Wardley Mapping

Strategic decisioning through visualization of a value chain's evolution.
Contributed by

Karsten Gresch

Published July 14, 2022

What Is Wardley Mapping?

Wardley Mapping is a framework of practices, invented by Simon Wardley in 2005.

Inspired by Sun Tzu's Art of War and the historical use of geographical maps in battle situations, Wardley used geographic maps as a paradigm for strategic orientation in business to gain "topographical intelligence".

Without knowing the geography of the battlefield, the location of one's own forces, or the enemy's whereabouts, it makes absolutely no sense to start a battle. Or, translated, to start or run a business.

Why Do Wardley Mapping?

Transferred to business outcomes, Wardley Mapping helps identifying the strategic landscape (i.e., creating the Wardley Map) and derive knowledge- and awareness-driven decision making and collaboration.

Wardley Mapping helps people to gain strategic orientation. It can deliver clear insights about what needs to be done to deliver desired value, identify unknowns and prioritize.

Wardley Maps in particular greatly support common DDD practices (see this presentation: https://www.kaiser-consulting.net/conferences/slides/serverlessdays-virtual-2020.pdf).

They can be used as an ad-hoc tool by the facilitator to quickly gain insights in value chain discussions and add a strategic dimension to it.

How to do Wardley Mapping?

  1. Identify the users being served by the business.
  2. Identify the user's needs to be satisfied (think of these as top-level product offerings (== capabilities)).
  3. Identify the capabilities needed to meet the needs identifyied.
  4. For each capability, determine the stage of evolution. Evaluate its characteristics using tools such as (if it’s difficult to decide, try breaking the Capability down into multiple, smaller Capabilities)
  5. Draw the complete value chain — User at the top, Needs and Capabilities underneath, with dependency relationships included and Capabilities placed in Stages I, II, III, or IV of Evolution

Wardley Mapping is licensed by courtesy of Simon Wardley under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

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Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Wardley Mapping practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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