Why are we looking at Wardley Mapping anyway?

This group of people came together out of a joint frustration: we are regularly in a situation where we are asked to provide strategic support for a company or project. We were looking for a tool to help a) provide some rigour and b) a common language for a strategy that people can use without relying on external consultants.

The purpose of this post is to share what caught our attention initially about the Wardley Mapping methodology.

What the Wardley Maps website promises is:


Big claims!

If you have thirteen minutes to spare, you should watch this video from Simon Wardley himself (don’t panic at the end as he rushes through, we didn’t get it the first time either). If you don’t have thirteen minutes, read on for our paraphrase…

Our takeaways from the talk are that the things regularly missing from strategies are:

  1. Situational awareness –  For example: should we be building X in-house or is someone building it better to whom we can outsource it (if it is not the highest value part of our offering)? 
  2. Evolution and inertia – What forces are acting on the market and within an organisation which drive or inhibit change?

These aren’t unique to this methodology, but (in our opinion) the nice thing about this methodology is that maps are comparable and you can see patterns across them. This is due to having a common notation with clear axes:

  • How visible an activity is to the customer
  • How mature / industrialised / evolved said value offering is

Above and beyond the points made above, we hope that value chain mapping might:

  • Help people start on thinking about the landscape in which a business operates from a visual perspective. When people start writing a strategy, they often get lost in the details and connotations of words leading to a world full of strategies full of fluff and hype. We approve of anything which can make strategies falsifiable.
  • Be a useful tool for communicating a business case – it’s visual, so the envisioned causalities can be very clearly demonstrated.
  • Be a useful tool for communicating how different people within a business see the landscape – it’s visual but the axes are fixed, so if people in different parts of the organisation disagree, there are guide rails for a discussion.

In our next posts, we will keep you posted with how these aims are holding up!


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