in NaBloPoMo2019

NaBloPoMo #2

I’m at Open Data Camp, and as is my tradition I talked about Wardley Maps. Presented here is a approximation of what I talked about and what we covered.

Last year, when I talked about, there was a lot of discussion around what each category meant in terms of data. This year, I did an incredibly rapid run through of maps and moved quicker to the focus of the session, which was data: how to map it, and how to interpret it.

In general I assume that an “X Strategy” is a strategy about a product or service called X. If X is “Data”, then I expect the point of your strategy to be your data products. And it should probably include all the people and technology and other stuff that ends with the pointy bit of your strategy. If your X is “Improve adult literacy” then data should be in the strategy, but shouldn’t be the point.

Wardley mapping requires you to write down your whole value chain, to the limit of its usefulness. This is subjective, which is good, because only you know your product or service.

Mapping the value chain onto our x-axis of evolution allows us to spot the places where our data is being built ourselves and where we’re consuming it from another team. Where we’re building it ourselves, we should ask whether we need to or if we can get it from somewhere else. If we need to, then it’s an essential part of our business and we should do our absolute best to move that data product to the ‘product’ space, probably even the ‘utility’ space.

With this in mind we talked about a service I was pitched during a recent exercise – a service that users could access that told them whether their local authority recycled the thing they were holding in their hand at that moment. The team had identified two datasets that they’d need.

In the session today, I put both of them squarely in the ‘Genesis’ space. My belief is very firmly that building a service on the basis of data you don’t have yet is…foolish, like planning your family on the basis of a partner you’ve never met and a home that’s not yet been built.

This was a small example, but it spoke to the importance of including data – and how evolved it is – in your product strategy. If it’s not there, it’s worth looking at the levers you’ve got to move the product rightwards. Internal investment and automation are both approaches you can take; opening the data and hoping someone makes it available is another.

We concluded with the reflection that mapping informs strategy, so the more diverse the group of mappers the more effective the strategy will be.

The notes from the session are online: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JcVhQAZFRnFqnyNIHa7zS42bSRZ0gtxZlhw0Kig1a2I/edit?usp=sharing and there’s already a blog: https://www.odcamp.uk/wardley-maps-and-open-data-a-discussion/

I am always nervous when I do these. Not being I’ve got a fear of public speaking, but because the environment is heavily biased towards discussion and I’m basically doing a lecture. I tried to cut back on the lecture this time, but I don’t know if I should stick to my guns a bit more and accept that when exploring things that I know about and the audience doesn’t there’s going to be an element of talk-at rather than talk-with.

I am very grateful as ever to the collection of people who come along and asked bold questions and told me afterwards that they liked it/didn’t understand it.


November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. I’ll be endeavouring to write one blog post per day in the month of November 2019 – some short and sweet, others long and boring.

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