A successful strategy must be unique to the individual business, with strong situational awareness of the internal and external landscape.

I have been a long-time advocate of Wardley Maps, by Simon Wardley for strategic planning.

I considered writing an article explaining the concepts of Wardley Maps, however Simon recently presented at the Open Source Conference (OSCON), where he delivered an excellent overview. As a result, I decided it was far easier to point people at this presentation.

In my experience, the process of mapping is the most powerful, tangible way of defining a strategy. It provides a level of situational awareness that is difficult to achieve through traditional strategy techniques (SWOT Analysis, etc.)

Mapping also acts as a powerful communication channel, as maps are inherently easy to understand, especially when compared with the majority of strategy models positioned by industry analysts, who are rarely incentivised to make their assets simple to consume.

With that said, it is worth noting that the process of creating a map can still be complex, especially within an enterprise. However, what is often misunderstood, is that a map can only be created by individuals (ideally a team) who understand the business, not external consultants or third-parties. Therefore, although the process of mapping requires time, effort and iteration, it is self-rewarding, as it promotes collaboration and shared learning, which will almost always result in a better outcome.

To get started with Wardley Maps, I recommend you subscribe to Simon’s blog, where he often posts training materials, tips and tricks. He also offers formal training, which is facilitated by the Leading Edge Forum.