Why Wardley Maps are not so much popular?

This post is a set of reasons I think that made Wardley Maps are still not so much popular.

Wardley Maps were formally published in 2005, so now in 2022 they are 17 years old.

1.- There is a map of mapping

In chapter 7 of the original book from Simon Wardley, there is an explanation about mapping. It’s important to understand the ultimate purpose, the scope and the imperative.

Map about mapping, courtesy of Simon Wardley.

2.- Simon is not following the “US Sales” approach.

There are a lot of self-made American individuals that have overcome thousand of hurdles in their lives and now they sell their own success case to others through a method, an approach, a secret recipe or any other way. Simon is not that type of guy. His style is completely different.

It’s not the first time than an American mapper tells me how is it possible than mapping is not as popular as another methods, best practices that are not better than Wardley Maps, but are more popular.

I have attended to a call where the conversation was:

  • X: Why Wardley Maps are not so much popular?
  • Simon: They don’t try to be popular, they try to be useful. If you find them useful, use them. If you don’t just skip them.
  • X: Eihn?

Simon’s approach is more long term, and he knows that if Wardley maps is useful, they will be used in the long terms. If they are used because they are popular, people using them will jump into the next popular method once is more popular than Wardley Maps.

3.- People hide their secret tools

If you have a competitive advantage you protect it. You can do it hiding it, protecting with a patent, or any other mechanism.

Wardley Maps cannot be patent, but they can be hidden.

A CEO that uses maps in its organization and is success about it knows that maps are part of the added value he provides to the company, but there are others: leadership, ability to execute… that person on that role understands s/he is the one providing value, and s/he is going to protect its methods.

4.- There is not a public figure that talks about maps in public

I have seen some videos where Elon Musk explains so many details about how Space-X build the different products they have in the pipeline. His jargon is so closed to the Wardley maps jargon that I cannot believe that they do not use them.

As the evolution of the popularity of the maps is not linear, but they are done in diffusion curves, I’m sure the day Elon Musk or any other public figure recognizes he use Wardley Maps, that day, so many people will be asking about the maps.

5.- Maps are not seen as cool

Linked to the previous point: a public figure that talk about how s/he uses Wardley Maps, it’s the fact that the tool is not seen as “cool”. There are not cool memes around the maps, an iconic logo or a leitmotiv that makes the people to be engaged.

I’m adding my 5 cents on this point, creating the “maps or die” leitmotiv.


“Map or die” is an attitude!! Let’s draw all our interpretations on a map,

let’s discuss about different views,

let’s talk about an articulated approach to ultimate purpose!!

or just die going around in a circle! We can be right or wrong, but we will try!!!

6.- The hordes of advisory firms stir the strategic thinking of the organizations

This is a reality in so many organization, public and private. There is not discussion about it. An this makes that people holding key roles in organizations play the game of:

“Nobody is fired by doing what “this Big4″ recommends”.

This sandbagging attitude for protecting its own position is very well known, and more common that you can figure out. I have lived and suffer it, and this cannot be ignored. There is a big hurdle to overcome there.

Do you have any other reason?

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