Issue 5 - Feb 2019

It’s my belief that mapping is a power to be placed in the hands of individuals, not just organizations. More people mapping = more people making sense of their problems and doing something meaningful about them. To get there, we need practitioners who will share their experiences and help create the conditions for the thriving communities of tomorrow.

 — Ben Mosior

Welcome to February edition of Mapping Maps — a monthly newsletter on all things Wardley Maps!

Mapping Everything!

Mapping education continued this month on Simon Wardley's Twitter as he shared a wide array of subjects on which mapping can be applied; highlighting versatility of maps in improving situational awareness of the landscape in a variety of contexts.

As Joe Pinder points out -

"Wardley mapping scales brilliantly and situational awareness applies in every context. It's a great way to organize thoughts and increase communication velocity for the initiated."

Here's the list of topics illustrated with maps -

Personally, there is one element that doesn't get mentioned which I would take over all the others combined - situational awareness. If I've got better situational awareness, then the rest could be crap but I'll still win.

 — Simon Wardley


Here's a collection interesting maps discovered this month -

Skating to where the puck is going!

This term could be cliche but I'm not sure of any other tool that is so instrumental in visually tracing the movement of "the puck" and helps to make our moves accordingly -

"If I focus on where my project / company / organisation is [C] then it's easy to think that moving to [A] is progress but in reality by the time we reach it, the act is likely to have moved on. Hence, I tend to focus on where the market is [A] and where it's going in the future [B]. In such a case, my position [C] is often a sign of technical debt and the better move would be to skip [A] and go to [B]."

Mapping Automotive Industry

A map picturing prospective state of automotive industry in the year 2025 as shared by Simon Wardley in his blog. The map was used by Matt Lewis in his blog post to anticipate the future role of his organization in such evolving landscape -

"What is clear is the future will be one of massive changes (and uncertainty) to existing business models, constructs and processes that have existed for some time. Entities such as Driver and Vehicle will become blurred. Sensors will generate huge quantities of data offering enormous potential value. Consumers will expect not just joined up motoring services, but transport services, and for them to be integrated into their everyday life. Organisations will need the capability to react to these changes and adapt accordingly."

Mapping Practices

In a piece on what the U.S. Navy and the industry can learn from each other Brian Rivera maps a wide array of practices from both sides -

"To survive and thrive in VUCA, technology and reductionist approaches to change management often disguised in Agile and Lean clothing do not contain the answers business and military leaders need to gain and maintain a competitive edge. Instead, the next generation edge is found in knowledge management, cognitive sciences, complexity science, psychology, the science of teamwork, and other natural sciences such as biology and anthropology."

Copying Spotify

John Cutler mapped the problem of copying Spotify model :-)

The trouble with copying "the Spotify Model". You're only copying a small part of the overall "stack".

Mapping Not-Invented-Here-Syndrome

Holger Gelhausen shares the story of a project that failed despite a big spending. The root cause being too much focus on custom building of many components -

"A lot of tools are build inhouse and are not shifiting to more evolution and the results are: spend millions, dealers quit, bad reputation. The irony of the story, the lead developer still thinks he built a good system." 

Maps to put it simply, though they are useful, they are also wrong. Someone will create a derivative that is a better way of mapping and that's useful for everyone, for the entire community. The fastest way of making that future happen is to share, to make it creative commons share alike.

 — Simon Wardley


Here's a round up of a few write ups on mapping shared this month -

Mapping Meaning

Chris McDermott shares the idea of guiding conversations about Mapping Maturity with enabling constraints; rather than constraints that may hinder team's engagement in conversations around mapping. Influenced by work on Social Practice Theory, he explores the idea of mapping what the practice means to a team rather than focusing merely on a constrained definition of the practice - 

"What I’ve started to find interesting when producing maps with teams is not to delve into the named practice but to look instead at the meaning of the practice. It allows us to develop slightly more abstract maps which has the effect of making them more coherent. Another way to put it is to ask, what is the job this practice is doing for us?"

Making Sense of Wardley Maps

Sue Borchardt shared first experience of applying mapping in context of defining strategy for a peace and justice committee. It's a nice read from perspective of applying mapping for the first time as a practitioner. Also, there were great many things to learn in the discussion that followed. For example, the case of having multiple anchors in a single map when there are many different types of users. And especially the following point regarding significance of visibility level across y-axis -

"Over time, you will discover that things such as the y-axis are completely artificial. They only exist as a teaching aid. You can get rid of them when you're ready."


The following two posts, though not based on Wardley Mapping per se, are influenced by mapping in an interesting way -

Reverse Wardley

Mike Burrows shares his approach of portraying outcomes during workshops where he uses x-axis for ambiguity (ambiguous outcomes with multiple and/or unknown solutions placed towards the left) and y-axis for visibility (moving upwards the outcomes that are more visible to the user). He clarifies that the result isn’t a Wardley Map as, for example, it lacks anchor and dependencies -

"Process-wise, it’s in reverse with respect to Wardley Mapping, because it’s done bottom-up instead of customer-first, and x-axis before y."

Mapping a business as a brain 

Francis McGregor-Macdonald shared in this post that he leveraged Wardley Mapping as a tool to understand a business holistically and "map it as a brain" -

"Considering an organization as a brain isn't a new idea, having a tool to map it out as one seems to be. There was no tool or process I was able to find, the fantastic mapping work of wardleymaps was the closest to what I needed to do."


Here are a few upcoming events that are either fully focused on mapping or offer talks on the same. Also, check out the resources below for helping in learning and applying maps.



Ben Mosior and Tasshin Fogleman have created an excellent new reference site for mappers.  A useful tool indeed both for quick-reference and for introducing people to mapping. The site includes sections on Landscape, Climate, Doctrine, Leadership and a glossary.

Also, check the community forum for more learning resources and glossary.
Curated with 🧡 by Harprit
I would love to hear your feedback -
Wardley Mapping is Creative Commons 3.0 Share Alike

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