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  • Writer's pictureKrzysztof 'Chris' Daniel

Wardley Mapping is not for everyone

One of the first observations I made when I started my adventure with #wardleymapping was that maps were not appealing to everybody they should be. Most notably, successful executives were curious to hear about maps but reluctant to use them.

It was not that surprising, anyway.

If you happen to be successful, why should you even consider learning a new strategy framework if what you do is sufficient enough?

That lead me to develop my first hypothesis about who could be potentially interested in learning how to map:

  • people with a military background - because they already knew how important was situational awareness but they never saw this concept in business

  • Inquisitive people that were interested in new and novel stuff, and business field visualisation was definitely new, novel and appealing.

  • Executives in need - they have already tried everything they knew and were becoming open to testing things they did not know.

As you can see, there is something common between those three groups - it is the willingness to learn, and willingness to learn requires two conditions:

  • a mismatch between mental models and reality

  • enough of free processing power to notice that mismatch.

Those two conditions get a new dimension if you consider a key mantra of mapping - that you are the expert and that nobody knows your environment better than you.

There are many differences between what you expect and what you get; the fundamental question is: can you pay attention to them? Can you identify and exploit the opportunities they render?

Note that since you are the expert, you cannot expect anyone to tell you where you are wrong and where should you focus. This is your responsibility and your journey. You can delegate research of smaller mental models, but the big picture is on you.

It is surprisingly easy to get caught into action madness and start relentlessly execute things. But without a deliberate effort to evaluate the validity of your models in the light of results you have got... any success is a pure coincidence.

Wardley Maps can converge individual thinking paths, but without repeated execution and evaluation, you will never get a chance to figure out whether you have converged on the right path.

People need strong incentives to change, so if they do not spend time looking for opportunities to learn before they learn Wardley Mapping, they will not do it after they learned Wardley Mapping.

If you want to start your adventure with strategy, the first step is not doctrine, Wardley Mapping workshop, or even reading Sun Tzu.

The first step is to make regular time for strategic thinking.

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