What is a Wardley Map?

A Wardley Map is a technique that analyzes a company’s Value Chain and How it provides its products or services to its Customers.

  • Its name comes from its creator: Simon Wardley.

 

To do this, Wardley Maps classify the different elements that make up the Value Chain in two dimensions:

  • Visibility: How visible are the different elements to the Customer.
    • Does the Customer perceive it?

 

  • Evolution: How developed are the different elements of the Value Chain.
    • Have they been recently created or are they mature elements?

How to Create a Wardley Map

Developing a Wardley Map can ve very complex and difficult.

That is why we will suggest you a “simplified” version, so you can use it in your day to day.

 

Remember what we always say:

  • Better to have a simplified but useful tool rather than a complex one that you will never use.

 

But … How to start?

Start with what the User buys

We recommend you to Start with what the Users is buying.

  • The Product or Service.
    • A Computer.
    • A Hamburger.
    • etc.

 

Then you need to start looking at How the company is delivering this product or service:

  • Where is the company offering this product?
    • The Building, the Website.
  • How do they supply the manufactured products?
    • The supply chain, etc.
  • How they promote these products?

 

You have to move from activities that are more Visible to the Customer to those that are more Invisible.

  • Also, you need to link how those activities are related to each other.

How to Develop a Wardley Map – Flowchart

Now that you know how to start…

 

Let’s talk about the two Dimensions:

  • Visibility.
  • Evolution.

Visibility

This vertical axis assesses how visible the different elements of the value chain are from the customer’s perspective.

Let’s see some examples:

 

Visible

 

  • Buildings where products or Services are sold.
  • Websites, and their characteristics.
  • Packaging.
  • Appearance, design, etc.
  • Delivery Service; How the product is delivered.
  • Customer Service.
  • etc.

 

Invisible

 

  • Supply Chain; its design and efficiency.
  • Suppliers; their quality, location, etc.
  • Manufacturing Process.
  • Patents.
  • etc.

Evolution

This axis evaluates how developed or “mature” the elements of the Value Chain are.

 

This “maturity” is evaluated in 5 categories.

Let’s define them and see some examples:

 

Genesis

 

Newly created elements that have not yet proven successful:

  • New Product from a new company.
  • New Manufacturing Process.
  • etc.

 

Custom Built

 

New custom elements that have proven themselves in other situations:

  • Components that were good for other products and are used for a different thing.
  • A Fashion that worked in a foreign country and has been imported.
  • A Manufacturing Process that has been adapted.
  • etc.

 

Product (+ Rental)

 

Mature Elements that have repeatedly proven successful:

  • A optimized Supply Chain.
  • An effective and proven Design.
  • A well-studied location (Know-How).
  • etc.

Something that is a product or “productifiable” (something that works).

 

Commodity (+ Utility)

 

Something can be considered a Commodity when it is so mature and proven that is always synonymous with success.

  • A Famous Brand.
  • A patented Industrial process.
  • A unique product.
  • etc.

 

A Clarification:

  • We prefer to interpret “Commodity” as a Valuable thing that is difficult to imitate, inherent to the company you analyze.
    • Others, interpret it, as something very industrialized.

 

When we develop Wardley Maps, it is much more useful for us to do it this way (for us).

  • That is why we explain you this way.

We know this all seems very confusing.

That is why we want to show you different examples.

 

Let’s see the first one:

Wardley Map example

 

If we were to develop a simplified Wardley map of one of Apple’s latest iPhones, we would have this:

 

As you can see, Apple’s Commodities are:

  • The Design.
  • Brand and Marketing.
  • “Customer Experience”.

 

They rest of its Value Chain has been subcontracted to other companies that assemble, distribute and handle their products.

  • These companies have improved their operations so much that can be considered now in the “Product” category.

 

But….

What happens if we develop a Wardley Map of Apple’s first iPhone release?

 

Apple already had a Brand (not as strong as it became later) and a solid Marketing strategy.

 

However, their Design, Suppliers, Customer ExperienceHad not proven successful.

  • Everything was new.
    • Even the Apple Stores.

 

Even their big suppliers were “rookies”:

  • Samsung (it was the screen supplier) and Foxconn (the company that assembles the iPhone) didn’t have the experience they have today.

This is why Wardley Maps are important:

  • Because they allow you to evaluate a company at a glance.
    • And the Key elements of their operations.

 

However, they usually present one problem:

  • Wardley maps can be made in infinite different ways.
    • It is not a “closed” method.

And this causes people to disagree on their “accuracy”.

 

Then, when should you develop a Wardley Map?

When should you use a Wardley Map?

We recommend developing a Wardley Map in the following situations:

  • When you are analyzing a Company.
    • It highlights the main elements of its Value Chain.

 

  • When designing a Business Strategy.
    • It can show you where the opportunities are.

 

  • For an annual report of a Company.
    • By comparing different years, the evolution of the company can be visualized.

 

  • When you are looking to improve a Business but don’t know where to start.
    • It allows you to have an easy picture of the operations of the company.

 

Now, let’s see more examples:

Wardley Map examples

We know that this tool is a bit complex to understand.

  • That is why we have prepared different examples.

 

In these examples, we will compare Wardley Maps of different companies; when they started and once they were successful.

  • As we did in the Apple example.

 

Let’s begin:

Restaurant - Wardley Map example

 

Let’s imagine you have started a New Restaurant, specialized in Pizzas (because… We love Pizza).

  • Since you want to want to improve your Business, you develop a Wardley Map, once a year.

 

Your first year Wardley Map looks like this:

 

As you can see:

  • Your Menu is completely new.
  • Your Kitchen, Oven, Products, etc… Are very ordinary: They have nothing special.

 

Some years later, after improving your Kitchen, after trying different Menus, investing in your Brand…

You have a successful Restaurant.

 

Let’s look at the Wardley Map of your successful restaurant:

 

Now:

  • You have a good Menu, with famous dishes everybody loves.
  • You have a Special Wood Oven that makes the best pizzas in town.
  • You know what Decoration, Service… People like the most.
  • You have a strong Brand.

Website - Wardley Map example

 

Let’s imagine you have started your own Website.

  • You are not quite sure what to write about, what the site should look like …

 

But, every year, you will develop a Wardley Map, so you can track your progress.

 

In your first year, your Wardley Map looks like this:

 

As you can see:

  • Your Content is in a “Genesis” state: You still don’t know what content works yet.
  • Your Design and Appearance have been “Imported” from a Theme.
    • So… Nothing Special

 

Some years later, you have a Site with +100,000 users per month.

You finally have a successful Site.

 

Let’s see the Wardley Map of your successful Site:

 

Now:

  • You know exactly what people like: Your Content is your strongest Commodity.
  • Your site now has Programmed Features that work much better.
  • You have a recognizable Brand.

Clothing Store - Wardley Map example

 

In this example, we’ll imagine you have started your own Clothing Store.

  • You love fashion, but you are not sure about the preferences of your Clients.

 

As you are a very methodical person, you decide that once a year you will develop a Wardley Map.

 

This is what your first Wardley Map looks like:

 

As you can see:

  • You subcontract to designers to design clothes without a defined style.
  • Your suppliers are common Suppliers with nothing special.
  • Your Marketing campaign is based on paid ads on the Internet: Nothing more.

 

Some years later, you have a successful Clothing store.

 

This is what your successful store Wardley Map looks like.

 

Now:

  • You know exactly what designs your Clients love; And you design them yourself.
  • You have a solid Brand.
  • You have a good Know-How about where to place your Shops.
  • Your Marketing campaigns are much more sophisticated and effective.

Summarizing

A Wardley Map is a technique that analyzes a company’s Value Chain and How it provides its products or services to its Customers.

 

To do this, Wardley Maps use 2 axis:

  • Visibility: How visible are the different elements to the Customer.
    • This axis classifies from most Visible to least Visible to the customer.

 

  • Evolution: How developed are the different elements of the Value Chain.
    • This axis is usually divided into:
      • Genesis, Custom Built, Product, Commodity.

 

We recommend developing a Wardley Map in the following situations:

  • When you are analyzing a Company.
  • When designing a Business Strategy.
  • For an annual report of a Company.
  • When you are looking to improve a Business but don’t know where to start.

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