Wardley Maps and Open Data: a discussion

A session on Wardley Maps and value chains, led by Jonathan Kerr. Liveblogged notes – prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be improved in the coming days.

What are Wardley Maps?

A map is a thing that shows a space – where things are in relationship to each other, as well as the overall concept. All models are, by nature, simplifications. You could make an accurate map of France, but it would be unwieldy…

You can map a blue chain by mapping all the components into an end result – but you don’t need to map every single element, just the ones that are important to you.

As you move along the value chain, you increase repeatability:

  • Genesis – the original concept. (R&D)
  • Custom – you start making it (bespoke elements)
  • Product – you start making machines to make the thing. It become replicable
  • Utility – available as a service. Think of APIs, charged on per use basis.

This isn’t a linear process – things move in and out of categories. By mapping the parts of the value chain through this grid, you can spot where you have elements of your process which are costing you disproportionate amounts of money.

One attendee said he used Wardley Mapping all the time, because they find that their clients have elements of their process in Genesis and Cutsom all the time, because they think they have unique needs. But they’re usually wrong.

Wardley Mapping recycling


For example: if you want to know if you can recycle something you need to know:

  • The location
  • Recyclables by local authorities
  • Composition of objects

This creates a massive database that needs a web interface and other shiny stuff.

In this example, the products composition, and the list of recyclables per local authority is probably at the Genesis stage. But location and local authority location are products that are available.

Is there a way of getting the two missing datasets as products? If not, should we be focusing on creating them as our first business proposition? Or should we be challenging the basic idea? Should we be working on better recycling labelling instead?

It’s important to to do the mapping as a co-operative process with people with different knowledge sets. Those challenges can totally change your perspective on the problem.

Be wary of putting cost into these maps – it’s much more about quality and access.

The role of open data

Obviously, open data has the potential to start pushing a lot of information into product or utility space. Could we identify the data people are having to manually recreate repeatedly, and make more of it a viable as a service? How do we ensue the bodies responsible for this are sustainable, and their processes manageable?

Data standards have a role here in managing standardisation and customisation.

Can we really have a data strategy? Perhaps not. You should focus on the users, external factors and everything that impacts on what you are doing. Data should be part of the strategy, not the heart of it.

Jonathan wrote up the piece on his own blog.

[Session Notes]

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