In an earlier post, I wrote a public outline of what an AWMUG event might look like, to provide a safe space to practice mapping, from the perspective of an attendee. However, it’s much hard to make an effective Wardley map without having a decent grasp of whose needs you’re mapping, but at the same time, it’s understandable for an organisation to be a bit cagey about sharing information that they might see as strategically sensitive. In this post I propose a possible way around this.
It’s true that you you can use maps to present and discuss various kinds of aggressive strategic plays. There a few example of this online, and I’ve written a recent on myself.
It’s also possible to use them in defensive, or internally facing ways, that don’t present the destruction of a hated competitor as the goal. My post explaining my work with Growing Communities is an example.
It’s this second scenario that I think might lend it itself to a mapping event, as I described earlier, to let participants build up some confidence when it comes to using maps to talk about strategy.
When I think it can work – in environments with less direct competition
If you’re in a sector where what you do isn’t based around competing with others over a scarce resource, or your industry isn’t full of VC-backed entrants with cut-throat business practices, I think there’s scope to talk and make maps with other people who volunteer their time and expertise to come to an event. In fact, I think this is quite a good fit for all those involved, and I’ll try to explain why.
From the NGO perspective – lower risk, and more perspectives on your problem
Let’s say you’re an NGO, you’ve heard a bit about this Wardley Mapping technique, and you’re curious about whether it’ll help you think through how you’re currently serving a group of people your organisation is set up to help.
You might not have much capacity internally for thinking strategically, and even if you do, it’s often useful to have an outside perspective, to bring to bear on your situation.
Reduced risk through parallel mapping
Also, if you were interested in trying the technique, and you were in this situation, there’s an argument that having 3 or 4 groups trying to map out the environment with you would mean you have an increased likelihood of ending the event with at least one map that’s a useful representation of your organisation’s environment, and useful for future conversations about your strategy.
Access to senior people thinking about your problem
Also, most of the people I’ve spoken to about mapping tend to be mid-career, or senior professionals, who have worked in at least two industries, whose time would be quite expensive to get access to otherwise, and in this scenario, you have groups of them working in parallel to help you think through the problems you’ve been wrestling all year.
Also, by running through this process, you’d have a better idea where of where the common pitfalls were, if when you try running an exercise like this internally in future.
What I think you would need to help participants map well – common tools
As I said before, it helps to know who it is whose you’re mapping, as well as what actual needs are. Fortunately, there are now a few commonly accepted tools to help communicate this quickly to people these days. I’ll outline some below, that I think you might bring if you were an organisation wanting to have people map a scenario with you:
Personas: are a common example, and don’t need to be particularly detailed, or difficult to create to be useful. As long as they help people understand the key needs your organisation is setting out to meet, they;’l be helpful.
Journey maps: are another – they’re great tools for helping communicate where a service you provide fits into the life of the people you describe above. Again, creating these isn’t rocket surgery, and they don’t need to be really polished to be useful.
Business Model Canvas: again, these are fairly common, and don’t take too long to create.
In addition you’d need at least one person at the event to help answer questions as they come up during exercises. If you had more than one person, you might be able to have one person per group.
What else you’d need – venues, and attendees aren’t the problem now
It turns out that venues are less difficult than I thought – I’ve already had a few offers from different organisations in October and November.
Similarly, there’s no shortage of people interested in trying out Wardley Mapping as a technique – we’re getting a fair few contacting this blog to ask about it already.
So, the limiting factor now seems to be people who would be prepared to share a scenario for an event, and in return get what a load of smart people helping them think through a problem with them, for free.
Does this sound like it would interest you?
I’m writing this here to see if I can find some people, ideally working in NGOs or organisations where they would be interested in trying out mapping, and talking in a semi-public environment.
I’ve outlined the things I think you’d need, and I don’t think they’re incredibly rare.
Hell, if you’re working in an organisation like described above, but you don’t have the artefacts I’ve described, if you’re prepared to share them for a community event, I’d be up for helping you put the kind of personas, journey maps and other tools together myself, for free. This is pretty much my day job, after all.
You can drop a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact form.