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Wardley Mapping Notation


Wardley Mapping lacks a formal, standardized notation. However, the notation introduced by Simon in his book has become a widely accepted community standard, which many people adapt and extend to suit their needs. It is OK to deviate as long as your maps stays readable and useful.

A component


A single entity in a map e.g. an activity, practice, data or knowledge

A component is a form of capital and can represent anything:

  • An activity (often a business capability)

  • Practice (how you achieve something)

  • Data (measurements and observations)

  • Knowledge (how to do something, understanding of a particular domain)

The black color indicates that the component refers to a current (or past) situation.


A component

Component (future)

Same as regular component, except indicating a future position.

A component

Interface / line of the present

A connection between components

We frequently talk about dependencies between components. We represent a dependency with a line. The example below shows a server depending on power because it requires power to run.

A component

Line of the future

How the situation is anticipated to be in the future

Some mappers tend to stick to red for marking the future. Others use animations to show "as-is" or "to-be" states, while some use different colors. All of these methods are acceptable as long as the map remains clear.

A component


A limitation of a competitive marketplace

Sometimes, a particular component seems to be generally available but depends on something constrained, like computer chips requiring silicon wafers. This means you cannot produce as many chips as you want because there is a limited supply of silicon wafers.

Note that the connection looks just like a dependency, except it is notably wider.

A component

Point of change

How the map is changing e.g. competitive force

The red dashed arrow shows how the world is changing around us. The example below illustrates that AI is becoming more industrialized (more predictable and more accessible to those interested in it).

A component


Likely to face a resistance to a change

Inertia is an earlier investment in some other capability. The example below shows that we want to spread equality, but for some reason, it is progressing slowly. There are sixteen different types of inertia. On a map, inertia is used to indicate that a particular change is far from being trivial.

A component


A flow of capital (e.g. risk, financial, physical, social) between components

You might need to show how value travels through your map. Simon uses blue highlights to do that. The example below shows a simple dependency graph, highlighting a particularly important flow of value (from the driver to the person needing the travel) and funds (from the person needing the travel to the driver). It is usually up to the map maker to determine if and what flows to highlight.

A component


Formation of a competitive marketplace

Imagine the emergence of a central market where all customers and producers interact. This usually creates a highly competitive environment where winners take it all.

This component has been used a few times in Simon's book, but otherwise, it is used rather infrequently.

A component


An ecosystem model e.g. ILC.

Again, this is a component type that is used rarely. It indicates that a complex ecosystem of providers of various services and customers has emerged, with some dynamics occurring within it (some providers are growing at the expense of others).

A component

Accelerator / deaccelerator

An attempt to alter the map

This wide arrow represents our influence or goals. The example below shows that we aim to make Universal Basic Income more widespread.

An arrow pointing left would indicate that we want to reduce the availability (restrict) of it.

A component

Area of interest / focus / cell

An area of interest, something worth noting e.g. componetns designated to a team

This highlight indicates something important. In the example below, it draws attention to Controllers and Sensors. It might suggest that a particular team will attempt to create something or that further analysis is needed. Either way, it signifies importance.

A component


Build / Use / Outsource

build in-house with agile techniques

use off the shelf products. Lean.

outsource to utility suppliers. Six Sigma.

These symbols are used to indicate how different components should be handled. The example below shows that some components will be outsourced (Electric Motor and Rare Earth Metals), while others will be built in-house (Batteries) with the help of off-the-shelf Controllers and Sensors.

A component


Pioneers / Villagers / Town Planners


They will invent Lego bricks.

Settlers / Villagers

They will commercialize Lego bricks.

Town Planners

They will build a factory for Lego bricks.

Sometimes, you need people with different attitudes to handle your project. Simon decided to use bright colors to indicate what kind of people are where. See the example below.

A component


"OR" relationship

Sometimes, it is necessary to identify many components that fall into one category, and often, dependencies are on some of them. Imagine that you are a lawyer. You work with laws, but there are different laws at different levels of maturity, and you might need to know only some of them for your case. You could represent this situation as:

The square at the top is not always included, but it indicates the center of gravity for the evolution of all the components.

If you want to simply highlight the category, you can use just the square without going into details:

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