I’m spending more time recently working with GitHub actions and runners. I’ve found it helpful to test the GitHub Actions workflows on my local dev machine to get quick feedback and to also not populate my git histoy with “fix”-type commits.
I have docker running on my machine.
The workflows use only linux containers. `act` currently doesn’t support Windows or Mac.
Download and configure act and test initial run
Configure act to use non-default docker image with env vars and secrets
That runs-on tag tells the runner to use the ubuntu-latest image when executing the job.
When running the job locally, act has to somehow know which docker image to use when it sees the ubuntu-latest in the workflow yml file. This mapping exists in the act config file, $HOME/.actrc. The ubuntu-latest tag points to the docker image ghcr.io/catthehacker/ubuntu:act-latest
In a simplified way, act does the following:
reads the workflow yml
finds that the job should run on ubuntu-latest
looks up its config, sees ubuntu-latest is mapped to ghcr.io/catthehacker/ubuntu:act-latest
Now act will run the workflow on docker image localhost:5000/my-awesome-docker-image:0.1.0
If I want to run a custom runs-on tag against the act default images, replacing the above, i.e., localhost:5000/myawesomeselfhostedrunner:0.2.0 with ghcr.io/catthehacker/ubuntu:act-latest would also work:
In the “incumbent,” I see myself and that mindset fixated on “traditional” careers. There’s also that “traditional” job application process where every application, every interview is “starting from scratch” as swyx so aptly phrased in. A bit of “side hustling” is in there too. But maybe I’m overthinking the similarity.
What then is orthogonal to that? Much of what’s covered in the Swipe File strategy.
Map what’s in a book or an article. I’m using “book” to mean all that we mentally consume that interests us. That could be books, articles, wikipedia, tweets, podcasts, zoom conversations, and so on.
So why practice in this way? I see three reasons.
books provide material to map
books give us a context we can share and therefore map with others.
books are an excellent guard against accidentally breaking NDAs.
Must I practice? Nope. It’s your life. You can do whatever you want. But I think your mapping improves faster the more you practice. Think of it like a game. Besides, there’s no pressure to make the maps polished.
Books provide material to map
The most important reason is that we don’t have to worry about that nagging feeling, asking ourselves, “what should I map?” or “I don’t have anything to map.” Books provide the material, “the matter,” and we give it “expression” – we express the matter as a map.
When we’re learning to express “some thing”, we should remove the additional cumbersome job of finding that “some thing” so that we can concentrate on “expressing” it.
Alexander Bain realised this when teaching English Composition. He tells us,
The composition of Themes involves the burden of finding matter as well as language; . . . For an English exercise, the matter should in some way or other be supplied, and the pupil disciplined in giving it expression. . . . Another exercise is the conversion of Poetry into Prose. Much value is also attached to Abridging and Summarizing; and this might be coupled with the opposite practice of filing up and expanding brief sketches.
Preface to “English Composition and Rhetoric
Applying that to practice mapping, books or articles give us good material. What’s the equivalent of “Poetry” and “Prose” in Wardley mapping? One way to look at it is this: “Poetry” corresponds to the drawn map while “Prose” corresponds to the stories or narratives or explanations we tell that are based on those maps. These stories/explanations, being more acceptable, find themselves in public documents and reports.
Adapting Alexander Bain quote to Wardley Mapping would look like this:
The creation of Wardley Maps involves the burden of finding matter as well as language;… For a mapping exercise, the matter should in some way or other be supplied, and the pupil disciplined in giving it expressions. . . Another exercise is the conversion of Wardley Maps into Stories (explanations/narratives) and of converting Stories (explanations/narratives) into Wardley Maps. Much value is attached to Abriding and Summarizing a complex map into a submap; and this might be coupled with the opposite practice of filling up and expanding single components into their own maps.
What do the examples look like? One example of moving between Maps and Stories is MXNet on AWS. At MapCamp 2017, Adrian Cockcroft walked us through this Wardley Map.
I found these AWS MXNet announcements (made in 2017) that correspond to the components in the map with the numbers, (7) (5) (3) (1) respectively:
Secondly, books give us a context we can share. We can use that as a basis of mapping together.
When I map with others from another industry, we spend time learning the basic terms and concepts of each industry so that we’re able follow the map we’re creating.
Reading a book (article/video/etc) that explains an industry is like a quick starter before the main course.
Books as a safeguard against NDAs
I like to map what I do. Publishing it is another story. I’ve written many a post about Wardley Maps within our company’s firewall. What I liked about it the most was to write uninhibited. I know that those who read it, even if not working in my department, will have the same company context as I do. They can orient themselves around the terms we use, how we work, what I mean.
Writing in such an unrestrained way externally does not work as well for me. Like you, I’d like to honour what’s confidential. How then shall I write about this interesting topic ‘X’ when it can be perceived that I’m revealing something I shouldn’t, that I’m breaking the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?
Books to the rescue! There’s a book for each topic. When I find those that are close to what I do, to what I find interesting, I’ll map it out. Sometimes, I’ll write about them. But I’ll not map every book nor each section of a book.
Is there a map for that?
Funny you should ask. Yes, there is a map for that – see step 4 and 3 from Cognitive Hierarchy are applicable.
I prefer books because, as a medium, they are a more evolved, even though the ideas they contain span across the evolution X-axis.
Others doing it
Others do it too.
I love the videos that Marcus Guest creates. Those prefixed “Second Opinion on . . .” walk through a Wardley Map based on articles from the Financial Times.
I used onlinewardleymaps.com to create and walk through the maps for my talk at Map Camp 2021. The theme was “Challenging Orthodoxy.” As for the tool, I took inspiration from Adrian Cockcroft, who used it at last years Map Camp.
Some have asked for these maps. Here are the links – I presented them in this sequence:
In this post, I’ll go through the second loop of the Strategy Cycle covered in Gerstner’s book (Who Says Elephants can’t dance), chapters 8 to 10 with Wardley Maps. He gives us an overview:
I turned my attention to three areas that, if not fundamentally changed, would disable any hope of a strategy built around integration: organization, brand image, and compensation.”
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 83)
To recap what we’ve covered so far:
In Part 2, we saw the background and context, in which Gerstner’s actions made sense. Out of the pressing needs of technology and serving all kinds of Customers over the world grew IBM’s organisational structure. IBM’s dominant position led to inertia, which affected Doctrine. The result was a decline almost to the point of bankruptcy.
In Part 1, we went through the first loop around the Strategy Cycle with wardley maps. It included the initiatives undertaken and how they improved Doctrine. Inertia was still present, but overcome mostly through the “Moral Imperative.”
New Purpose: Restoring Growth
The maps below build upon those from previous posts. The map below is a small extract from Figure 5 in Part 1 of this series. It’s the start of the second loop around the Strategy Cycle.
After the first set of initiatives that served to “stop the bleeding,” Gerstner’s next purpose was to restore the company’s growth.
For that, he needs to integrate IBM to work as a unified whole. The pieces to integrate (the organisational structure) and how it came about were covered in Part 2, but Figure 2 shows a simplified version.
In part 1, we saw how Gerstner’s initiatives had improved Doctrine. Carrying out his scope of “integrating IBM” improved Doctrine even more in this context.
Before we get to see what problems integrating IBM would solve, let’s map out what Gerstner had in mind.
What Gerstner had in mind
To see what Gerstner had in mind, it helps to have more maps as a backdrop. The usual disclaimer applies: where these components are placed is my “feel” of IBM in the 1990s. I haven’t mapped the industry at the same time period.
First, a map of a couple of basic business functions (“buying” and “marketing” ) that are relevant for this post.
On the map are the following: the effect of marketing (#1) on the Customer – I mean, you can’t “buy” (#2) what you don’t know about (one of the goals of marketing #3) nor what’s being sold.
Yet, from the perspective of the organisation, the other two components depend on marketing.
Using the broadest definition, sales is about fulfilling the demand that marketing generates. When it’s done well, marketing is a multi-disciplinary function that involves market segmentation and analysis of both competitors and customer preferences, corporate and product brand management, advertising, and direct mail. That’s only a partial listing.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 89)
One point to note is that I’ve “simplified/abstracted” these components to mean the processes, tools, and infrastructure of “buying” and “marketing.” I’ve left out their “job-to-be-done.” Seen through the lens of Social Practice Theory (SPT), I’m talking about the “material” while leaving out “meaning” and “competence.” Chris McDermott and Marc Burgauer wrote about SPT and Wardley Maps (see Mapping Meaning and Mapping Maturity)
So the “meaning” of marketing, selling, buying are “universally accepted,” that is, in “Stage 4” of evolution. Yet the “material” (components) on my map are in Stage 2. Why? We’ll get into it later when we look at the Customer Journey.
At IBM, there was no explicit marketing function.
IBM was built on technology and sales. And, in IBM at that time, the term “marketing” really meant “sales”… When I arrived at IBM, marketing was not considered a distinct professional discipline, and it was not being managed as such.”
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 89)
So IBM’s map would look like this:
Writing about his experience as an “enterprise customer” buying from IBM, Gerstner tells us,
I was always flabbergasted to find that when we [American Express] arrived in a new country (Malaysia or Singapore or Spain), we had to reestablish our credentials with the local IBM management. The fact that American Express was one of IBM’s largest customers in the United States bore no value to IBM management in other countries. We had to start over each time, and their focus was on their own country profit and loss, not on any sense of IBM’s global relationship with American Express. The same was true of products. Products used in the United States were not necessarily available in other parts of the world. It was enormously frustrating, but IBM seemed to be incapable of taking a global customer.”
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 85)
One way to visualise the above is through a Customer Journey. Let’s take that of a single Customer that’s in a single geographical location and using product A.
Let’s add the same Customer, but this time in another geography (represented by orange).
I’ll not map the “Product Division” part, but can leave this brief paragraph from Gerstner:
The same was true of products. Products used in the United States were not necessarily available in other parts of the world. It was enormously frustrating, but IBM seemed to be incapable of taking a global customer view or a technology view driven by customer requirements.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 85)
The first thing that jumps out is – that’s a lot of lines between the Customer’s need and the organisation’s structure.
The next is that two lines are missing: one between the Geographical Units; another between the Product Divisions.
The bigger an organisation becomes, the more danger of losing cohesion. Couple that to an extreme version of “Respect for the Individual,” and you have a result that I’ll let Gerstner express:
“I think the aspect of IBM’s culture that was the most remarkable to me was the ability of any individual, any team, any division to block agreement or action. “Respect for the individual” had devolved into a pervasive institutional support system for nonaction. . . . . . Think about it: At any level of the organization, even after a cross-unit team had labored mightily to come up with a companywide solution, if some executive felt that solution diminished his or her portion of the company—or ran counter to the executive’s view of the world—a nonconcur spanner was thrown into the works. The net effect was unconscionable delay in reaching key decisions; duplicate effort, as units continued to focus on their pet approaches; and bitter personal contention, as hours and hours of good work would be jeopardized or scuttled by lone dissenters. Years later I heard it described as a culture in which no one would say yes, but everyone could say no.”
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 192-193)
It’s like the combination of the worst bits that John Boyd pointed out in his “Patterns of Conflict,”
if you give everyone freedom to do what they want, there’s risk of no cohesion. On the other hand, if you restrict them (using top-down methods) then you destroy their drive to take initiative.
John Boyd, Patterns of Conflict
From the Gerstner’s descriptions, there was neither cohesion for the whole nor initiative at the individual level. Boyd mentions a way out of this, and that’s for everyone “to have a common outlook.”
This is what Doctrine is supposed to do. Simon Wardley always reminds us again and again not to implement PST (Pioneer-Settler-Planner) without getting Doctrine right. Otherwise, the above quote is what I imagine would happen.
I haven’t made a map for marketing. Nevertheless, Gerstner gives us a picture:
IBM won numerous awards in the 1980s for its ingenious Charlie Chaplin commercials, which had introduced the IBM personal computer. By the early 1990s, however, the company’s advertising system had fallen into a state of chaos. As part of the drive toward decentralization, it seemed that every product manager in just about every part of the company was hiring his or her own advertising agency. IBM had more than seventy ad agencies in 1993, each working on its own, without any central coordination. It was like seventy tiny trumpets all tooting simultaneously for attention. A single issue of an industry trade magazine could have up to eighteen different IBM ads, with eighteen different designs, messages, and even logos.”
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 88)
Overview of the decisions and action
Let’s combine pieces of the different maps to get an overview of Gerstner’s actions.
First is the map of the scope and the corresponding decisions taken.
Next is the map where the Customer, buying, selling is involved.
Next is the map that combines the decisions with the actions. Having made the decisions, carrying out these three actions took place at the same time.
Reorganise the company around Global Industry groups that focus on the Customer.
Centralise Marketing to preserve the brand image.
Align incentives to the new Strategy by overhauling the Compensation scheme.
With this overview, we’re ready to look into more details.
Integrate IBM: Reorg around Customers
Gerstner tells us
It was a painful and sometimes tumultuous process to get the organization to embrace this new direction, but by mid-1995 we were ready to implement it. We broke our customer base into twelve groups: eleven industries (such as banking, government, insurance, distribution, and manufacturing) and a final category covering small- and medium-size businesses. We assigned all of the accounts to these industry groups and announced that the groups would be in charge of all budgets and personnel. The response from the country managers was swift and predictable: “It will never work.” And: “You will destroy the company!” . . . Although we implemented the new industry structure in mid-1995, it was never fully accepted until at least three years later. Regional heads clung to the old system, sometimes out of mutiny, but more often out of tradition. We needed to do a massive shift of resources, systems, and processes to make the new system work. Building an organizational plan was easy. It took three years of hard work to implement the plan, and implement it well.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 86-87)
The corresponding map would look like this
Improved Customer Journey
The Customers interact with one group/unit regardless of where they do business. They go through the journey once. After the relationship is established, they don’t have to go through it again. From IBM’s perspective, the geographical units respond to the needs of the Industry Groups and the product divisions build products is driven to fulfill Customer needs.
Integrate IBM: Centralise Marketing
As for creating the marketing department and a consistent message, I’ll not map the details but show the corresponding component.
Gerstner describes the details:
In June 1993 I hired Abby Kohnstamm as the head of Corporate Marketing for IBM. . . There had never been a true head of marketing in IBM. Few people in the business units understood or accepted her role, and at first they tried to ignore her. IBM was built on technology and sales. . . . Abby knew she had to end the dissonance. We got there in stages because, while you can force anything down the throat of an organization, if people don’t buy into the logic, the change won’t stick. Stage one was weaning IBM executives off the luxury of having their own advertising budgets, their personal agencies, and the discretion to order up an ad anytime they wanted to do so. . . . Abby’s job was to get control of the spending and the messages. . . . Abby decided to consolidate all of IBM’s advertising relationships into a single agency—not just in the United States, but around the world. At the time, it was the largest advertising consolidation in history. . . . Abby had my complete support, but others were a tougher sell, both inside and outside the company. Many of the product and geographic units adopted a “this too shall pass” approach—up until the time when we centralized most of the advertising spending and the media buying and went to global contracts. The ad community itself was in absolute shock. Not only was this not done in the advertising world—but by stodgy, trouble-plagued IBM? (pp. 88-91)
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 88-91)
Integrate IBM: Overhaul compensation model
When it comes to compensation, three things stood out to me.
One was this observation from Gerstner.
I’ve described in detail the changes made to the stock-option program principally because I wanted to underscore my belief that you can’t transform institutions if the incentive programs are not aligned with your new strategy. (p. 100).
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 100)
The second was that these incentives/compensation model contributed to keep everyone thinking as “one cohesive unit.” Recall what Boyd mentioned about cohesion.
The third was that the new compensation model based on external benchmarks contributed to the “outside-in” mindset that Gerstner was after. He writes,
“I needed my new colleagues to accept the fact that external forces—the stock market, competition, the changing demands of customers—had to drive our agenda, not the wishes and whims of our team.” (pp. 96-97)
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 96-97)
The map would look like this:
Speaking on differentiation, Gerstner writes,
Differentiate our overall pay based on the marketplace; differentiate our increases based on individual performance and pay in the marketplace; differentiate our bonuses based on business performance and individual contributions; and differentiate our stock-option awards based on the critical skills of the individual and our risk of loss to competition.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 95)
What’s striking to me is how he saw compensation that’s based on the “outside-in” goal he wanted, which acted also as a guard against losing people.
Bringing all those components and actions together gives us the map below.
If I was to simplify this map, it would look like a map of the basic business functions overlaid with Gerstner’s actions.
Looking at this from another perspective, the activities/practices/knowledge that Gerstner brought in were more evolved in the industry than internally. In so doing, he embodied the mantra of the initial steps in using Wardley Mapping, which is to “stop self-harm.”
This post is the result of having taken up Ben Mosior‘s offer to help unblock writer’s block. Looks like it worked 😉
We ended up talking about Wardley Mapping, the Theory of Constraints, and the relation between them.
Now after we’ve created our Wardley Map, the first question we usually ask about a component is, “Why are we using a custom-built version instead of a commodity version?” Wardley Maps enable us to see what’s there, reduce duplication, and, as this question points out, reduce our bias. But the Theory of Constraints recommends that we should ask a different question first . . .
Where is the constraint?
As Wardley’s doctrine points out, making use of commodities is a common-sense thing to do, but if all it accomplishes is making our non-constraints very efficient, we’ll be in twice the trouble if we fail to touch our bottleneck! After all, the bottleneck(s) determine the throughput of the whole system.
The Theory of Constraints describes five focusing steps:
Identify the constraint
Exploit the constraint
Subordinate everything else to the constraint
Elevate the constraint
If our constraint is that thing we’re custom-building, then if we push it to Stage 4 of Evolution (Commodity or Utility) phase, it’s like working through steps two through four.
The Theory of Constraints teaches us that it’s actually not a problem for non-constraints to be idle or for them to be custom built, but if we optimize our non-constraints by indiscriminately reducing bias, the system performance will actually get worse.
From this, a couple of interesting questions come up, which we’ll get into another time; such as, “is it the case that Wardley Mapping doesn’t work here? How does this whole evolution thing apply?”
In general, we’re looking in our map for something that slows us down. The first idea is that if we consider not the evolutionary flow, but the process flow, we can find candidates in the things that aren’t happening as fast as we’d like. A second idea is to find something that slows us down and is also hard to change, perhaps due to inertia.
Let’s say we have 20 orders to fill every hour. We need water, we need a kettle, and so on. But we find that our kettle can only serve maybe 10 cups an hour, so our production cannot keep up with the remaining 10 orders. We won’t be able to fulfill our obligation to our customers in the timeframe we have.
And then if it’s a kettle left by my great-ancestor, and we’re running a more authentic tea shop that has a lot of history, then getting rid of the kettle is going to be problematic. It has sentimental value and may be part of our branding. And so it’s hard to change, but we still have the problem of meeting our obligation of serving 20 cups.
Identify the constraint
Once we’ve identified that the kettle is the constraint, and once we’ve realized that it’s very hard to change, we can run through the rest of the five focusing steps.
Exploit the constraint
To exploit the constraint, we can make sure the kettle is in use continually and is never starved of work. One idea could be: Never take the kettle off from the stove except to pour the tea into a cup. There’d a “special” hose/pipe whose sole job is to refill the kettle.
Subordinate everything else to the constraint
To subordinate the rest of the system to that constraint, we might have everyone sit in a small tea room that conveniently has about 10 chairs. In addition, the dress code can be traditional attire that’s worn to serve this kind of tea, much like the attire of those serving during Octoberfest in Munich.
Elevate the constraint
To elevate the constraint is to increase our capacity, i.e., the number of tea cups we can serve in an hour. For this, having another larger kettle that doesn’t have sentimental value is helpful. This larger kettle wouldn’t be part of the brand story like my ancestor’s kettle, but it could help us meet our obligation of 20 orders.
Questions to explore
How does Evolution fit into the picture?
Would you apply Doctrine to Constraints and Non-Constraints in the same way?
TLDR; we talk about the business model canvas, how the Income Statements corresponds to parts of it, how both correspond to and can be shown on a Wardley Map. Based on Dr. Alistair Moore’s presentation.
Lots of work goes into making model that help us understand how, and why things work.
The questions become: * What’s the relation between BMC, Income Statements, and Wardley Maps * Can I move easily between them? Can I show them all using one model * Why is there a need for moving across models or having a somewhat more general ones that incorporates the others?
On Models – just a little
As for the last question, the more models we have to represent our multifaceted reality, the better; the more visual, the better. All these tools have their place and help solve a problem. At the heart of them is that they give us a language with which we can communicate with one another.
The downside is that each comes with each language that we need to learn: income statements are the financial language; Project Management has its own; Delivery has its own; and so do Contracts Management, HR, Purchasing, Design, Marketing, Security, etc
Wouldn’t it be great, if there was one we could use that gives us a common language with which to communicate with all parts of an organization? We’ll return to this later on.
Business Model Canvas and Income Statements
Moving between the BMC (Business Model Canvas), Income Statements, and Wardley Maps and vice-versa was part of a talk that Dr. Alistair Moore gave at Tensor Flow London 2018 – with the slides on Slideshare. Since he’s allowed me to use his images, I’ll post the most striking one here in the hope that they might pique your interest enough to seriously consider going further with Wardley Mapping.
Using the example in Simon Wardley’s online book Chapter 12 would suffice. Figure 163 even has a Business Model Canvas corresponding to the business scenario. I’m reproducing it here to avoid jumps between websites.
The BMC does not leave out those who feel at home reading Income Statements, such as those in 8-Q or 10-K fillings.
If we rotate the BMC anti-clockwise by 90 degrees, we can see how the “Revenue and Cost Structures” match the Income Statements from the 2019 10-K statement.
From Income Statement and BMC to Wardley Maps
To represent the Revenue and Cost Structure on a Wardley Map, we’d need to start with Users and User Needs because this is the anchor on a Wardley Map. The User and User Need translate to, in BMC terminology, to the “Customer Segments” and the “Value Proposition.” Having found that, we add an MVP or a minimum path through which Value will be delivered to the Customers.
Read the map from top to bottom: I’ll pull in the relevant quotes from the analysis of the scenario from Chapter 13.
1. The Client are operators of large Date Centres.
2. Their need is efficiency analysis. Because the market (according to the scenario) is reasonably-sized (about 301 Million Pounds), this component would be in the “product” phase of Evolution.
3. “… I’m aware that Phoenix has some form of system logic based upon best practice use of the sensors.
4. “I’ve marked on the sensor logic as a practice (i.e. it seems to be connected with how we use sensors) and
5. the environmental data as data.”
These 5 steps form a chain of value, which is our MVP. With the diagram above, the BMC and Wardley Map are in sync.
What the BMC cannot show us is how evolved or how big the market is for an activity or a component. It’s no accident that the “System Logic” in step 3 is close to the “Commodity” phase of evolution, i.e., the market is mature. Yet, such information is hard to show within the “Cost Structure” of the BMC, never mind on the Income Statement. Knowing whether the market in which you, and all your dependencies operate, is mature or just forming or growing impacts the decisions you make as a business.
A quick reminder that if this is your first time seeing a Wardley Map, I’ll recommend a few resources at the end on getting started.
Revenue and Costs as Financial Flows in Wardley Maps
Now that we have our BMC and Map, we can go further: the Revenue and Costs in a Wardley Map are modelled as flows through the Chain.
The diagram below (also from Dr. Moore) shows the different flows of capital: when you move downwards, you pay something. When value moves upwards, you earn something.
We’ll keep the diagram simple, but also add how we’ll sell to the Client and how they’ll pay us.
Let’s go through the steps. But first these coloured flows have meaning: * Orange is our MVP. * Blue is Cost for us to deliver “Efficiency Analysis”. * Green is the Revenue to us. On the map from the Client’s perspective, this would be a Cost to them (they’d use “Blue” to represent that).
Now the steps: 1. It always starts with the Client and their Needs.
2. For the Clients to get the “efficiency analysis,” they’d go through their Resellers. The Resellers might add a margin when selling to the Client. They’ll likely want us to pay them so that they continue selling our “Efficiency Analysis” product. This is also ok – cost of doing business – hence represented in “Blue”
3. For the Resellers to have something to sell means that we sold it to them. And that’s usually through a Sales team, thus “Blue”
4. The Clients gets the Analysis. They’re happy. They want to pay.
5. For the Client to pay us, we need to bill them. So, we’ll have a billing component. This is part of our Costs – hence “Blue”.
6. The Clients pays. Now, money comes in, which makes up our Revenue; hence it’s “Green”.
7. This underlying component is of interest to us. But the Client might not be interested in it. Or what’s underneath. As long as they have their “Efficiency Analysis,” that might be enough. But to us, it’s important because without it, we’ll not be able to deliver value to our Client.
Wardley Maps as a common language
Now that we can switch back and forth, what’s next? We’ve seen how you can show more information on a Wardley Map than a BMC because of the Y-axis – the stages of evolution that any Product or Service or Idea passes through.
With these 2 as a basis, Wardley Maps allow us to model a System or an organization in such a visual way that it’s easier for others to understand, which helps us with communicating just as geographical maps do.The more we understand maps, the more we can represent on them. We can show Practices, Data, Knowledge on these maps. We’ve seen how to visualize movement of capital as flows.
Once the above map is understood, it also works as a Management Tool.
It’s with difficulty (or somewhat impossible) to depict such a huge amount of information on one graphic. Yet, this graphic, this map enables everyone from the different departments to communicate with each other using a common language. Making decisions of where to focus on or which direction to take are open to all to participate in.
I’ll leave you with what Yodit Stanton left us with at MapCamp 2019
I asked myself several times why I had to know this or why I felt it important. After all, it’s ended up being long enough that I’ve had to separate it out into its own post. Well, it dawned on me that knowing about it would form the “Landscape” that Gerstner would be considering. And “Landscape” is (if I can insert a reminder here) the second important part of the Strategy Cycle. Afterwards comes “Climate,” “Doctrine,” “Leadership.”
A disclaimer applies: these maps are are my interpretations, which might be right, or wrong, or in between, but nonetheless useful. So Caveat Emptor ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Digressions – slightly useful to some
First, I often recommend (when asked) to practice mapping from articles (example) , books, tweets (example), talks, even “vision” or “future” statements from organisations (example).
In addition to these being in a more evolved state of Evolution (Cognitive Hierarchy post), they already contain the material that we need to “only” express. I apply Alexander Bain‘s principle of learning composition in writing to Wardley Mapping (see square brackets):
The Composition of Themes involves the burden of finding matter as well as language; . . . For an English [mapping] exercise, the matter should in some way or other be supplied, and the pupil disciplined in giving it expression [mapping it out]. . . Another exercise is the conversion of Poetry into Prose [from maps, create “stories”] [and vice-versa – from “stories,” create maps].
Alexander Bain’s “English Composition and Rhetoric”. Page vii in the Preface.
Through this, we build this up as a habit, which is manifested when we have to map but are constrained regarding time. Speaking of forming habits, A. B. Simpson writes:
Every habit grows out of a succession of little acts. No habit comes full-grown into your life; it grows like the roots of a tree. . .The stenographer takes down words as fast as they are spoken. At first it is clumsy and slow work; but at length it becomes a habit, and now the stenographer does not have to stop and think how to make the characters; they come as naturally as words come to the lips.
Simpson, A. B.. “The Christ Life.” Location 517. Kindle Edition.
Wouldn’t it be great if mapping with its symbols, stages of evolution and their characteristics, the sources of capital, doctrine, climatic patterns, gameplay would come naturally to us as words come to lips. The downside is what Ian Walker coined as the “Wardley Curse” 😂
Secondly is how long it should take to do these maps. That also depends on your context/situation. Sometimes we use “maps” as a term to mean the Value Vhain + Evolution, which represents only in the “Landscape” part of the Strategy Cycle. Other time we use the same term to mean the entire Strategy Cycle.
Even if we limited the term to mean the Value Chain + Evolution, the time it would take to draw a map of a tweet is likely to be smaller than that of multinational organisation or a nation state.
Ideally, the time required would be proportional to the scope and goal in mind.
Building on previous post
Before I continue, I’d like to point out one missing pieces from the previous post – pieces that I only found out through Holger and the attendees of the Wardley Mapping Meetup in Köln.
Dealing with Inertia
Some maps of the previous post contain inertia barriers but I didn’t go into how he dealt with them. The “Messaging” component helped overcome some inertia, but to my mind, the biggest help to overcome came from the “Moral Imperative” and the emergency context. Because IBM was seen as a national treasure that had to be rescued, many employees willingly gave up their jobs, others volunteered to come out of their retirement to help, still others worked much harder. One gets a glimpse of this not only through the “Dedication” page, but also from sentences sprinkled throughout the book.
Maps that are bridges on what’s to come
To recap the previous article, as the underlying components are becoming more certain, Gerstner prepares to make another loop around the Strategy Cycle – shown in the map below: that the new “purpose,” “scope,” and “moral imperative” build on the corresponding components. The maps in this section link the previous article with what’s to come, to the next loop around the Strategy Cycle.
The map below is for completeness only. After the explanation is the next two sentences, I’ll dispense with the horizontal dotted arrow lines. Now, because the new map (#3) is built upon (#2) underlying components that are still evolving (remember that these initiatives took about 8 to 10 years), I’m using the dotted red arrow (#1) in the map to represent this. Naturally it makes the map appear a bit cluttered.
Removing the previous components simplifies the map below – see below – and adds the knowledge and practices that Gerstner obtained from his previous experiences at McKinsey.
Background to Gerstner’s second loop – the S/360
Besides what Gerstner had done “to stop the bleeding,” making other loops required knowing what was essential at IBM. He tells us:
Despite the fact that IBM, then and now [circa. 1993], was regarded as a complex company with thousands of products, I’d argue that, until the mid-1980s, IBM was a one-product company—a mainframe company—with an array of multibillion-dollar businesses attached to that single franchise.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 116-117)
Which is why I followed along, and hope that you will too.
S/360 – its Background
What follows is an attempt to show this on Wardley Maps while taking account of the historical background, which chapter 12 furnishes us with. I’ll also take selected paragraphs from Wikipedia to help with these maps.
The map shows what I imagine to be the Pre-S/360 phase – most components at in the “Custom” phase. Gerstner writes:
Before System/360, IBM was just one of several companies that made and sold computers. Each company’s computers were based on proprietary technology. They didn’t work with any other computers, even from the same company, and each computer system had its own peripheral devices like printers and tape drives. This meant that if customers outgrew a computer or wanted the advantages of some new technology, they had to discard all of their hardware and software investments and start over
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 115)
I interpreted that to mean that most components are going to be in the “Custom” phase of evolution.
From the article in Wikipedia, the S/360 hardware was made from integrated circuits.
The next three maps show components that were being built ontop of S/360. First was the Operating System, then Middleware.
Then the Middleware technologies are listed below.
Applications and Peripherals are now (circa. After 1965) being built on top of the new S/360.
The components “Application” and “Peripherals” are being built on top of what the S/360 made possible. Gerstner continues,
Software developed for one processor would run on any System/360 processor. All peripheral devices—printers, tape drives, punch-card readers—would work with any processor in the family. For customers, System/360 would be a godsend. For IBM’s competitors, it would be a knockout blow
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp. 115)
I’ll come back to the competition later.
What’s noteworthy in the map below is the dying out of the previous Value Chain (shown in Gray) and the creation of new value chains that became the base for IBM’s dominance for two to three decades (circa. 1965 – 1985).
Because of the new S/360, there was the building up of new capabilities and the Co-evolution of Practices, such as the Sales force having to change. Gerstner reminds us:
System/360 required a very knowledgeable, consultative sales force that could help customers transform important business processes like accounting, payroll, and inventory management. Traditional order takers couldn’t do this job.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 116)
To show this, I’ll make the S/360 into a submap
Then the new areas of growth (circa. after 1965) are occurring. Details of the 3 new Submaps (Services, Post-S/360 Applications, and Middleware) are on Page 154 of the book.
S/360 – its Success
Building on the S/360 led to IBM’s dominance. I’ve taken ideas from the pdf, “The Future is predictable” together with Simon Wardley’s posts. For this, I’ll add more Users to the Map, and also Porter’s 5 forces.
With tweaks (that are specific to IBM and enclosed in square brackets), these sentences from Simon Wardley’s post (after Figure 247 in Chapter 19) are applicable.
From the map, we start with the industry [IBM] itself. It has a need for investors (i.e. shareholders) which involves a bidirectional flow of capital e.g. investment from the shareholders and return on investment to the shareholders. I’ve simply marked this as a “$” to represent a financial flow in both directions. . . . In order to pay for the return on investment (whether dividends or share buybacks) [IBM] needs to do something that makes a profit. This involves [providing Computing] to Customers.
Simon Wardley; “Wadley Maps” on Medium, Chapter 19, Figure 247
Represent competition with Porter
To represent the competitive landscape, I’ll use Michael Porter’s 5 Forces.
Recap on Porter’s 5 Forces on a Wardley Map
Simon Wardley applies Porter’s 5 forces in Chapter 17 (section titled “On Porter” and Figure 222) onto a Map. The whole section is worth reading. I’ll quote the relevant parts here & also use the same figure:
For those unfamiliar with Porter’s five forces, these are rivalry within the industry, threats of new entrants, threats of substitution and the bargaining power of suppliers vs consumers. In this section we’re going to examine these five forces through the lens of the peace, war and wonder cycle (see chapter 9).
Simon Wardley; “Wadleymaps” series on Medium, Chapter 17
In the time of Wonder:
In the time of wonder, it is a battle to become established. The field is not yet developed and there are no “new entrants” as there are no established figures to be “new entrants” against. Everything is new, uncertain and uncharted. It is the wild west, ‘ere be dragons and the home of split infinitives. The consumers hold the power and it is they who decide whether this industry will succeed or not despite their initial inability to know whether they need it.
Simon Wardley; “Wadleymaps” series on Medium, Chapter 17
In the time of Peace:
In the time of peace, there is a constant tug of war between supplier and consumer power over the products produced. The developing giants are normally well protected from new entrants in a game of relative competition. The exception is the occasional threat of substitution. It is this substitution by a different product which tends to be the dominant factor.
Simon Wardley; “Wadleymaps” series on Medium, Chapter 17
In the time of War:
In the time of war, new entrants providing a more industrialised form of the act threaten the existing giants that are stuck behind inertia barriers. It becomes a fight for survival for these giants and they are often poorly equipped. It is not a case of a product becoming substituted by another product but instead an entire industry being changed to more industrialised forms. It is often assumed that the shift towards utility provision means centralisation but this is not the case
Since we’re talking about IBM during the period of 1960s to early 1990s, I don’t expect to have components in the time of “War.” You can read more about these forces from Simon Wardley, and the forces themselves are well explained by Porter himself (see HBR article from 1979).
S/360 – with Porter’s 5 Forces
Let’s apply Porter’s forces to our map. How would it look like ?
A few basic notes: Firstly, every double-circle represents a Barrier to Entry. Secondly, since the existing components were submaps, enclosing them within the symbols representing Porter’s forces was more convenient than attaching the forces to the components themselves. Finally, all these components have an arrow pointing left, meaning that the suppliers, in this case, IBM had a lot of bargaining power, which is characterised by Porter as:
he power of each important supplier … depends on a number of characteristics of its market situation and on the relative importance of its sales … to the industry compared with its overall business.
(1) and (2) The Services and Sales components can best be seen in Gerstner’s description:
Even the sales force had to change. System/360 required a very knowledgeable, consultative sales force that could help customers transform important business processes like accounting, payroll, and inventory management. Traditional order takers couldn’t do this job. The company had to create a product service and maintenance capability and a customer-training and educational arm
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 116)
Hence the reason I’m representing these barriers as K/F/S — i.e., “Knowledge” that the Sales forces requires; “Financial” barrier required to train up such a workforce and setup the Services capability; lastly “Social” because that’s the backbone of Sales and Services (in my optinion). On the other hand, since the “Services” component is “new,” it would be fighting to be established. My inference is that because it’s setup from the company that provides the underlying component, it’s perceived as more credible in the eyes of Customers.
(3) The component, “Post S/360 Application,” was important but not that high a barrier to entry. Because of which, suppliers could be substituted. This in turn increased the Customers’ bargaining power.
(4) and (5) were differentiators and therefore barriers too. Gerstner writes:
How did we end up in 1990 with the world’s largest software business? Because there would be no usable System/360 without an operating system, or a database, or a transaction processing system, or software tools and programming languages
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 116)
These crucial components (1), (2), (4), and (5) don’t have arrows pointing right, which means that the Customers’ bargaining power was limited. The S/360 and most of the components built on top of it were not undifferentiated to such an extent that Customers could always find alternative suppliers. Furthermore, Customers also loved what the S/360 made possible: more powerful, reliable, and less costly machines that allow for interoperable software applications. The result was that
IBM’s share of the computing market skyrocketed. Competitors reeled; many disappeared. The company’s revenues grew at a compound growth rate of 14 percent from 1965 to 1985. Gross profit margins were amazing—consistently around 60 percent. Market share exceeded an astounding 30 percent, which eventually invited antitrust scrutiny.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 117)
More representations on our Wardley Maps
We’ll add more components to our maps.
Effects of Doctrine on Success and vice-versa
IBM’s leadership position in the marketplace, and even leading up to it, had created a a certain kind of culture/belief system/doctrine that was embodied by its visionary founder, Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Speaking of Watson, Gerstner writes:
Watson’s experience as a self-made man engendered a culture of respect, hard work, and ethical behavior. IBM was the leader in diversity for decades, well before governments even spoke of the need to seek equality in employment, advancement, and compensation. A sense of integrity, of responsibility, flows through the veins of IBM in a way I’ve never seen in any other company. IBM people are committed—committed to their company, and committed to what their company does. . . He [Watson, Sr.] summarized them in what he termed the Basic Beliefs: Excellence in everything we do. Superior customer service. Respect for the individual.
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (pp 183-184)
Gerstner remarkably adds:
Institutionalizing these beliefs wasn’t just a matter of displaying signs in every office (although they were everywhere). The Beliefs were reflected in the compensation and benefits systems, in the management schools, in employee educational and training programs, in marketing, and in customer support. It was the doctrine of the company—and very few companies have extended a doctrine so pervasively
Gerstner Jr., Louis V. (p. 184)
These quotes are from Part 3 of the book (from chapter 20 to 23). Attempting to map out how he dealt with culture (as defined, and used, by Gerstner) is out of scope for these series that I’m doing. Those interested can read those enlightening chapters.
Adding these to the map would look like below: the first map shows what’s to be made into a submap:
After making the value chain into a submap, we can add more components that build on it.
Position in the marketplace the basis of Compensation
Building on the submap, we see that the market for computing is growing, and IBM has the largest chunk (1), thanks for its offerings (number #2). These are made possible through the employees (number #3) who are compensated (point #4) according to some compensation model. Because being compensated for your work/labour is universally accepted, it’s in the Stage 4 of Evolution.
As for the map below, it highlights components that affect Doctrine, i.e., the company’s position in the marketplace and its employees.
Which gives us the table below:
Factors leading to an org structure
Because of its position in the marketplace, IBM ended up serving many types of Customers. As it served more customers, so did it increased its marketshare.
The map below adds another factor that led to the “Product Divisions” – which was to cope with the rate of technological change and the corresponding threats and opportunities.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I didn’t expect the background to be this long. Morever, there are a few things I’d wanted to add but I’m restricted by time and probably your attention 😉 – things such as the effect on Doctrine that came from being in such a dominant market position for decades; or the effect on Doctrine that crept in through the antitust suit that lasted for abou 13 years; or the partial blindness to the competition; etc.
For those interested in Culture, I’d recommend his observations in chapters 20 to 22, on its establishment, how it degrades, how it can be changed, and the sheer difficulty of maintaining it. Then compare his approach with those from today’s well-known companies.
As for those interested in Strategy, I’d recommend chapters 23 to 25 where he discusses what Strategy is not (e.g. vision statements), what it is, and it’s importance.
Ofcourse, I never would’ve been able to make any sense of it without Wardley Maps – both the work and the people. There’s always more to learn, and I’m looking forward to it. Notwithstanding, we have a decent base.
As for writing these posts, my current bottleneck is drawing these map. But Sertillanges’ remark keeps nudging me on:
The reward of a work is to have produced it; the reward of effort is to have grown by it.
I loved these series, especially the fifth one, the Project List Mindsweep, because it broad enough to cover both home and professional life, and fine enough to manage “actionable systems” (Todo lists) and non-actionable systems (where we store reference information), as read in:
the Project List was the lynchpin of not only P.A.R.A. and your broader PKM (personal knowledge management) system, but to your entire working life. . . your Project List is transmitting information between your actionable and non-actionable systems
The article and the corresponding Evernote templates were a great help. Yet, when it came to the practice, I found myself overwhelmed: there are at least 2 Evernote notes to keep open: the article itself and a copy of the template – this is where I’ll list the project titles, and if necessary, the descriptions. I followed the article, step by step, while updating the template. For each step in the article, I had to copy the project title into the relevant section in the Template, and then modify the project title a little bit, either to write the desired outcome or to review them. I couldn’t sustain that repetition after 3 projects.
Turning to Excel Spreadsheets
This prompted me to find a different way of dealing with these. I naturally turned to Excel, which was sufficient to start with. Each worksheet corresponded to a “trigger.”
In the worksheet, each project with its title and description was a row; and each step, a column. Following the steps for all my projects became easier. But I have project ideas almost every week (when I’m commuting, in discussions with others, etc). Project ideas also come when doing the weekly/monthly reviews. Adding these to the Excel Spreadsheet was not appealing because Excel, working poorly on mobile, means I need to have a laptop to update it.
I ended up looking for a way to visualise all the projects, the steps described for Project Lists, and the P.A.R.A workflow (esp. the weekly and monthly review). Trying a visual board like Trello/Jira/GitLab seemed like the next step to me.
My 2 main requirements were to be able to have multiple boards and able to create a card/issue by sending an email. Why email? Take a look at One-Touch to Inbox Zero.
Since I already had a GitLab account, I chose to use that one instead of the other tools. GitLab offers multiple boards at the project level, group level. The bronze level subscription ($4/month) gives you multiple boards on one project. This is the one I’ve started with. For silver subscriptions, multiple boards are also available at the group level. I’ve encountered 2 limitations with GitLab:
I can’t duplicate items – it’s copy and paste (at least for now).
A board’s description is not formatted and ends up as one long line. Nevertheless, it’s still useful to have.
I’ve configured my GitLab to allow me to do this. In the GitLab project, “jg-para,” I’ve setup boards to match the Workflow. I took my brain dump Project List, combined all worksheets into one, with two columns (title, description), saved it as csv file and imported them all into GitLab.
In my day-to-day work, when I think of idea that could be a project, or from any of the “triggers,” I send an email to the relevant project in GitLab and an issue is created. Much the same way that emailing our Evernote account’s email address creates a corresponding note in Evernote.
Now I know that all project ideas are in one place. Later, maybe during one of the review cycles, I’ll still be able to follow the steps in that article to deal with these project ideas.
Because each GitLab “issue” represents a potential PARA “project”, after an issue goes ino the “Executable” board, it gets its own Notebook in Evernote. Before using GitLab, I used to create an Evernote notebook for potential projects. After the steps of “Organise” and “Reflect,” I’d delete the project notebooks that are no longer relevant.
This setup has made the PARA steps, workflows, and my projects visible. In turn, I no longer feel so overwhelmed.
Of course, none of this would be possible without these series on PARA.
I recently came across drawio, and I’ve been using it to make Wardley Maps. In addition to the online version, there’s also a desktop version that you can download and use.
It doesn’t require me to sign up for an account; it integrates well with common cloud storage options (dropbox, google drive, onedrive). As a result, I find myself using it more than I thought, especially when it comes to layers.
To see what I mean, I’ve placed the maps from the previous article on AWS S3 to try out. The output/export of drawio was a single html file that can also be saved locally and opened in the browser.
Interact with the map – using buttons
To interact with the Wardley Map mentioned above, you can use the buttons present or select which layers you’d like to see. The disadvantage of using the buttons is that pressing them out of sequence messes up what’s displayed.
Use the “fullscreen” option to view the map. This abstracts away browser-specific behaviours.
The click through the buttons at the top in this sequence:
1, 2, 3, then on 3 again (to make the selection disapper)
5a, then click “back to map”
6, then click “back to map”
Interact with the map – using layers
To select the layers, hover your mouse over the map’s page to reach the icon for layers. There, you’ll see several checkboxes that can be selected.
Using drawio online with icons/symbols for Wardley Maps
If you’d like to try out drawio online for drawing Wardley Maps, I’ve created drawio specific template, or a set of icons, that should save us time. These are are saved online and made available through a URL  because draw-io online gives us the option of specifying URLs from which to load icons/symbols – see step 3 in the image below. For a quick try, see section titled “P.S. Update on 09-April 2019“
I’m still discovering what drawio enables. E.g., with this link , the stencils are now linked to the corresponding github repo, meaning that you’ll always get the latest version of the stencils. After updating the repo, I don’t need to copy them to s3 and dropbox. Whereas you, by getting the stencils from github (if you’re using the desktop version), always have the latest version. Win-win for all. wohoo!! 😎