Mapping sudoku: inventory dynamics


The purpose of this exercise is to use a Wardley Map to learn more about the dynamics that the changes in user demand provokes to our ability to serve these physical products.

The context is on the physical product space. You have to think about a product that is delivered physically to an user.

If you don’t work in this space or now you do not remember a good example I will give you one:

  • Think about a local furniture company that serves its products into a big city.
  • The products are sold on-line and in a couple of stores located in the city.
  • There is a local warehouse where you have limited reserve of inventory.

Draw the map

Draw a map where you have:

  • User and its needs.
  • Capabilities that satisfies the need.
  • On top of these capabilities you should have a physical product or service. We will use it and the inventory level to play with it.
  • In case you are serving the products through different channels or geographies, try to draw them.
  • Place these channels in the right stage of the X-axis.

Working on the dynamics of the inventory levels

There are many reasons that provokes that you run out of stock. The exercise consist on identifying different points of failure in your supply chain.

The way I propose you here consist in three steps:

  1. Define assumptions: define some conditions that are transitional situations you could have.
  2. Ask questions: based on the previous assumptions, ask questions about on which points the inventory could fail.
  3. Navigate and rationalize: go through the dynamics of the purchase and provision of the good, identifying weak points and asking questions.

There is no unique way of doing this exercise, you can do it with other visual techniques too. The value of doing it with a Wardley Map resides in the positions of the components: they have meaning in the X-axis and the Y-axis.


  • Is the exercise useful?
  • Did you learn something?
  • Anything to improve?

Many thanks, any constructive feedback is welcome.

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