Notes on why Wardley Mapping was invented
13 Dec 2019
A colleague sent through a tweet thread containing resources for learning about Wardley mapping. I have no idea what that is but it sounds fun, so I'm going to go through each of those resources and takes notes.
This post focuses on On being lost - swardley
- On being lost - swardley
- On playing chess - swardley
- Video: Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones - Simon Wardley
- Limitless Strategy - LWM
- Mapping Mondays - Cory Foy
- Understand context and diminish risk: How to build your first Wardley Map - Miro
On being lost - Simon Wardley
Something to look into later, Simon mentioned a few strategy techniques he had learned in the past: 2x2s, SWOTS, Porter's forces etc.
He picked up a copy of "Art of War" by Sun Tzu (serendipity), which described five factors that matter in competition between two opponents: Purpose, landscape, climate, doctrine and leadership.
Following factor list pasted from original article, for my own personal reference:
- Purpose is your moral imperative, it is the scope of what you are doing and why you are doing it. It is the reason why others follow you.
- Landscape is a description of the environment that you’re competing in. It includes the position of troops, the features of the landscape and any obstacles in your way.
- Climate describes the forces that act upon the environment. It is the patterns of the seasons and the rules of the game. These impact the landscape and you don’t get to choose them but you can discover them. It includes your competitors actions.
- Doctrine is the training of your forces, the standard ways of operating and the techniques that you almost always apply. These are the universal principles, the set of beliefs that appear to work regardless of the landscape that is faced.
- Leadership is about the strategy that you choose considering your purpose, the landscape, the climate and your capabilities. It is to “the battle at hand”. It is context specific i.e. these techniques are known to depend upon the landscape and your purpose.
Simon said (haha) that when he plays chess, he knows that he has multiple moves available to him, and that he would have to adjust his strategy from each of those moves.
He also says that there are two questions of why when it comes to playing chess: 1) Desire to win the game, 2) Why this move over that?
The purpose of winning the game was not the same as the strategic choices I made during the game.
You learn by seeing the board, moving a piece and learning that sometimes one move would be more beneficial than another. Then you refine your craft based on the gameplay (the actual doing).
Simon's company went from surviving to being slightly more profitable not through any deliberate focus on the landscape, but by just grabbing opportunities and cost cutting where they could:
Crossing the river by feeling the stones.
He read the story of Ball's bluff which talked about the importance of maps and situational awareness.
If you can't see the board, you can't win against an opponent who can. You might try and copy their sequence of moves to reuse, but lose against them anyway.
I really love this article. Simon got a map and a chess board next to each other and started looking at them to see if he could identify what made the maps useful.
They are visual and help with navigation. Maps are more helpful than a list of directions.
Context specific. You need to know the position of pieces on a map and where they can move to. Position is relative to something (e.g. compass on a map, chess board itself C1 or B3).
- Visual representation
- Context Specific
- Position of
- Components relative to
- Movement of those components
In chess, navigation tends to be visual, learning is from context specific play, strategy is based on position and movement.
Climate are the rules of the game, the opponent's actions and how well you can anticipate change.
Doctrine: How do you know when an approach is universal (firing a rifle) or context specific (flanking an opponent)?
Oh wow this is such a sparky idea. Some people try and emulate the success of other people by copying the same things that they did to be successful. In the cases where they fail to acheive the same success, they might be told that they failed to execute the strategy correctly. However, they might have executed it correctly but in the wrong context.
Simon said that the best way he has found to cope with the iterative cycle of business strategy is through the OODA loop, developed by John Boyd in order to help himself better understand the process of air combat.
Observe the environment. Orient around it. Decide. Act.