What do I use maps for?

swardley
3 min readJun 8, 2023

It’s an interesting question.

There are some that use maps to challenge what they’re doing i.e. “Why are those racks custom-built?”

There are others who use maps to apply the right methods — whether project management or purchasing or finance i.e. “Where should we use agile?”

Then, there are those who use maps to anticipate change for reasons of investment or managing inertia or both e.g. “Where should we focus” and also “where not to?”

Whilst others use maps to convey complicated spaces, either to focus on user needs or innovation or efficiency or even just to discover that one thing that people are missing e.g. “Isn’t virtual is as much of a transport system as roads are?”

We also have people using maps for strategic play from thinking about ecosystems to where to build them to over 100 different forms of gameplay e.g. “Where to play and what to play?”

At the same time, others use maps to think about issues of sovereignty beyond territorial and into all the landscapes we compete in (economic, technological, political and cultural) i.e. “where should our borders be in a technolocial / economic space” or “where do we colloborate” or “where to conflict” or all of them?

Whilst others use those principles developed from mapping to look at their own organisation to see “what needs to change” or to look at competitors to see “what can be exploited?”

I haven’t even mentioned the use of maps in contracts or organisational structure or risk assessment or financial flow or removal of duplication or analysis of culture or finding weakness in supply chains or learning with maps through pre and post mortem analysis or … the list goes on and on.

Fortunately the question wasn’t “Where can maps be used” but “What do I use maps for?”

Fundamentally, I use them as a means of communication. A way of escaping the tyranny of stories, the syntax, rules, styles and politics of story tellers by projecting a team into a world of objects, relationships, patterns, context and consensus.

There isn’t a right use of maps, there are many uses and a lot depends upon what a group of people need at the time they start mapping. There’s also personal preference. Some like to start with organisation, others start with principles.

There is no “right way” any more than there is a “right map”. There is only what you find useful. Hence, don’t concern yourself with what I use maps for, find your own path and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Originally published at https://blog.gardeviance.org.

--

--

swardley

I like ducks, they're fowl but not through choice. RT is not an endorsement but a sign that I find a particular subject worthy of challenge and discussion.