My Wardley Mapping Journey - Part 2: Secrecy and Overconfidence

Updated: May 13

At an early stage of my Wardley mapping journey, I was engulfed by secrecy. I used to think that keeping it a secret would help me gain a competitive advantage at work. It was like, I have invented a new language, but I want to be the only one to use it. It stopped me from finding people around to speak mapping with, and create a shared understanding on a particular subject matter or a theme.

The Secret Satan!

I was in denial for quite sometime. I did not seek help from others, because I wanted to keep it a secret!

I did not pay enough attention to the fact that the very concept that I wanted to keep as a secret from others around me, is already shared openly by its inventor Simon Wardley under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA).

It required a lot of introspection for me to come to terms with sharing the concept openly with people around me, especially at work.

I tried to share it with the people whom I trusted and cared about. However, none of them were keen to go deeper and use it as a shared language while interacting with me. Nevertheless, my hunger to know more about mapping and its application, continued to grow.

Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories - Sun Tzu

As I gained more understanding about mapping, my confidence grew and I tried to apply it wherever I could. However, my confidence grew more than I would have liked.

I didn't realize that I was becoming a 'Hazardous Beginner'!

As I learnt more about mapping, I noticed that there was no common language (I mean unambiguous, ego-agnostic, unisex, inclusive, unbiased, non-racist, polite, structured, reliable, and "best") that people at my workplace used, to effectively communicate and create shared understanding on the subject matter that they were discussing. In some of the discussions at work, I felt I was the only one, who knew the "best" strategic framework in the world! I felt "invincible"!

Map is imperfect and wrong, because its mappers are too! It's an abstraction of reality. It has perspectives too. A perfect map of a place is utterly useless.

I used to have discussions at work during tea break with my ex-colleague and a dear friend of mine, Ashish Sheth. In one of those, he said to me that, "Just because you have a hammer, does not mean that everything is a nail!". It struck a nail in my head, metaphorically. It helped me introspect and ask myself, "Am I looking at Wardley Mapping as a panacea to all problems?". It also helped me taste humility and keep a check on my confidence level.

As, Simon says, All models are wrong, some are useful. I have heard these words in one of the leadership sessions from a very seemingly seasoned leader, in one of the companies that I worked in the past. I don't remember his name, but when I asked where he had heard these words, he said, that he wears many hats, and one of those told him! Well, it was a creepy answer, but I sensed that there could be mappers in that company, who may not want to reveal themselves! One of the Directors of IT in the same company, was a practitioner of Wardley mapping, but I got to know about it only after he left the company. We exchanged a few words after he had left, and he told me that in his new company he is encouraged to map.

If you fear imperfection, then you are missing out on some valuable lessons!

As a hazardous beginner, I used to think that maps are always right, and those who map always have a competitive advantage. However, I soon realized that the map can only show the landscape and compass can only show the directions. Its the act of mapping with such wonderful people that matters, not the map itself.

A map is as good as its mappers!

Some of the tweets from Simon still inspire me to learn and apply mapping, get meaningful insights personally and professionally, and stay humble. To be a life-long learner, you need to stay humble, curious, and leverage your knowledge and experience to solve problems for yourself and for others.

Step 1: Start Mapping. Step 2: Talk to me after you have paid the invoice that I just emailed you!

I feel grateful to be part of mapping community. It helped me keep my confidence in check and get rid of the shackles of secrecy. I learn a lot from amazing mappers around the world.

If my journey so far, inspires you to learn the art of strategy through Wardley mapping, then you can dodge secrecy and overconfidence that slows you down, and commence your journey on a FAST lane first, by taking a course from an amazing teacher of Wardley Mapping, Ben Mosior @

However, If you want to go DEEP first, then read the book from the inventor of Wardley Mapping, Simon Wardley @

I also encourage you to seek help and guidance from the awesome #WardleyMapping community as well.

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

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