Episode 57 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with consultant Ben Mosior. Ben teaches clients how to visualize strategic intent using Wardley Maps, which are the focus of this episode.
What are Wardley Maps? As Ben described it,
Wardley mapping is a visual way of representing systems: its users, its needs, its capabilities, its relationships between all those three things. And then it’s also positioning those things in a way that helps their qualities become more apparent.
So, a type of systems diagram that is particularly effective at capturing context and intent. But more than an artifact; the mapmaking process itself brings clarity and alignment to teams:
By making visual artifacts — by talking about our systems visually — we can come together, look at a specific part of it, appreciate its qualities, and then together determine what our collective intent is about that part of the system.
This allows teams and organizations to act with greater focus, an ability many are missing. As Ben put it,
the most common mistakes that organizations make is they spread [their investment in time, attention, and resources] too wide. [They’re not] intentional about what they’re doing, and the result is they don’t make progress quickly. They don’t actually achieve what they set out to achieve. And you have an organization full of individuals just showing up to work every day, not really connecting to that bigger purpose, not really making a difference in the world. And it’s a system that actively trains you, that what you do doesn’t matter.
One way to overcome this lack of strategic intent and alignment is through what Ben described as “ontological map-making” — a phrase that resonated with me given my focus on helping teams ‘see the big picture.’ Wardley mapping offers a structured approach to creating such shared ontological maps.
I’m grateful to Ben for sharing his knowledge with us; I hope our conversation proves as valuable to you as it did to me.