20191009 - LASCOT2019 - Maturity Mapping , Chris McDermott @chrisvmcd and Marc Burgauer @somesheep

by Thierry de Pauw on


Maturity Mapping:
Using Wardley Maps and Cynefin to create context-specific maturity models, Chris McDermott @chrisvmcd and Marc Burgauer @somesheep


Introduction to Wardley Mapping

Wardley Mapping would take hours to introduce correctly.

no maps are complete!
- @CatSwetel: The most important thing to know about wardley mapping is no map is complete. -- @somesheep #lascot

at any time it is a snapshot.

the utility of Wardley Mapping: is not to show others your world, but standing in front of people to articulate your world and your understanding of that world

visualising complexity so you can start talking about things

=> Creates shared situational awareness

In technology, we tend to think we know how things work.

What makes a map a map?
- anchor: your compass (where is the North)
- position: you can figure out where you are, without position, you can't know what are your possible moves
- movement: the map informs our options to move

Start with Value Chain

Power -> runs a Hosted Server -> on which runs a Web Server -> hosts a CMS -> ...

Vertical axis: Visibility: Invisible -> Visible
Add evolution: horizontal axis

Genesis -> Custom -> Product (+rental) -> Commodity (+utility)

Genesis: you start with a vague idea that needs more clarification
Custom: you build a custom product based on the clarifications
Product: people can take it off the shelf
Commodity: there is a global norm

now you have a map

User Need: that is your anchor (Is there a house on the market near a train station)
the visible part, at the top of your map

Climatic Patterns: rules of the game

Everything evolves through supply and demand competition
No single method fits all
Higher-order systems create new sources of values
Success breeds inertia: the people who get to the top are not aware that the skills and habits that brought them there are still the right ones to evolve further

Doctrine: skills or habits

Wardley's Strategy cycle

How do we do Strategy moves with the map?
look at the different options

Introduction to Social Practice Theory

a framing for understanding change and context

what is a practice?

what are the things we do to satisfy the needs in our organisation

=> you get:
- Principles
- Techniques
- Tools

Meaning - Material - Skill
they are Social Practices

  • Meaning: why we do the things we do
  • Material: what we use for doing these things
  • Skill: the competences and abilities we have

Example: TDD
- Meaning: to avoid regressions
- Material: an IDE
- Skill: ability to design tests

how practices evolve over time:
proto-practices - practices - ex-practices (practices disappear)

Bundle: practices that are related

Example: shower and laundry => hygiene practices

Complex: when practices do come to depend on each other, they constitute complexes, the emergent characteristics of which cannot be reduced to the individual practices in which they are composed. -- Shove et al.

practice as the central unit of inquiry
- how do we influence culture
- how do we share practices
- how do we introduce practices

social practice theory is the combination of:
- elements of practice (meaning, material, skill)
- evolution of practice
- connections between practice (complex, bundle)

Maturity Mapping

Why might we be interested in maturity?
- situational improvement => what you see in retrospectives
- need for evolution => consulting
- determining the capability to execute a strategic move/identify what needs improved to make the move

Maturity Models WTF!

  • @somesheep: Maturity models presume we can know what good will look like in this context (if true you should do waterfall, not agile) and they also bias thinking towards the model, i.e. blindfold for context. They are a complicated solution (ie. mostly arrogance). https://twitter.com/somesheep/status/988041372321157120?s=20
  • @somesheep: Hence, an Agile or Lean (or any other double loop improvement method) Maturity model is just wrong. Maturing means getting better adapted to our current context and if that context is complex, following a model is the path over the cliff. https://twitter.com/somesheep/status/988041958294728704?s=20

Example: using a spider diagram to assess the capabilities of a team

  • @NativeWired: RT @SteveSmithCD: Not sure I've met someone who balances kindness, smarts, and Scottishness better than @chrisvmcd 🙇‍♂️ #lascot

The trouble with maturity models ...
- bias towards the model, Marc Burgauer
- what works for a mature multinational is going to be counter-productive for an immature 30 person company, Adrian Howard
- linearity in learning, Jason Yip

but ... we do have a way of creating situational awareness and making context-specific change

=> combine Cynefin and Wardley Mapping

Maturity ... in the context being mapped

(see picture)
Concept -> Emerging -> Good -> Best: X-axis
Certainty -> User perception -> Understanding -> Knowledge management -> Social practice

Movement patterns: (see picture)
- new practice
- reconfigure a practice
- hide a practice
- expose a practice
- develop a practice

Liquidity: increase Skill of team members to match current understanding

Use Cynefin to understand how you can improve:
- Chaos: We'd need to try a few things => act-sense-respond
- Complex: We know someone who knows how to do that => probe-sense-respond
- Complicated: We must act on now => sense-analyse-respond
- Obvious: Any of us could to that => sense-categorise-respond


  • maturity mapping provides a context-specific use of your practices
  • approach from understanding user needs
  • the work to be done to serve the user needs
  • your understanding of how well developed your practices are
  • ...
  • understand (with Cynefin) how you can improve