Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What is a map, what isn't?

I was asked recently what makes a map? There are two important aspects of a map [when used for gameplay against competitors or a market, see comment by Alex below] and these are position and movement.

1) Position gives you the relationship between things.
2) Movement shows you how things can change.

Hence when you look at a Chessboard, you can see the position of pieces and where they can move. When you look at a battlefield map, you can see the position of pieces and where they can move. Equally when you look at Wardley Map (see figure 1), you can see the position (i.e. relationship between components in the value chain) and where they can move (i.e. how they can evolve). From this you can determine where to attack etc.

Figure 1 - A Map

What makes a map? Position and movement are fundamental. They provide a means of viewing the landscape and determining direction. Whilst maps are an extremely useful learning tool, they don't give you the answer (for that you apply thought) but instead they show you the landscape.

However, what isn't a map? Anything which doesn't have position and movement isn't a map in my opinion. You do get numerous things called maps but they're normally box and wire diagrams giving relationships between things but no movement (e.g. business process diagram, IT systems diagram) or some form of flow diagram (i.e. flow of things through a value chain, it provides an in-situ examination but has no aspect of movement or change). This doesn't mean they're not useful, they are in their own contexts. Just when it comes to improving situational awareness and strategic play then they are less than ideal.