Wardley map

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Wardley map
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Wardley map is a map of the structure of service or a business, mapping the components needed to serve the customer or user. It is named after Simon Wardley who claims to have designed it in 2005 [1].

According to Kim G. wardley maps can be used to better localize what parts of various value chains were commodities and should be outsourced, which should be purchased, and which should be kept in house [2].

Wardley value chain mapping (Wardley mapping) by Simon Wardley. The technique is useful for establishing different types of situational awareness. The system modeling technique discussed here is intended to provide a quick initial assessment and define the scale and scope of the system to be mapped before proceeding to more in-depth analysis using other tools [3].

Map visualization

As stated in Network Mapping Simon Wardley, one of the pre-eminent voices in mapping as it relates to IT and that two elements are fundamental for something to be considered a map: position and movement. Some visualizations, such as business process diagrams, show relationships, but not movement.

However, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, according to Wardley's definition, a map must actually move to be a map. This is, of course, impossible for the vast majority of objects we call maps today. To clarify, we'll use his example of what is a map, although it may not be thought to be one initially: a chess board. Rather than a static image of a game at a particular point in time, a chess board conveys (for those who can read it) both the current position of pieces and where each piece could potentially move in the future. Moreover, to someone very familiar with the game, a snapshot of the current board can also provide insight into where the pieces were. All with a single picture.

That is a map: position and movement.

In IT, we run afoul of considering lots of things “maps” that really aren't. One example is the venerable “ping” command. Some would go so far as to say that without the pictures, ping still “describes” a map-like environment [4].


Wardley maps can exhibit several interesting characteristics [5]:

  • they are visual and allow development of shared understanding
  • they are anchored with user need and so keep people focused on value
  • they visualize the necessary value chain, using the y axis to demonstrate how visible components are to the user ( visible to invisible components)
  • they use the x axis to estimate component maturity and enable build-buy-use decisions (genesis to utility); and finally each capability on the map can itself be defined by a map - fitting neatly into the concept of independent services which can be composed into higher order value.



  1. Ubaldi B., Le Fevre M. 2008 p. 56
  2. Kim G. 2019
  3. Corriere C. 2017 p. 7
  4. Adato L., Bertucci D. 2018 p. 5
  5. Barolli L., Takizawa M., Xhafa F., Enokido T. 2019 p. 426

Author: Paulina Wolnik