A map, no matter its format, provides its user with so much information, from the topology of the landscape through to links local services and retailers. But a map is not restricted to the great outdoors, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a diagrammatic representation of a route” maps are essential to CIOs navigating a changing business landscape.
Simon Wardley is the lead practitioner of Wardley Maps, a methology which help organisations “anticipate market development”. Wardley, a researcher with the Leading Edge Forum, focuses on IT strategy and complex systems. A tweet by Wardley led to Mapcamp an event to bring the methodology to the attention of more business and technology leaders. Mapcamp brought together CIOs from retail, culture and entertainment as well as the public sector. Technologists and business change leaders joined a day of workshops and discussion.
Three government technology leaders shared their experiences of using Wardley Maps to deal with change and in particular to help the government deal with uncertainty, which at present there is a great deal of.
‘Governments are built in silos,” Liam Maxwell Government Technology Advisor and former CTO of the government said. “I’ve just come from a meeting across the government and they were arguing about who owned the project,” Maxwell says of the non-collaborative nature of many departments. Maxwell went on to explain how using mapping techniques was vital during his tenure as CTO of the government from 2012 to May last year. With procurement, capability, security, legacy and capability broken, government technology was caught in a “square of despair”.
Maxwell cited the work of Home Office Programme Director Cassian Young who headed Digital Strategy at the Government Digital Service (GDS) for using “Wardley maps to define what we are trying to do”. Adding that maps help explain purpose to everyone in the organisation.
Julie Pierce Director of Digital at the Food Standards Agency has been using Wardley Mapping to “remove bespoke systems” when she was CIO for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The value chain map removed duplicate animal tracking systems that the rural department was operating. (Julie Pierce took part in a Horizon CIO podcast debate on mobility)
James Duncan, Director of Platforms and Infrastructure at the Home Office and now with Stance Global used Wardley Mapping to discover ways to separate complex systems, Maxwell said. These systems, Maxwell said, were costing the government £1.6 billion a year to carry out three billion transactions “about the same as Twitter on a good afternoon”.
Mapping through Brexit
“We could wait for the negotiations to be done, or we can just start. We opted to just start,” Piece said of how Wardley Maps are helping the Food Standards Agency work through the UK preparing to leave the largest single trading area. “There is a raft of murk and fog,” she said, describing how Wardley Maps give clarity and avoid organisations being dictated to by perceived maps “where here be dragons” she said using an image from the early days of sea travel.
“We were merged from two organisations and the mapping allowed us to see the two organisations that had been rammed together and the inefficiency of that was driving too much spend,” Pierce said. Wardley Mapping exposed duplication and poor user experience and Pierce says enabled all members of the organisation to feel that they owned the maps and therefore the direction the organisation was taking. “They encourage the process that we are on a journey and we are learning as we do it, and the uncertainty that we are still navigating feels just about manageable.”
Former Director of the GDS Paul Shetler said mapping techniques enable an organisation to really focus on user needs, something that has become critical to so many vertical markets in the digital revolution. Shetler said that being told by an entrepreneur that if you have to deal with the government, pay someone to do it, was a revelation to him, as government services are already paid for in taxation.
Shetler also warned CIOs to only adopt hackathons if they can deliver on the ideas generated and that the Gartner Bimodal model is a “terrible idea, it creates camps of winners and losers”.
Maxwell’s time as the government CTO coincided with not only the adoption of mapping, but also Agile methods. Maxwell warned that despite the benefits of Agile, it can be taken too far as a methodology.
“There was a tyranny of too much Agile, so amazing work was ruined by poor message control,” Maxwell said. The technology leader said the term has been attached to projects that were far from Agile. “A massive waterfall project was called Agile because there were post-it notes used, yet it had clear six month release dates,” Maxwell said.
Mapcamp will return in 2018.