Archive 27/02/2024.

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). Special thanks for @john.grant for all his suggestions!

Notation standard:

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.
  • Centralisation - a word used to describe a trend when one company wins the market and acquires or starves the competition in particular niche. It usually means a concentration of assets and power.

  • Cheat sheet - a table with secondary characteristics allowing for determining the level of Evolution of a given component. See the electronic version built by @bemosior.

  • Climate - a set of forces influencing the Landscape. It contains (but is not limited to):

    • context-specific forces - such as demography (aging changes priorities and needs), natural events (climate warming demanding more focus on renewables), political and sociological movements, breakthroughs in specific domains (such as ability to cure certain type of illness)
    • inertia (resistance to change)
    • supply & demand forces (Evolution and everything related, for example, focusing on higher order systems after industrialisation of a certain component)
    • individual actors goals - who is likely to do what

    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.

  • Commoditisation - a process during which existing products become very similar to each other (there is no point in adding new features), and brands become irrelevant. Very close in meaning, if not equal, to Industrialisation.

  • Commodification - a process which happens when something not associated previously with business or money gets commercial value, changing thus the nature. An example: Agile manifesto vs Scrum certificates.

  • Commodity - a state of Evolution in which the brand has almost no value and all providers have very similar offerings. The component can be easily acquired and sold. There is a huge level of compatibility between providers, and customers no longer see the commodity as a goal, but rather as a mean to a higher goal.

  • 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)

  • Componentisation - it is a process (and an assumption) that every activity formed in the Genesis phase as a blob (large object without clearly defined borders) will sooner or later be split into components, and those components will start evolving separately, opening the possibilities of being used in other contexts.

  • Creative Destruction - a process in which an invention drastically changes the value chain (or many value chains). Example below - Creative Destruction of the Newspaper Ad Sales - Ads are still provided but by different medium, Value is still created, but in a different way:

    For more, see this article.

  • Decentralisation - a trend reverse to centralisation. BUT:

    • decentralisation of a market, when one provider is being replaced by many small companies rarely happens (transitions between Evolution phases are best time to look for it). Which means that power, once centralised, is difficult to decentralise, and companies who gain control over ecosystem are very difficult to eradicate.
    • decentralisation of assets - a buzzword used to emphasise that not all assets are directly controlled by the power holder.
  • 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 - editable and interactive version at LearnWardleyMapping (LWM):

  • Game play - the most seductive part of mapping that comes at last. In the beginning it is all about fixing your operations (adopting Doctrine), nothing fun, just hard work. Later, it is about weighting risks and profits, and manipulating the Landscape (f.e. removing the barriers to entry to your opponent business, raiding talents or building alliances or any other usage of Context-specifc Patterns translated into your environment). In short, it is what you do to maximise overall well-being of your company. Examples:

  • Genesis - the first stage of Evolution characterised by non-existing market (potential customers do not know yet how to use the solution), high uncertainty (nobody knows whether the approach will really work) and high future potential (it may work in the future).

  • Jevon’s effect - happens when increased efficiency, counter-intuitively, boosts resource consumption instead of decreasing its usage. It is likely to occur during Industrialization of a component. Example: More efficient steam engines consumed more coal, because they were applied in more use cases. Check Wikipedia for more.

  • 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:

  • Innovation Paradox - While the innovation is a spontaneous act, a favourable conditions for it can be created by adopting certain discipline. However, if the discipline is too strict, innovation will plummet.

  • Landscape - how things are set up currently:

    • What user needs are being satisfied and in what way (what components are being used to deliver value).
    • Who controls what.
  • OODA Loop - check the wikipedia

  • Partial Order - a mathematical terms used to describe a particular form of relationship between nodes. See the wikipedia. Wardley Maps show a partially ordered components.

  • 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.
  • Productisation - a process during which a custom-built solution is being packaged and appears as a product on the market.

  • 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:

  • Red Queen Effect/Red Queen hypothesis - another definition borrowed from biology. If all the competitors are trying to get more efficient, those who do not will fall behind. In business, it means that if you are good at something, sooner or later, someone will become better, and therefore you have to continously strive to improve things you are good at, even if it leads to Creative Destruction.

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

  • Lists of Doctrine, Climatic Patterns, Doctrine, Scenarios/Gameplay - put together by @tasshinfogleman in a Google Sheet

  • Servitization - a traditional definition says it is:

    developing the capabilities they need to provide services and solutions that supplement their traditional product offerings.

    That should be read as:

    • I have a product consumers like
    • I figured out consumers use it mostly to do X
    • I offer X with all the dependencies.

    In fact, it seems to be a name for uncoordinated moving up in the value chain.

  • 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 Simon Says : Alexa Skills)

  • Situational Awareness - it is your ability to anticipate what will happen. The less you are surprised by how the situation unfolds, the higher is your situational awareness.

  • Spend Control - it is a way of encouraging (forcing actually) people to map before any significant resources are invested into a company project. Mapping gets added as a mandatory step to project execution process, and project cannot go past initial phase without being approved by a designated body (a board, or any unit overseeing the strategy).

  • Uncertainty - how confident are potential users that a given solution will meet their needs.

  • Utility - a final phase of Evolution, where infrastructure appears that can deliver the component to you when you need it (electricity lines, cloud), and you no longer have to bother with obtaining or installing a thing.

  • 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.


Is there a definition of ‘Capabilities’? When to treat them just as a component (one of many) on the map vs. when is it useful to distinguish them from other components?

This might help. It’s from the second paragraph before Figure 17 in Finding a path. Chapter 2 | by swardley | wardleymaps | Medium

You will regularly come across components that parts of the group feel passionate about. They will declare it as unique despite the fact that all your competitors will have this. There is also the danger that you will describe the component by how you treat it rather than how it should be treated. . . There are many causes for this, some of which are due to inertia and the component being a pet project and in other cases it is because the component is actually multiple subcomponents. In the latter case, you’ll often find that most of the subcomponents are commodity with maybe one or two that are genuinely novel. Break it down into these subcomponents.

In other words, when comparing several maps or exploring a map, and there’s not much disagreement about which stage of evolution a component is in, then treat it as any other.

If there’s much disagreement - some say it’s commodity while others say it’s custom, then break it down into sub-components. Some subcomponents might be commodity but some might be in custom.


I’m intrigued about the Simon Says Alexa skill.

It’s a project and one likely to provide an increasing awareness of wardley mapping. It could be quite consuming. Could it be done as a community effort perhaps allow contribution via the wardleypedia wiki?

For audio you want to chop up sound bites from his many videos. Again can this be automated so community members contribute their favourite quote?

And could we we create a chatbot, too?

I’m fascinated by them. I have worked in teams using chat bots where clever developers integrate their build tools into commands in their messaging system.

Telegram has millions of technical people and really comprehensive chat bot integration.

Oh, too many things to do and not enough time.


If I remember correctly, this tool was created by Drew Firment. I would ask him about his opinion here :).



couple of weeks ago, on the Friday chat Simon commented that you should try to play “First mover” when you are moving from Product → Utility. And “Fast follower” when moving from Genesis → Custom Build.

s there any relevant gameplay we should pay attention when moving from custom build-> product?

(it’s assumed that the player is in that given context and is competing there)

many thanks in advance


That’s a super interesting question. I am tempted to say it doesn’t really matter, as the market starts growing, so it is ok if only you manage to join the overal trend early.


I agree and disagree.

I agree, it does not matter.

I disagree, I would like to point to the capabilities a company or organization should have to benefit of that climatic pattern. Companies or organizations that have the relevant capabilities to benefit of that growth.

For instance, you could be using sensing engines to detect that growth, and then acquire one relevant player on that field. That could be a gameplay.


That’s a fair point. I am currently unaware of any specific practices other than building generic situational awareness, scanning the market for competitors (however small they are) and perhaps trying to pull off the ILC model (if you are a provider of utility services in some field).

The situational awareness could be automated to some extent, because products must be advertised:

  • identify expensive, custom-built projects (easy, people brag about them)
  • imagine products giving the same output, identify keywords that could be used
  • watch for ads announcing new products matching the keywords
  • evaluate the maturity of products

That looks like a good product idea :smiley:


thank you so much for your answer Krzysztof, all interactions are useful, as you never know where the right direction is.

Right, use of tool such google trends or google analytics right now gives you a lot of data that can be used to track behaviors and try to identify trends.


It also depends if you’re “attacking” or “defending”. The table that @tasshinfogleman [1] created also categorizes the Gameplays - the “attack” and “defend” categories are a good starting point.

[1] - search this page (Keyboard shortcut Ctrl+F) for “@tasshinfogleman” and follow link to Google sheet.