Mapping Glossary



Work in constant progress licensed under CC-BY-SA, feel free to use it or improve it (this page is open for editing).
To propose a term - just add it, I will create an explanation sooner or later.

  • Bias - living inside an echo chamber and failing to recognise that situation has changed and once perfect solutions were replaced by something more efficient.

  • Duplication - learning, acting or constructing something many times across the organisation without considering the cost of commiting the same errors again and again. Usually, a good way of wasting resources.

  • Capital - anything what you control and what you can make to work for you. The obvious case - money, as you can acquire goods and services. The less obvious one - reputation, looks or social skills. Relationships with customers and partners (people in general) that allow you to do more than others.

  • Capital flow - one of two things, to be clarified later with @swardley:

    • When an industrialisation of a component happens, investors invest into businesses around the new, more efficient version. This inflates the value of new businesses, and deflates the value of old businesses. When higher-order components are developed, new businesses form around them, and investors shift their resources again, inflating the amount of capital working on a particular component (or component sets).
    • In a Wardley Map, there is a constant exchange of value between different components. You can put on a map exactly what is being exchanged to understand what is the cost/risk structure of a map, and what financial characteristics may your map have.
  • Coevolution of practice - when a component drastically changes characteristics (usually because of Industrialisation), all the best practices and knowledge related to the old characteristics of a component become of moderate usefullnes (they are optimised towards past practices). This leads to a transition period where all practices as seen as mature (but are centered around ineffective solutions), while the more effective solution does not have yet mature practices. Usually, new businesses, communities and tribes form around new version of a product.

  • Component - a part of a bigger whole. A fragment of the surrounding us reality that we decide (arbitrary) to treat as a single unit for the purpose of further analysis. (See On Component Identification)

  • Doctrine - a set of best practices that are necessary for any organisation to be able to build and execute strategy. Focuses on avoiding unforced errors.

  • Evolution - an artificial metric that shows how the characteristics of a component change, with four major phases. As the components gets more evolved, properties seem to follow a specific pattern. Simon has grouped these characteristics, and created the following Cheatsheet:

  • Industrialisation - a process, in which component changes characteristics, and transitions from the Product Evolution Phase to the Commodity/Utility one. Increased efficiency unlocks a long tail of unmet needs, and therefore we experience a series of changes, often later referred as a ‘revolution’. The Internet Revolution. The Industrial Revolution. etc.

  • Inertia - resistance to change. People want to protect what they really have, and will find real and imaginary problems to justify not changing. Simon has categorised different types of inertia:

  • OODA Loop - check the wikipedia

  • Practice

    • a special type of a component which defines how to do things.
    • also, the only way to get fluent with maps, as mapping is a tacit skill. Therefore: practice, practice, practice.
  • Publication Types - the tone of the publication (article, book, press release) changes as the Evolution of a given component changes. Depending on what is the main theme of the article, it belongs to a different type:

  • Scenarios - A set of actions helping you to influence your environment and other actors.

  • Simon - the person who created Wardley Maps. See his twitter account (

  • Simon Says - an Alexa skill that instead of starting a popular game quotes Simon, which confuses many people (See

  • Value Chain - a diagram representing components, and their requirements, and their requirements, etc., forming a chain (See On Value and Value Axis)

  • Visibility - a distance from the user to the component. The more intermediary components are on the path from the user, the less visible is a said component (See

  • Wardley Map - A value chain represented on a two-dimensional diagram, where one axis shows Visibility, and the other - Evolution

  • Weak Signals - at first sight, unimportant events, which, upon closer inspection, may indicate not-so-unimportant changes. They are based on correlation, and can be easily concealed/spoiled (hence their weakness), but it is very difficult to hide them all. Examples:

    • Your customer starts avoiding you before the contract renewal.
    • CEO of a company steps down due to personal reasons.
    • Your company undergoes a 3rd reorg in this year.

    If you anticipate certain changes, those events can mean a lot to you and indicate some bigger change has started happening.