Issue 7 - April 2019

I think one of the challenges and on at least one of the occasions when I’ve used maps... a pitfall that we fell into is one can get quite focused on componentisation, like components and processes and forget about people. And people are such a core part of anything that you do... when you’re doing a map, be careful not to forget about the people bit.

A participant, Building Situational Awareness paper

Welcome to April edition of Mapping Maps! Here's sharing with you this month's best of curated stuff on mapping. 


Big event of the month, of course, was the Map Camp ATL with an impressive lineup of talks. Check this write-up on the event for key highlights and some great takeaways shared by Tristan Slominski.

Process vs Evolutionary Flow

Specifically in Simon's talk, the big point seemed to be process vs evolutionary flow. I believe this point goes hand in hand with last month's discussion on role of Y-axis with Simon stating -  "The only real axis is the x-axis".  When focusing primarily on the process flow across Y-axis, the big risk we may run into is making the "highly ineffective more efficient" (H/T Claire Moss!) 

Stephen Kuenzli shared his acute observations on this matter as a problem of an organization ‘trapped’ in an existing context -

"This inertia encourages organizations to optimize an existing process when the organization could be better off evolving that process to a better fundamental configuration."

Stephen ends his piece offering this pragmatic advice -

"You don’t have to keep doing things the same way. Use mapping, retrospectives, and other learning techniques to discover the major evolutions that are possible in your technology landscape. If you limit your organization to incremental improvements, you’ll miss out on the really good stuff."

Agreed - on most occasions, it's far more valuable to focus on the evolutionary flow. However, in my humble opinion, once you get the evolutive placement of the components (almost) right, there is value to gain through Lean style process improvement of a value chain. Especially in the Product / Commodity areas of a map and I guess this is what the Settlers / Town Planners specialize in.  As Taiichi Ohno, the founding father of Toyota Production System, said making the case for flow efficiency -

"All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes."

A grandma, a blind guy, and a millenni-lady walk into a bar... and start sketching maps on the back of napkins.

 — Cat Swetel


Here's a collection of some interesting maps shared in the community this month -

Mapping Right Timing

Aidan Molloy uses maps to share story of Workday's evolution as a product. Amongst others in his story, shown above is an interesting map portraying an intentional decision of not using a more evolved component as the timing and readiness of the users did not seemed to be right -

"Reuse of commodity products like the new, growing Amazon Web Services (AWS) provided an attractive technology solution. But even though it made sense from a technical perspective, at the time, many customers were simply not ready to move to the public cloud. It was too early — a normal reaction to emerging technology, with lack of understanding, limited availability, and security concerns hampering adoption across all industries."

Learning to Map through a Map

Chris Daniel does some fascinating meta-mapping on the question of what does it take to learn or teach someone Wardley Maps. A valuable reference map indeed for all of us on the path to learning maps.

Optimizing with Maps

Holger Gelhausen shares yet another extremely detailed map of one of his client looking for opportunities to optimize and unify their IT.

Mapping Privacy

Taken from this UN handbook, above is a map describing current practices and their limits in analyzing data while preserving privacy. Unsurprisingly, the techniques to secure data at rest or or in transit are placed in Commodity space of the map. The handbook is focused more on emerging techniques for data privacy during computation. With components related to these techniques placed in Custom Built or Product space and are further analyzed as sub maps.

Other than the rigour of research in the document, I absolutely love the the legend used in the maps. The legend make it super clear if a component is a Practice or Data or a Knowledge node. Also, the specific legend for sub-maps - each such node is followed by there own full blown maps later in the document.

Some good mapping UX there!

Inertia & Power

Tasshin Fogleman shared key excerpts from his talk at Map Camp ATL.  He uses above map to make the point that inertia may be a clue that mapping power (with Burja Mapping) may help unblock the situation.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. It is only through other forms of maps that the field will grow

 — Simon Wardley


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

Building Situational Awareness with Maps

There's now a finalized version of the paper on significance of situational awareness in navigating constantly shifting digital landscape. The remarkable paper goes on to describe how Wardley Mapping enables situational awareness in the midst of ever changing components of a digital system.

My favorite part was characterization of maps as "performative" i.e. maps being both acting and constituting reality - 


"Just as Garud et al. (2014) show narratives as performative, where “to say something is to do something” ((Austin, 1975, p. 12; italics in original) – for a review of the term see (Gond et al., 2016)) so maps themselves perform. Like other narrative devices, our findings show maps not as purely mapping the “outside the world(s) to which they refer”, but also that they are “actively engaged in the constitution of the reality that they describe” (Callon, 2007, p. 318). Like other narrative devices, maps “and their world are caught in a process of co-evolution” (Callon, 2007, p.329). We observed in our findings the production of maps to be sometimes an act of rebellion through which strategic change was achieved. In one instance, the past digital ecosystem of an organisation was rendered clearly unsustainable in a ‘fur-ball’ of nodes and vertices on a demonstratively complex map. This could then be used to justify significant change in infrastructure within a number of organisations."

Game Play Series

Chris Daniel shared some insightful details on Game Play with some great real world examples - This being an advanced topic for me :-) quoting Chris fully from the Mapping Glossary -

"Game play - the most seductive part of mapping that comes at last. In the beginning it is all about fixing your operations (adopting Doctrine), nothing fun, just hard work. Later, it is about weighting risks and profits, and manipulating the Landscape (f.e. removing the barriers to entry to your opponent business, raiding talents or building alliances or any other usage of Context-specifc Patterns translated into your environment). In short, it is what you do to maximise overall well-being of your company. "

Mapping Fear of Missing Out

Kaimar Karu with pointers for tech leaders on how to do the right thing in between the two extremes of inertia vs fear of missing on new technology -

"Pay attention! Rather than panicking or getting over-excited every time you hear about something new, pay attention to what’s happening on the market. Keep your eyes and ears open to weak signals. Use mapping."

Wardley mapping and IT strategy

Mike Haber shared these beautiful slides. With some wonderfully done visuals, they look great for introducing anyone to Wardley Mapping.

Wardley Maps on ThoughtWorks Tech Radar

The "number 15" entry you see in above snapshot of the latest edition of ThoughtWorks Tech Radar is Wardley Mapping! It has been put under Assess category in the top left quadrant meant for Techniques :-)

Quoting a snippet (full description here) - 

"We’re usually wary of covering diagrammatic techniques, but Wardley mapping is an interesting approach to start conversations around the evolution of an organization’s software estate."

A shoutout to Wardley Mapping, which I learned about for the first time in Atlanta this week, and is now influencing how I approach consulting and advising.

Liz Fong-Jones at Devopsdays Atlanta

Decision-Making for Grown-Ups

In closing, leaving you with this fascinating talk by Liz Keogh. Other than Cynefin and Mapping, above is the list of approaches talked about in the talk to help make better decisions -

"Find out how these lenses and their associated tools are helping modern leaders to navigate their changing landscapes and ecosystems with clearer insight, less frustration, less risk and faster delivery."

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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