carry out -

"It can help a team identify where there’s a cluster of effort in the ‘custom build’ phase meaning effort to produce novel work. Alternatively an abundance of ‘product’ and ‘commodity’ components may highlight a heavy integration overhead. The map gives form to these patterns and becomes part of the team’s overall shared understanding."

Systems Thinking with Maps

On the economic & social impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, above map shared by Steve Purkis in these interesting slides. Talking about role of complexity thinking in organizational strategy -

"It introduces complexity thinking using Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework and demonstrates how system loops evolve in the complex domain as a result of safe-to-fail probes. It introduces Simon Wardley’s value chain mapping technique, and shows how organisations can use it to scan for exaptive opportunities as they are making sense of the chaos."

I find maps really to start to shine when you get into the habit of using them for pre-mortems and then post event you analyse using the same map in the post-mortem.

 — Simon Wardley

Data Flow

Check this podcast for a fascinating conversation on combining Wardley Mapping and Promise Theory to evaluate the future of event streaming. James Urquhart shares insights on what he calls Data Flow architectures - "a network of integrated streams using which businesses will connect to each other in the future". Check here for further deep dives and maps applied to track evolution of such architectures  -

"I am creating maps that I am using to step you, the reader, through my thought process. The map, and the language I use in my posts, becomes a common language for this purpose."

DDD with Maps

In this episode of Serverless Chats, Jeremy Daly chats with Susanne Kaiser on using maps alongside Domain Drive Design for enhancing visualization and staying focused on the core of the business -

"We tend to jump directly into the tactical at the bottom first, before we have covered strategic design and I would like to avoid it by putting Wardley Maps in place, starting from top to down, starting with the strategic design first. So we start at the strategic design within the problem space and that's where we analyze the problem domain and then like discover sub-domains."

On the same subject of fusion of Wardley Maps with DDD, Tom Asel share this perspective of applying maps within bounded contexts -

"In the context of DDD Wardley Maps can be used to make strategic decisions about bounded contexts. What changes are emerging? Which team and which method is suitable for which region of the map? In which bounded context (not system!) is it worthwhile to invest in order to make use of new opportunities? Wardley Maps are another tool in our design toolbox that we can access when needed."

We are finding that practices such as impact mapping, event storming, Wardley mapping, chaos engineering and evolutionary architecture, which we have been toying with for years, are now adding real business value.

 — Dave Anderson


Alex Hudson with John Grant - A Practical Introduction to Wardley Mapping
Two observations - community action is fully online now for obvious reasons and the good news is that there's a lot more of it!

Learn a loads here from events and workshops facilitated by Ben Mosior and bookmark this to look for upcoming ones. Finally, follow Wardley Maps Community forum, videos channel and slack for some excellent discussions and exchange of ideas.
Curated with 🧡 by Harprit
I would love to hear your feedback.
Wardley Mapping is provided courtesy of Simon Wardley, CC BY-SA 4.0 

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