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A Wardley map is a map of the structure of a business or service, mapping the components needed to serve the customer or user. Wardley maps are named after Simon Wardley who claims to have created them in 2005.[1] This form of mapping was first used in Fotango (a British Company) in 2005,[2] within Canonical UK between 2008 and 2010[3] and components of mapping can be found in the Better For Less paper published in 2010.[4]


Each component in a Wardley map is classified by the value it has to the customer or user and by the maturity of that component, ranging from custom-made to commodity. Components are drawn as nodes on a graph with value on the y-axis and commodity on the x-axis. A custom-made component with no direct value to the user would sit at the bottom-left of such a graph while a commodity component with high direct value to the user would sit at the top-right of such a graph. Components are connected on the graph with edges showing that they are linked.

Much of the theory of Wardley mapping is set out in a series of 19 blog posts[5] and a dedicated wiki called Wardleypedia.[6] As use of the technique has broadened to new institutions and been used to map new things the application of the technique in practice has drifted from the original vision.


Imagine that we want to set up a new drone courier service. The user need is to receive packages quickly from our company. Our objective as a company is to meet this user need by delivering packages quickly to customers. This is a high-value, low-commodity component and is placed at the top-left of a Wardley map. If there were dozens of competing drone courier companies this component would move right on the Wardley map, indicating that the service is closer to being a commodity.

Other components are mapped similarly. For example, a drone operator needs to be aware of the weather conditions to determine the route a drone should take and the maximum weight it can carry. Weather information is of little value to the customer and can be bought from a wide range of weather data providers. It is thus placed at the bottom-right of the Wardley map.

Key components needed to set up a drone courier service (left). The same components on a Wardley map (right).


Wardley maps are used within UK government, with particular interest within the Government Digital Service (GDS)[7] for strategic planning and identifying the best targets for government digital service modernisation.

They have been used to map the existing and planned technology infrastructure and services for High-Speed Two (HS2).[8]


The Atlas2[9] tool, by Leading Edge Forum, aims to assist with the creation of Wardley maps.[10]


The Wardley mapping process for abstracting a business or service into components is often not intuitive to people who experience it for the first time. A particular challenge is the subjective placement of each component on a Wardley map, with different people and even the same people at different times likely to place a component in a significantly different position on the map. While there is still value in identifying these uncertainties and differences of opinion, detractors claim that the same valuable discussion could have been achieved without the Wardley mapping process being involved.

Proponents of Wardley mapping claim that much of the process's value lies in "exposing assumptions. allowing challenge and creating consensus"[11] — but detractors worry that the process in fact lets people "launder assumptions into facts, delegitimise challenge (and still create consensus)".[12]


  1. ^ "An introduction to Wardley (Value Chain) Mapping". Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  2. ^ Wardley, Simon. "A Wardley Map". Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  3. ^ swardley. "Mapping and playing games". Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  4. ^ Maxwell, Liam (7 September 2010). ""Better for Less"" (PDF). The Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age.
  5. ^ "wardleymaps – Medium". Medium. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  6. ^ "Wardleypedia - WardleyPedia". Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  7. ^ "The power of situational awareness for digital government". Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  8. ^ "Figure 3: Practical application of ITC framework: mapping HS2's..." ResearchGate. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  9. ^ "LeadingEdgeForum/atlas2". GitHub. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  10. ^ Retrieved 2018-12-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Simon Wardley #NfN #EEA on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  12. ^ "What do Wardley maps really map? A settler writes". Matt Edgar writes here. 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2018-11-05.