My Wardley Mapping Journey - Part 1: Serendipity

My journey with the Wardley mapping started around March 2018, I serendipitously bumped into a keynote “Situation Normal - Everything Must Change!” on YouTube, by Simon Wardley


I was fascinated, and attracted towards this very ‘New to Me’ model of visualizing and navigating the waters of business! It first took me by surprise, because I had never seen anything like this before in the context of business strategy.


I used to think that the art of storytelling, ability to influence or dominate others, ability to speak fluent English, exceptional presentation skills and a high intelligence quotient were predominant and mandatory attributes for someone to be a good strategist. I believed in this mental model because I used to see these common traits in the leaders that I have observed and worked with thus far.


Well, I continue to see these traits in the leaders who claim to be good strategists. It took me quite a while to come to terms with my shattered mental model.


As I recovered, I started looking for more content on mapping and following Simon Wardley to learn more from him.


I soon discovered that Simon also wrote a book that is freely accessible on platforms like medium, and started reading it. I am not an avid reader, but I read the first 3 chapters from the book in a jiffy and finished reading it in around 9 days! It was an enlightening experience that inspired me to apply the concepts of mapping.


I started wondering about the tools that I can use to create maps. Simon helped me with the tool that Chris Daniel had created. The tool was in a primitive state at that time, and I always found it efficient to use a pen and paper instead. Now there are a number of tools to generate and maintain Wardley maps, and I use Online Wardley Maps and Wardley Maps for Visual Studio Code, predominantly. Maps in digital form help with collaboration and maintenance. However, sometimes my old habit of picking up the pen and paper kicks in. A shabby but useful map is very powerful. The pen and paper is still the fastest way for me to map!


In addition to all the resources on the internet that can be leveraged to learn Wardley mapping, becoming 'X' is yet another to the list. Who is 'X'? - Well, according to Simon, 'X' is everyone and no-one.

It is an honor for me to become 'X' and learn from Simon.

I was naïve in the world of mapping, yet I experimented with 'X'. Simon encourages efforts to expand mapping very openly, and he did express his joy for my humble attempt. His explanation on the implications of meddling with 'X' (in this case, the axis), helped me realize that the 'Rookie to Expert' could also be labeled as Practices 'Novel to Best'. However, I still use the variation to figure out the skill strategy. At present, there are no labels other than Activities (Genesis to Commodity), Practices (Novel to Best), Data (Unmodelled to Modelled), and Knowledge (Concept to Accepted), which has separate identity yet, but the future is unknowable.

There is only 'X'!

It may take years to expand mapping, but it took just a few days to expand the map of my mind. My mental models started shifting from the storytelling to thinking in terms of maps. Its not a reversible process. Your mind will never start cooking up the stories again. This means that you are more likely to remain humble and teachable.

My experimentation with 'X' axis brought another serendipitous moment in my journey of learning the mapping, when Ben Mosior replied to that thread. I did not know Ben so well at that time, but I knew that he does mapping and teaches mapping.

I started learning from the rich content that he created on Wardley Mapping. I distinctly remember 'Wardley Mapping Burritos', which was the first video that I watched from Ben.

I attended his training sessions and other events from https://lwm.events/ and learnt some more nuances of mapping such as importance of making a list! Ben makes learning Wardley Mapping so much simple.

Do you have a list of things you care about?

There were so many other serendipitous moments in my journey that includes getting to know the community members and amazing mappers such as Chris Daniel, Tasshin Fogleman, Chris McDermott, Marc Burgauer, Prasanna K, Jabe Bloom, Cat Swetel, Erik Schön, Mark Craddock, Rachel Murphy, James Fairbairn, Joaquín Peña Fernández, John Cutler, Ben Ford, Adrian Cockcroft, Hanno Jarvet et. al. and learning from them.


I feel lucky to be exposed to mapping and having such wonderful and benevolent community of mappers. I wish I knew mapping early in my career, but its better late than never.


Not everyone like me should leave it to serendipity or probability to learn the subject of strategy the right way, especially when it comes to business. If you think the same way, and this article inspires you to learn the art of strategy through Wardley mapping, then you can commence your journey with some of the resources below:


If you want to go FAST first, then take a course from an amazing teacher of Wardley Mapping, Ben Mosior @ https://lwm.events/gofast

If you want to go DEEP first, then read the book from the inventor of Wardley Mapping, Simon Wardley @ https://lwm.events/book


Please share your thoughts and comments, while I continue to share my Wardley Mapping journey in subsequent posts.

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