Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why no consultants?

One of the mantras of mapping is no consultants. The reason for this is fairly simple. When you look at a map of a landscape then the precision of where the components are on the evolution axis increases from left to right (see figure 1). 

Figure 1 - Precision and mapping

The reason for this is evolution is determined by ubiquity versus certainty and you can't determine where something precisely is on a certainty axis if the act is uncertain. Many years ago, I used this to deconstruct Gartner's hype cycle and demonstrate that it couldn't be built from physical measurement but was most likely built from aggregated consultant opinion. Sorry if I've popped a bubble there and you thought the Gartner hype cycle was some form of science based physical measurement rather than opinion. This of course doesn't mean it isn't useful but it's purely a perception.

Anyway, the way you resolve this issue of precision is to use the work of the Marquis De Condorcet (1785) commonly referred to the wisdom of the crowd. Under this work then if each member of a voting group is more likely than not to make a correct decision, the probability that the highest vote of the group is the correct decision increases as the number of members of the group increases. This means you need two things when mapping. Firstly, a reasonably sized group of people to create the map and secondly all of those people to work within the business and hence more likely than not to provide a more precise approximation of how evolved something is.

Naturally, it might be precisely wrong. There are biases and you have to be careful to watch for these. However, the point that I want to make clear is that when mapping an environment (along with the strategic play that follows) then outside help is generally useless if not worse than useless. Yes, those House of Lies facsimiles really aren't worth the paper they're printed on. The exception to outside help is of course when making comparison to other groups in order to identify and remove any bias you might have. But then all you need is the maps of the other group (and they benefit from your sharing) and not some smiling suited clone who will empty your bank account.

Yes, there are opportunities to create aggregated data services but just to re-iterate:-

The only people who can map an organisation are those working in the organisation. Strategy consultants can't help you here.

Maps are dynamic and constantly changing. Whilst there are common economic patterns and play, you have to react the field of competition constantly adapting strategic play and executing accordingly. The people running the organisation are the ones playing the game of chess, you can't outsource this to a bunch of strategy consultants either.

The best you can get from a bunch of strategy consultants is maybe some gameplay from other industries which you can apply to yours or some systems for weak signal detection. For the latter there are great companies like Quid and Palantir. Unfortunately for the former, understanding strategic gameplay requires a good level of situational awareness and the ability to apply any patterns to the context that your business is in. Strategy consultancy firms I've met tend to suck at this.

If you don't know, I'm not a fan of Strategy Consultancy firms. Those that I've met are a complete waste of time and money in my opinion.

13th April 2015

My form of mapping is creative commons share alike. This means anyone can use it without paying some license fee. All that is required is your time and effort. An introduction into how to map can be found here.

To API or not to API

Ok, we've covered so many times the importance of APIs in the ecosystem wars along with how to build and exploit models like ILC (innovate-leverage-commoditise) over the last seven years that I thought I wouldn't cover very old ground again. 

Except …

I was asked when should you look at providing something as a public API? Well, take a look at your map (see figure 1). There are three areas to note.

Figure 1 - Maps and API

Those areas are :-

1) Too Early. The act is still evolving and unlikely to be suitable for provision as a pubic API due to its constantly changing nature.

2) Sweetspot. The act is becoming well defined and ubiquitous and is probably close to being suitable for provision as a public API. This is where you can take the most advantage, drive the act to a utility and prepare to build and exploit an ecosystem.

3) Too Late. The act is almost certainly already provided through a public API and so you should just consume. If not … whoot ahoy! … release a public API in double quick time.

Jevons in a nutshell

Jevons paradox is caused by multiple factors. For simplicity sake, a simple diagram to help explain most of these.

Monday, April 28, 2014

'What can men do' - a male perspective

There has been a lot of overdue discussion on sexism within the tech industry in recent times including some excellent posts on 'What can men do' (by @shanley) and other attempts usually by men to portray themselves as 'reasonable but supporting' voices.

So, being a male that inhabits a certain part of the spectrum and knowing that some males are concerned and confused over what to do then I thought I'd produce an easy to follow list - well, we all like lists!

Step 1 - Shut the f*!k up.
Let's face it, as much as we want to put our two pennies worth forward and come up with 'solutions', we have no experience of the issues at hand and are talking from a position of complete ignorance. No matter how you try to slice and dice it, we don't know what on earth we're talking about. In such a circumstance, the best thing you can do is say nothing. I realise that's tricky for many of us but this is what we need to do. Otherwise, despite all your 'good' intentions you'll just end up doing another @codinghorror and writing something that will just be a reinforcing 'illustration of how women are treated in tech'.

If it helps, just remember that time when you were looking for a memory leak in a 100K LOC C++ application whilst an annoying project manager was trying to give you advice based upon their experience of writing a simple IF statement in an excel spreadsheet formula fifteen years ago. In this circumstance, you are THAT project manager.  You might believe that a narrow skill set such as producing Gantt charts (or the equivalent of coding today) gives you the superhuman ability to solve everything without experience but you're wrong, you are deluded. So realise this stuff wrecks lives, just keep quiet and ...

Step 2 - Listen
Ok, again not normally a strong suit for many of us but absolutely essential given our complete ignorance and lack of experience on the issues at hand. Of course, before we can listen we need to first shut up (see step 1) ... hence make sure you keep to the steps in order. I strongly recommend ignoring any male writers and their 'advice' on the topic particularly if they are attempting to 'move the conversation forward' with words like 'reasonable' or 'compromise'. They don't know what they're talking about anymore than you or I do. The only people who can reasonably move the conversation forward are those with experience of the issues (i.e. women in tech) and obviously those women who are raising it. People like +Shanley Kane et al.

Step 3 - Act & Support
Once you've gotten past the shutting up and listening stage then it's onto our favourite bit which is the doing something stage. The something we should do is to follow and support the recommendations made by those people with experience. Avoid trying to come up with your own 'perspective' and creating your own 'solution'. Simply listen and act upon what you're told to do.

It's really important to keep to the steps in order, so if it helps then make a checklist and tick them off as you go. It sounds simple but as we all know shutting up, listening and acting / supporting are remarkably difficult things to do.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Zero Hour MPs

I've submitted an e-petition to the UK Treasury on zero hour contracts for MPs. Once I have the link I'll put it up here.

The proposal is as follows ...

"In a time of austerity, we need to encourage community involvement and efficiency in the political process whilst promoting innovation in technology, a UK growth sector. The proposal is that all MPs should be put on zero hour contracts. On arrival at the House of Commons, constituents will vote (e.g. via mobile phone app) on whether their MP is needed for the day. For Ministers and Shadow Ministers, the entire electorate can vote.

If it is determined that an MP is needed then a standard daily rate plus expenses covering travel costs will be provided. Special exceptions for non attendance (e.g. overseas trips) are allowed.

Voting mechanism should be distributed online and developed through a funded open source effort encouraging community participation and technology innovation. Voting daily on whether an MP is needed should stimulate both community involvement in politics and focus MPs on delivering user needs.

The system should also be extended to the House of Lords."

Link ... to be added.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, employees are happier on zero hour contracts and it would therefore not only be unfair to deny our MPs the right to enjoy such privileges but by introducing them we could hopefully create a more participatory environment.

--- Update 28th April

Alas, the issue of whether or not we could have Zero Hour MPs has been rejected on the following grounds.

This e-petition has been rejected with the following reason given:

E-petitions cannot be used to request action on issues that are outside the responsibility of the government. This includes:
party political material
commercial endorsements including the promotion of any product, service or publication
issues that are dealt with by devolved bodies, eg The Scottish Parliament
correspondence on personal issues

I'm somewhat perplexed as to why the contract arrangements of MPs are outside the responsibility of Government or would be considered party political or how any of the other clauses apply?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The wow of mapping

So far, I've covered then good bits of mapping - namely focus on user needs, coping with change, effective management of complex environments and contracts, better scenario planning and strategic gameplay, improvements in communication and risk management and the ability to identify opportunities from system level to policy - along with the Amazing aspects of mapping of better situational awareness (correlated with market cap growth) & organisational learning, initiation of potentially more effective organisational structures and heightened ability to anticipate change.

The above is a 'kick ass' list of business superpowers however it is nothing compared to what's next.

If you haven't read those two posts - STOP! Go read both of them - the good bits of mapping & the Amazing aspects of mapping - and then return.

The conclusions of this post are also the most controversial because the examples are rare in the extreme and data is very thin. However, if this concept is right then to give the 'wow' a title then it has to be :-

1) Organisations don't need one culture, they need three.

First, a bit of background. I noticed this effect first in 2004 when I implemented the first early prototype of a Pioneer, Settler and Town Planner structure in Fotango. Of course, back then I was experimenting without a clear understanding of why the new structure improved our efficiency and innovation so effectively. I do now, or at least I have a pretty good idea why.

To explain why, we need a little bit of a journey. First, when mapping a business you need to get people involved in the organisation to do the mapping and preferably large numbers of them. This is because one of the axis of evolution is certainty and it's actually difficult to precisely say where something is on such an axis. You can use the wisdom of the crowd effect (see Marquis de Condorcet) but this requires each voting member to be 'more likely than not to make a correct decision'. Hence it has to be people experienced in the business and the environment itself i.e. there's no general consultancy gig in mapping and if any consultant offers to map your business ... run away. Of course, you can get strategy advice once you've mapped but since most big strategy firms I've met tend to fail at getting the ten good point right ... run away. It's always way better to learn to play chess for yourself.

Now, once you've mapped a business you still have a problem ... bias. Having watched and collected maps from different companies, I've noticed a tendency of companies in similar industries to think in similar ways. This is a probably a side effect of competing against each other, people moving between companies in an industry and industry specific conferences.  Hence what is considered advanced modelling techniques in the oil and gas business is not the same as what is considered advanced modelling techniques in the high tech industry. Though I don't have enough data to categorically state this (yet), it would appear that not only do you have early adopters and laggards within industries but entire industries can be early adopters or laggards. However, within a laggard industry there will be companies that consider themselves to be early adopters because they're comparing to their competitors. A bias exists towards the industry norm.

Hence if you take mathematical modelling techniques, let us hypothesise that the rough order is high tech > media > retail > finance > pharma > oil and gas. Then not only will you have early adopters and laggards in each of those sectors but the sectors themselves will exhibit differences. Hence a company in the finance industry which considers itself a 'early adopter' might dismiss a high tech company moving into their industry but can often find themselves competing against a beast they're poorly equipped to deal with. The problem with this bias is that the delta between industry sectors may well be growing (this is part of a current research examination).

Now, putting bias aside for moment, I want to now turn to profile. If you take all the maps of a company, by simply counting frequency of components at different stages of evolution then you can generate a profile. At the moment this is a very imprecise and highly polluted technique (because of bias) but it gives us a 'flavour' to how a company views itself.

The interesting aspect of a profile, is that each section requires different management techniques and methods. It was an awareness of this that led me to the pioneer, settler and town planner structure (PST) in the first place. See figure 1.

Figure 1 - Pioneer, Settler and Town Planner

So rather than organising by 'type' of components grouped into functional departments (such as IT, Marketing, Finance & Operations), under a PST structure the company organises by 'evolution' and components flow from one group to another through a process of theft. For more details read here.

In the PST world there is no IT, Finance and Operations others than subset specialisms of PST. When implementing this structure, people appear to be attracted to different parts of the profile. I'm not going to say there are different characteristics of people but a tendency of people to be happier with certain parts of the profile. Also the cultures of each part are different - pioneers operate better in an environment which is different to town planners. Finally, each part of the profile is important for a company's current and future health.

Hence I was piqued by Lou Adler's post on there being 'only four types of jobs in the world' because in a PST world (based upon evolution) there are only three.  Oh and for reference the difference between Lou's post and the much earlier PST structure is the Pioneers are the builders, Settlers are the improvers, Town Planners are the producers and contrary to Lou's assertion, all three groups contain thinkers. I've seen more recent work (at Greenwich University) which seems to support this structure further.

However, this is not the key point. I happen to have created and experienced a PST structure and seen equivalents and whilst there isn't enough data to statistically prove it is vastly better beyond reasonable doubt, it is more inline with how things evolve and my experience tells me it is a vast improvement in terms of innovation and efficiency.

But there is a significant wow which I slipped in the above. That wow is that under structures like PST (and equivalents) then a single company requires three separate cultures to work effectively. In much the same way there is not a single size fits all management method for projects, there is not a single size fits all for culture. There maybe common elements but the culture and type of people for each stage is different. 

This is pretty much counter to everything which is written on organisational culture today. That's the big wow of mapping and if you're embarking on a mapping journey, this is where it will lead you. I know because I've been there.

Oh, and why wow? Because if the above is right, then there are far more effective organisational forms than what exists today. Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook etc aren't the permanent titans that people make them out to be. They can be taken.

Oh, and what happened to Fotango? Well, as far I know it was a bunch of strategy consultants that persuaded the parent company the future was in 3D television and variants thereof rather then the stuff Fotango was doing in 2005 - namely 3D printing, mobile phones as camera, platform as a service, server side javascript, automation, continuous deployment, infrastructure as a service, nosql like object data stores, online visual scrapbooks ... oh, it was a depressingly long list. 

I'm not a fan of big name strategy consultancy firms. In my world they take the 'kick' out of 'kick ass'.

The amazing aspects of mapping

In the previous post I covered the good bits about mapping - namely user needs, coping with change, effective management of complex environments and contracts, better scenario planning and strategic gameplay, improvements in communication and risk management and the ability to identify opportunities from system level to policy. It's not a bad list and I have examples of all.

However, now I want to discuss the amazing aspects of mapping.

1) Situational Awareness & Organisational learning
It turns out that mapping is incredibly useful for organisational learning particularly in aspects of gameplay because it provides a common language and a way of examining, recording and testing changes in an economic environment. This is actually a pretty big deal. However, it works because it helps increase situational awareness of an environment and this in itself turns out to be fairly massive.

Some time ago, I undertook a study of companies in the high tech industry looking at their level of strategic gameplay (i.e. understanding of their environment and those of competitors) against action which in this case was manipulation of the market through open means whether open data, open source, open hardware or even open APIs (NB all APIs are 'open' since they cannot be copyrighted).

This I plotted on a bubble chart (the bigger the bubbles the more companies involved) and then examined market cap changes over the last seven years. The results are show in figure 1. Basically the upshot is that situational awareness and strategic play are strongly correlated with market cap growth. 

Figure 1 - strategic play vs open as a means of manipulating markets.

The best of the bunch (who have high levels of strategic play and use open as a weapon) I nicknamed Players. The worst (who exhibited neither), I call Chancers

Now, often people talk to me about 'open by default' to which I'll respond that being 'open by default' or not being 'open by default' has little to no correlation with success in terms of market cap growth. What matters is the level of strategic play and those with good strategic play who tend to use open as weapon show the highest market cap growth.

The importance of this is that it demonstrates that situational awareness (i.e. knowing where to attack and why to attack one space over another) is more important than action (i.e. the how, the what and the when'). This was curtly summarised in Professor Roger L. Martin response in the Execution Trap to Jamie Dimon's doctrine - “Dimon’s doctrine - that execution is the key to a strategy’s success - is as flawed as it is popular.”

Well, the idea that 'execution is the key to a strategy's success' is fundamentally flawed and the data says the opposite. Key is situational awareness.

2) Structure
Whenever you start mapping a complex environment, because it has multiple components at different stages of evolution then you tend to start to treat components individually e.g. in the case of HS2 (high speed rail) then you tend to use multiple methods rather than single size methods.

Figure 2 - Multiple methods in HS2

This approach of breaking down complex environments into component systems has a tendency to result in teams being organised around components. Such principles of component based organisation are embedded in concepts like the USAF FIST (fast, inexpensive, simple and tiny) approach and Amazon's Two Pizza approach and both appear to be highly effective.

Now the change doesn't usually happen overnight but the act of mapping and breaking down systems into logical components appears to trigger this structural change over time. So rather than having one big team dealing with a system, we end up with many small teams dealing with components and an emphasis on the importance of interfaces. Alas, at the moment I don't have enough examples to significantly confirm this effect but I'll mention it because it's certainly an amazing effect of mapping if the trend continues. 

Figure 3 - Breaking down complex systems into logical components appears to initiate a structural change.

3) The Future isn't as unpredictable as we think
One of the most delightful aspects of mapping is in organisational learning and how it can be used to discover common re-occurring economic patterns. For example, how competition drives a cycle of peace, war and wonder which occurs at both macro and micro economic scales. Now, it turns out that some aspects of the economy (e.g. genesis of the novel and new) are highly unpredictable but industrialisation and the shift from product to utility is predictable. In some cases you can say what is going to happen but not when and in others when something will happen but not precisely what. However it's quite uncommon for things to be entirely random though it's extremely hard to predict individual players move as opposed to industry trends.

One particular aspect of this that interests me is how new organisational forms (e.g. fordism, american system, web 2.0) appear. By understanding the economic forces at work (from punctuated equilibriums to co-evolution to inertia), I was able to predict when the next generation would start to emerge though not precisely what they would look like. 

Hence by use of population genetic techniques at roughly the right time, I was able to discover a phenotype (characteristics) of the next generation. I published a summary of the work here but for those just wanting the results rather than details, then table 1.

Table 1 - Traditional vs Next Generation Companies.

So along with the Good - namely user needs, coping with change, effective management of complex environments and contracts, better scenario planning and strategic gameplay, improvements in communication and risk management and the ability to identify opportunities from system level to policy - then the Amazing aspects of mapping are better situational awareness (correlated with market cap growth) & organisational learning, initiation of potentially more effective organisational structures and heightened ability to anticipate change.

These are all 'kick ass' superpowers in business but that's nothing compared to the wow. Which is the next post.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The good bits about mapping.

There has been a number of posts on mapping recently, most notably on 'Mapping the way to a strategy' by James Findlay (CIO of HS2) and 'Revolutionising Digital Public Service Delivery' by Judge's Business School in Cambridge.

Mapping is a large and sometimes complex subject and you'll find ample information on this blog. A good place to start is here. However, in the next three posts, I'm not going to cover how to map, nor the basics of value chains and evolution. Instead I want to talk about the conclusions of mapping - ten good, three amazing and one absolute wow. 

The good bits about mapping are as follows.

1) Focus on user Needs
Mapping inherently focuses an organisation on user needs because the entire value chain used in mapping is a chain of needs. Such a practice is useful because value comes from meeting the needs of others.

Figure 1 - Maps and User Needs

2) Cope with change
Maps are designed to cope with one of the basic rules of competition - that everything evolves - hence maps continuously adapt. The evolution axis reflects how complex environments are constantly changing due to supply and demand side competition.

Figure 2 - Maps and Change

3) Assist in managing complex environments
Maps allow you to see how evolved something is and therefore the most appropriate methods of management. All things evolve from an uncharted to an industrialised space and there isn't a one size fits all method such as agile or six sigma or in-source or outsource. Instead there's multiple methods, each of which are appropriate at different states of evolution. An example of this multiple method approach is the management within HS2 (high speed rail).

Figure 3 - HS2 (High Speed Rail) Maps and methods of management.

4) Enable efficient contract management
Maps enable you to visualise contract arrangements. This is particularly difficult to do with large scale specification documents and box and wire diagrams. In the below example, the contract arrangement for a huge Home Office project was mapped in an afternoon. What this showed was a particular contract due to its depth and width ran severe risks of cost over-runs if management methods were misapplied. This has now been fixed.

Figure 4 - Contract Arrangements in Home Office

5) Assist in scenario planning
Maps enable you to ask what if questions, to examine potential scenarios such as what happens when a component evolves from product to more commodity? They enable you to test potential impacts of changes.

Figure 5 - Scenario planning in the security industry

6) Help in identifying opportunities
Maps allow you to compare to others (whether business units or competitors) and hence more easily identify potential areas of differentiation, opportunities for efficiency and common shared services.

Figure 6 - Comparison between different business units for the same value chain

7) Enable strategic gameplay
Maps enable you to identify where you can attack and the tactical games that you can play from building of ecosystems, exploiting the inertia of others, constraints, use of open as a weapon, undermining barriers to entry and targets for disruption. There's a whole array of tactical games and dark arts than can be deployed by an experienced player.

Figure 7 - Ubuntu and gameplay in the cloud

8) Provide easy communication
Maps are inherently simple, you don't even need to know what the points mean in order to have a discussion about an environment. Maps also turn out to be surprisingly useful for explaining a business environment and getting everyone in an organisation to understand any strategy played.

Figure 8 - Map for a TV company

9) Mitigate risks
Maps also turn out to be extremely useful in identify points of risk within an environment whether this is contract risk, risk of mismanagement, risk of change, constraints or inertia.

10) Have the granularity I need
Finally maps, can be altered in granularity depending upon whether you're looking at policy level, a business unit or tactical games within a system.

Now in terms of competition then if I'm more able to effectively deal with user needs, constant change, management of complex environments and contracts whilst having better scenario planning, strategic gameplay, communication, risk management and the ability to identify opportunities from system level to policy ... then you've got a problem. In practice this only happens when a company using maps (or an equivalent mental model) is competing against companies running on specifications and box and wire diagrams (e.g. IT systems diagrams, business process maps etc). Fortunately that's quite a lot of companies.

However, these are just the good bits about mapping. The Amazing aspects and one Wow are much more dangerous and I'll cover the Amazing in the next post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

'The best summary post that you've done' ... on mapping.

Things appear and diffuse in society through diffusion curves of ever maturing versions of the act. Product A1 leads to a better Product A2 and so on, until it finally becomes more of a commodity (or utility if suitable). These diffusion curves follow a s-curve shape and have an exponential component.

However, many of the curves (A1 to A5) tend to be related to products leading us to a misperception that since the time for products is long then the time to convert to utility will be equally long. This creates a period of overlapping conflict between the product view of the world and the more commodity / utility view of the world.

Figure 1 - Diffusion curves of A1 to A6
*example A1 to Aabove is not real data but a hypothetical.

Whilst diffusion curves are not identical over applicable market and the same time frame, you can graph evolution by measuring over ubiquity and certainty. What drives the process is competition both demand side (which drives ubiquity) and supply side (which drives certainty).

Figure 2 - Evolution of A1 to A6
*example A1 to Aabove is not real data but a hypothetical.

You can then draw a map of the environment and overlay common economic factors e.g. the evolution from the uncharted space (the rare, uncertain and changing) to the industrialised (the common, the defined, the static) and the change of properties this involves. Included in this is how evolution not only drives efficiency but also through the provision of ever more standardised interfaces enables the development of higher order systems which enables future but uncertain sources of wealth (e.g. electricity enabling TV, radio, computing etc).

 Figure 3 - Map of A1 to A6

*example A1 to A6 above is not real data but a hypothetical.

Of course, competition doesn't happen in isolation and the improvements to efficiency (+e), agility in building higher order systems (+a) and hence ability to create new sources of wealth (+w) create competitive pressures for others to adapt. This pressure only increases as more adapt. This mounting pressure creates a punctuated equilibrium between the past and future. Hence the early exponential aspect of diffusion curves.

 Figure 4 - Pressure to adapt mounts as others adapt.

Alas we have inertia to change due to past success. There are over 16 different forms of inertia to be considered.

 Figure 5 - Inertia to Change

We can now take into consideration inertia, the competitive consequences of evolution (+e, +a, +w), the increasing pressure to adapt, the exponential nature of change, the properties of each stage of evolution (uncharted vs industrialised) and the impact of diffusion curves (time for product vs time to utility) to determine an overall pattern of economic change. This has three components - peace, war and wonder and it has a corollary in Hollings adaptive renewal cycle which is unsurprising given the work on evolution is driven by competition effects (as with nature).

 Figure 6 - Peace, War and Wonder from A1 to A6

*example A1 to Aabove is not real data but a hypothetical.

This pattern of peace, war and wonder occurs both at a micro and macro-economic scale. The larger waves (known as Kondratiev waves) are determined by whether the component that is evolving impacts many value chains (i.e. common components such as mechanical components, power, money and computing create large macro waves). The pattern of peace, war and wonder and its characteristics is reflected in the work of Carlota Perez with Wonder covering eruption & frenzy, Peace covering synergy & maturity and War being the phase between one wave and the next.

 Figure 7 - Peace, War and Wonder at a Macro-economic scale.

Understanding the basic patterns, mapping environments and exploiting how to alter the position of pieces on the map is an essential part of strategy. The effects of which are dramatic, as demonstrated by an examination of 100+ companies I undertook back in 2011/2012.

 Figure 8 - Strategic Play and effect on Market Cap over a 7 yr period.

* Examination of high tech leading companies, bubble size refers to number of companies in this group.

Unfortunately most companies have poor situational awareness (understanding of where and why) compared to action (the how, what and when) as exhibited by strategic documents. The main culprit for many of the problems faced is the box and wire diagrams we tend to use to try and understand the jumbled mess of activities, practices and data that represent organisations.

Figure 9 - The box and wire

All of these problems can be improved through the use of maps. However, mapping is only the start of the journey. Then you need to learn how to play chess between companies (and how to organise around evolution) and alas this is not something I can cover in a single blog post.

However, I'll be talking on this subject at OSCON.

PS. The title change was courtesy of @cpswan

For more reading on 
1) How to create a value chain - see here
2) Evolution - see here
3) Some of the basics - see here
4) The overall process - a long and somewhat rambling set of posts which never was completed and which I've since tidied up terms - see here
5) The finer details - hmmm, sorry ... somewhat scattered throughout this blog over the last seven years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Map?

In comparison to box and wire diagrams (IT system diagrams, business process maps etc) then ...

Friday, April 04, 2014

On Mapping and Licenses

I was recently asked a question on licensing of the mapping technique. 

I developed the mapping technique (and the later work on evolution) initially for my own use in 2005 and later refined this in 2007. I have always published the technique under creative commons license. The license I use is known as CC BY-SA 3.0

What this means is that you are free to copy the mapping technique and make derivatives of it under the same license. Does this mean I expect you to open up any maps you create? No. Only the technique, derivatives of the technique and anything which is built upon the technique whether guides or otherwise.

If you don't like that, well ... you can always create your own technique? It only took me several years of thinking about the problem and collecting data to demonstrate the effect. I gave it to the community as a gift as the community has given me so much. Do likewise.

As for writing a book - well, I've started again in my spare time. You can read part of my earlier effort here through a series of posts. As for workshops, I currently do these for LEF members and speak on the subject at Open Source Conferences such as OSCON. I will look at running more public workshops on this subject at some point in the future.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Creating a value chain

The first part of mapping is to create a value chain. This is a chain of NEEDs. You start with the User need and determine the components needed to meet these needs and then any subcomponents that those components need ... and so on.

I often use the example of a cup of tea in tutorials / workshops. I've provided a simple and incomplete example of this in figure 1.

Figure 1 - a chain of needs.

It should be noted that :-

a) The value chain represents a chain of needs with the top being the user (i.e. the people we provide)

b) Things are valuable to others that NEED them.

c) The chain can have cascade effects e.g. if POWER is down then the USER won't get their cup of tea. However what the user cares about (and hopefully pays for) is the cup of tea.  The user doesn't care about your power supplier. As the supplier of the cup of tea then power is your problem. Your power supplier is in effect 'invisible' to the user and the only thing the user cares about is whether you deliver on their cup of tea. If the power fails then the user problem is you failed to give them a cup of tea - this is what is 'visible' to them. 

When mapping, it's important to start with USER needs and by that I mean what they need and not what you need i.e. starting of with a top level need of profitability or branding will lead you down the wrong path as I can guarantee you that most USERS don't have a top level need of making you profitable.