Thursday, June 20, 2013

A guide to mapping

Whilst there are many methods and mental models that can be used for mapping a business environment, the act of mapping is a critical step in determining strategy. I'm always surprised by how many companies create strategy with what can only be described as poor situational awareness.

I've created a basic video in which I went through a process of mapping that I use and covered some of the fairly basic principles.

Link to Basic Introduction Video

I've been meaning to turn this into a mini-series covering the following - alas, I haven't found time. Someday, maybe I'll get to the full list ...
  • Strategy and why it matters (the why)
  • General principles of mapping (the where, viewing the chessboard)
  • Detailed principles of mapping (eg. a step by step guide from needs to map)
  • Diffusion vs Evolution
  • Value chains as a way of describing organisations
  • Changing characteristics (uncharted to industrialised) and why one size doesn't fit all.
  • Componentisation and Creative Destruction
  • Co-evolution of practice with activity
  • Inertia (a very basic introduction to the concept)
  • Red Queen Effect (the need to adapt)
  • Economic cycles (peace, war and wonder)
  • Formation of New organisations (characteristics of the Next Generation)
  • Use of ecosystems (e.g. ILC)
  • Basic manipulation of the environment (e.g. impact of open, a defensive play of attacking the why)
  • Various strategic & tactical plays (tower and moat, the dark arts, the practice of using open as a weapon, bayesian approaches, using constraints, barriers to entry etc)
  • Finer points of playing the game (e.g. volume effects & Jevons paradox, degeneracy, sustainability, resilience and systemic failures, power relationships, loss of control points through commoditisation, the different forms of capital inertia, limits created by the Red Queen effect, measuring opportunity, industrial profiles, demand and worth based techniques, Salaman and Storey Paradox, Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety)
  • Different types of systems (simple, complex and chaotic)
  • Different types of ecosystem (e.g. two factor markets, competitive utility markets, supply vs consumer ecosystems, consumerisation and switching the control of evolution from one ecosystem to another
  • Impact on organisational structure (e.g. organisational profile, focus of the firm, structure - pioneers, settlers and town planners, the fallacy of business alignment, building on theft)
  • Need for multiple cultures in a single organisation
  • Question of predictability (e.g. finding weak signals, what is and what isn't predictable)
  • Managing flow (feedback loops, OODA, rapid increases in un-modelled data etc). 
  • Macro economic policy (Why Hayek and Keynes are both right, gaming the macro environment)
There are many ways of mapping and there are lots of interesting posts out there covering mapping in one form or another.  Whichever method you use, it's worth remember you won't be able to determine the why of action (why is a relative statement of why here over there) without first identifying where you can attack.  It doesn't matter whether you're building a line of business or looking at a specific project - mapping should always be a starting point.

Finally, yes I'm writing the whole lot up into a book. It's currently 260 pages, needs a lot more work (when I can find time) and lacks the attention of an editor.  None of this stuff is new, it's more about survival than gaining advantage.  Anyway, I will eventually finish it off and at which point, you'll be able to see how deep this particular rabbit hole goes.