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What is doctrine?

For mappers, Doctrine is not a scary word but a set of universally applicable principles. Principles that work in every situation, for every organisation.

Think of it. Can any reasonable person argue that principles such as 'Know your users' or 'Challenge assumptions' should be ignored?

It just does not make sense. That makes them universally applicable.

Every single organisation should have those principles covered.

Unfortunately, they often don't because they are not aware this is something they should manage.

Simon Wardley identified forty universal principles, and, for many organisations, this is a breakthrough because they can finally talk about their internal processes.

The expectations are that organisations that are poor at doctrine are poor in business because they cannot react to market changes even if their existing business looks good.

How do you use doctrine?

Simon represents doctrine like this (do not worry about the individual principles nor phases yet, we will cover them later):

Doctrine - empty.png

Image 1: A full doctrine table.

You can ask your team to show how they feel about a particular principle.  There is no maturity model, no scale, just three colours:

  • green - we are doing great

  • amber - we could improve a few things

  • red - we do not do it

Doctrine results.jpg

Image 2: A first set of doctrine principles with votes.

The mere fact of those principles evaluation shows where are weaknesses and enables corrective actions. This is also the shortest path to getting value out of Wardley Mapping without learning maps in the first place.

Also, you can evaluate two companies (look at the images below) and ask yourself one of questions:

  • For which company I would like to work?

  • In which company I would like to invest?

  • Which company is a more dangerous competitor?

Doctrine red.png
Doctrine green.png

Image 3 & 4: Which of those companies look better? Which one is better to work for and which one is better to compete with?

How to use doctrine phases?

Before you run a marathon, you need to know how to run. Before you run, you need to know how to walk.

Forty doctrine principles is a lot, and trying to introduce all of them in one go would end in an inevitable crash 💥.

That is why the doctrine principles are split into four groups (or phases). If you want to work with doctrine, you start with principles listed in the phase I, then phase II, then phase III, then phase IV. Later phases require earlier phases to work.

Phase I

Phase I consists of the principles listed in the table below. Each principle links to corresponding Simon's writing.

Phase II

Phase III

Phase IV


Tooling is pretty limited. You can explore an open source if you wish to. It is a simple tool that lets you evaluate a single company and download result as a png file.

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