Monday, January 26, 2015

Why is mapping more popular in Government than Commercial companies?

I was asked this question and thought I'd better explain some important aspects of mapping

First, mapping is about situational awareness and therefore it helps if people have had some military background or experience. Second, I tend to find mapping is more popular in smaller organisations (founder run) and Governments which both need to think about the longer term and strategic play more carefully.

Mapping does take a bit of work and thinking about. Yes, it can remove duplication, fundamentally change the way you play the game but it's not really suited to large commercial organisation. Why?

Well, if you consider that it can take a couple of years to get really good at mapping, collate all the maps needed to enhance your situational awareness and learn to play the game then despite its effectiveness, the timeframe is too long for many large commercial organisations. Execs don't tend to think long term (i.e. > 3 years) as they only expect to be in their position for a short time. I've met many that actively discourage longer term thinking. They often don't give two hoots about survivability of the organisation beyond their term and are instead focused almost exclusively on short term share price fluctuations. This is what they are motivated by and unlike a founder run organisation, there is no legacy or loyalty here. 

What I've often found is that execs are after a quick fix to boost share price which is why copying others / backward causality / cost cutting are so attractive. The last thing they generally want to do is rock the boat, think about the long term or make significant changes which others aren't doing. The market actually discourages people from doing this.

Mapping on the other hand is more about long term sustainability than short term quick fixes. It lacks the simplicity and speed of a SWOT requiring a more dedicated effort to understand user needs, the environment, evolution and how to improve situational awareness. It's therefore not suitable for all organisations.